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Dispelling myths about McKinsey

Yukiko shares what she values about recruiting—and what about the firm surprises candidates the most.

At McKinsey, partner Yukiko has found professional and personal development. Through recruiting, she now holds that same door open for candidates while helping attract the outstanding talent that makes the firm so exceptional.

Why do you invest time in talent attraction?

People are the most important asset our firm holds, so I want to contribute by attracting the most talented people. Second, McKinsey provides great opportunities for aspiring young professionals. The people I have met here have taught me so many valuable life lessons. I want to pay that forward, so I want to help more people become part of our values-centered, development-focused culture.

Recruiting great people is especially important to me because not all companies in Japan offer the kind of equitable opportunities for growth that our firm does. I feel very fortunate that, as a woman, I was empowered and able to develop my early career here, and I want to extend that opportunity to others.

What are the most important qualities you look for in a candidate, and why?

We look for excellent problem-solvers who want to grow and are willing to be flexible and get outside their comfort zone. Openness is important—to learning, to diverse people and viewpoints, and to feedback. It doesn’t matter where you went to school or even sometimes how much experience you have. We value potential, as well as integrity, resiliency, and a global mindset. We look for people who are excited about shaping their own career paths in pursuit of their passions—with the full support of the firm—and people who are excited about building deep, trust-based relationships with our clients. Collaboration and mentorship are such a big part of our working model.

Yukiko Sakai
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What are the most common questions you get from candidates?

Unfortunately, there are some unfounded perceptions out there about our people and culture. I still get many questions about how competitive or intimidating it is to work at the firm. After candidates interact with our colleagues, learn how we work so collaboratively and meritocratically in teams, and see the ways a career at McKinsey can develop, many of them are surprised and tell me, “McKinsey people are much nicer than I imagined.” That’s a preview of the firm’s supportive environment: We want you to succeed, in your interviews and as a colleague.

Based on your experience with candidates, what does the future of our firm look like?

I’ve been involved in recruiting for more than 10 years. During that time, the candidates we recruit have become much more diverse—in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, academic backgrounds, experience, and lifestyle and career preferences. This diversity and today’s climate are pushing us to reinvent our operating model and the way we work. There are internal teams focused on developing new client service models, perfecting how we form diverse and inclusive teams, enhancing the stellar benefits we offer, and much more. The future firm will provide more flexibility for people to shape their full lives while still making a huge difference in the world and for our clients.

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