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Switching from industry to consulting with support and balance

McKinsey satisfies Xinlong’s thirst to learn and grow, and structured problem-solving is one of the most valuable skills he has acquired as a data scientist.

What brought you to McKinsey?

A message on LinkedIn from a McKinsey recruiter forever changed my career as a data scientist. This outreach was the first time I thought about a career in consulting as a data scientist. After a bit of research, I was impressed by McKinsey’s logical and structured approach to problem-solving and realized McKinsey was doing really exciting work in the digital and data science space. Furthermore, the exceptional people I met during the recruiting process excited me about the firm; everyone I connected with was extremely established in their careers, yet genuine and humble. The more people I met, the more I realized I wanted to be part of the firm. Ultimately, the people were the main reason I chose McKinsey and the reason I stay.

Why is McKinsey a great place to start or continue your career?

Switching from industry to consulting with support and balance
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McKinsey is a firm that invests heavily in the growth of its people through trainings, projects and the support of colleagues and mentors. The firm provides opportunities for you to push beyond your comfort zone and work across different industries and sectors.

A few reflections:

  • McKinsey’s structured approach to problem-solving is one of the most useful skills I acquired as a data scientist. I realized it is more important to define a business problem correctly before diving into the data crunching, which was what I was used to. In addition, I am grateful each of my projects allows me to work with different experts and consultants to combine the best thinking and devise the most robust analytics methodology.
  • McKinsey is right for you if you want to stretch and exceed your own expectations. At the firm, I am challenged each time I start a new project, which is extremely exciting. In the past three years, I’ve worked with global teams on projects in insurance, retail, pharma and manufacturing etc. With each project, I am able to broaden my perspective and further develop skills in logical thinking, top-down communications and time management.
  • Finally, McKinsey is a firm where you will work with excellent people who will support and guide you to be your best self. The diverse opinions and knowledge that come out in our problem-solving sessions inspire the best ideas. One of my fondest memories is of a team for a retailer client where we helped develop a dynamic pricing approach. The team was big and included members from the US, India, Poland, China and Japan. It was a great experience for me to be part of a global team and learn about unique approaches that worked well in different countries. I very much enjoyed working together with these colleagues to tailor an approach that was best suited for our client.

How do you balance a full life? How do colleagues and firm policies support you?

Switching from a traditional Japanese manufacturer to McKinsey was a challenge at first because the hours and the pace of my previous job were very different. I needed to adjust my work pace to deliver the best solutions to the client within the project timeline, which can be very short. However, the people and flexible programs at the firm make it a remarkable place. Having the explicit support to live my life to the fullest allows me to grow and bring my best self to work every day. I love that our projects always have a team learning session where we share our strengths and working preferences so I can ensure I have time allocated for things that matter to me like spending time with family and exercising.

Balancing a full life for me means:

  • Family is always first. I am married and to keep a healthy relationship with my family, I make sure to carve out time to spend with my wife, whether it be a 15 minute walk or dinner time to find balance between the sometimes long work days. This allows me time with my family and time to refresh my thoughts and bring a fresh perspective when I meet with my team again.
  • Staying positive and healthy. Having the support to prioritize things that matter to me like regular exercise is the key to maintaining a lasting career. The culture and environment at McKinsey allow me to go to the gym regularly or exercise on my own several times a week. Having a regular workout routine energizes me and gives me a positive mindset.
  • Keep learning to stay motivated. Working at McKinsey is like being in school. You can hone your strengths and work on areas to develop. One of the best ways for me to stay motivated is to continue my learning journey either through formal trainings or from those around me like mentors and team members. The people around you will help you build the skills you need and guide and support you to live your life to the fullest.

Xinlong is a senior consultant in data science with QuantumBlack in the Tokyo office. He holds a masters degree in systems engineering from the University of Tsukuba. Before joining McKinsey, he was a data scientist at LIXIL Corporation in Japan.

Outside of work, Xinlong enjoys exercising and camping in the mountains with his wife.

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