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Building trust and helping clients explore new opportunities

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Yingjian shares some of the highlights from his first two years as an associate with Digital McKinsey in Tokyo:

What has been your best client experience?

I spent about six months on a cost optimization program for a heavy industries client in Japan. I focused on optimizing logistics spend, which included evaluating in-land trucking and ocean freight options. Other members of my team looked for opportunities in other departments. As we do on every engagement, we dove in and put our heads and hearts to work. One of my clients commented a few weeks in: “You (McKinsey) are so invested in helping us save our business, you’re willing to do whatever we need, even the most Dorokusai (Japanese word, similar to ‘unpleasant’) tasks.” Our willingness to jump in, roll up our sleeves, and tackle challenges with our clients helped us earn their trust. They started sharing more about the core issues facing their company and how McKinsey could help. We bonded and became good friends. In fact, we get together for a reunion each year.

Yingjian with colleagues at a training program (he's second from the right)

What engagements have you done so far?

I’ve worked on a wide range of topics and in various industries. I’ve found the Digital projects most exciting. When I’m staffed on them, work feels like a hobby. Two of my most meaningful experiences are:

I worked with a media company in Japan to grow their core business, which was digital advertising. The client had been enjoying high profit margins and market growth, until recently, when they started losing market share. My workstream – advertising technology – was focused on structuring and evaluating ways our clients could play in this field. I brought in Marketing & Sales experts from Digital McKinsey to provide insights and share best practices. Then, I gathered clients from different departments (e.g., Sales, Engineering, and Product Management) to debate the pros and cons of each model and make some tough decisions. The collaboration and willingness of everyone to problem solve and investigate options was the best part.

I did a global study with a multinational manufacturer in Asia. They have more than 30 plants worldwide that produce different automotive components. Their core processes like sourcing, manufacturing, and maintenance and business functions like finance differed by plant. The CEO/COO engaged us to provide visibility on their operations across locations. My job was to look at the procurement and manufacturing processes and developing a change management plan. I believe this was something only McKinsey could do because we understood the CEO/COO level concerns and we have the technological expertise to communicate with IT.

What’s the difference between being a Digital McKinsey consultant and a generalist consultant?

There’s not much difference. I have the same staffing opportunities, training sessions and support network as generalist consultants. I focus on Digital, but I work on other topic too, including marketing and sales, supply chain management, and organization building.

I joined Digital McKinsey to express my passion for digital topics and ensure I’d get to do a large number of projects in the space. During my latest engagement on media advertising, my manager advocated I take up the ad tech workstream, which was technically challenging and at the core of the client’s business. This was great as it allowed me to pursue my passion, develop deeper skills and deliver for the clients.

What’s it like working in Japan?

Speaking Japanese and understanding the business culture and etiquette are critical elements for success, even for foreigners like me. It was tough to pick up the details at first – where to sit in a meeting room, how to exchange name cards, etc. Over time, however, these skills helped me communicate with my clients and earn their trust and confidence.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I spend time with my girlfriend during the weekends. I exercise regularly, and take time to relax or travel between engagements. I try to visit my parents in Singapore at least twice a year.

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