Growing up, we’re constantly inundated with the message, “be yourself.” Whether you’re making new friends at school, preparing for your first job interview, or creating a professional network, the idea of showing up as your authentic self is one that never grows irrelevant – and Yusuff knows this for a fact.
Having been exposed to a variety of different cultures and personalities from a young age, Yusuff knew very early on that he wanted his life and career to revolve around connecting with and supporting people from all walks of life in finding success and creative solutions to whatever came their way.
“Post-university, I was able to do some traveling around South America,” he explained. “Getting the opportunity to travel and be abroad for months and build relationships with people that I'd never spoken to and who saw me very much as an individual as opposed to a stereotype, was a pretty amazing experience.”
This experience resonated even more deeply when he started working in a marketing role that made him realize that he was changing himself to fit the role rather than settling into a space where his true personality could effortlessly shine.
“It felt like I was Frodo in the movie ‘The Hobbit,’ when he finally found the ring,” he said. “I got to a point where I realized I didn’t want to be in a role or a place where I had to change who I was to fit the role. I became Frodo with the ring in terms of losing myself.”
A couple years later, Yusuff found himself learning about McKinsey, a place where he would ultimately come to find his truest self and let his personality shine.
But he didn’t always know what his journey at McKinsey would look like. In 2005, Yusuff had just left a position in marketing and was eager to cultivate his interest in IT. This interest started in university (where he minored in IT) and was amplified in other positions where he found himself interested in learning more and asking questions when IT professionals would come help him with things. After putting his self-taught IT skills into practice at an investment bank for a short time, Yusuff found himself at McKinsey, where he finally found his flow.
How MBN empowered his best self
19 years later, Yusuff reflects on his McKinsey journey with fondness for the ways it has helped him grow as a leader – especially through his experience with the McKinsey Black Network (MBN).
“There’s a real value in sharing our stories, victories and bruises,” he said. “When we do this, we can all grow from our collective experience”.
Yusuff describes his role within MBN as two-fold: leading fellow MBN members in global technology and digital efforts, and representing retention and development for MBN Europe. His mission with MBN is simple: “make sure every single Black colleague joining feels supported from day one, and feels like they are part of a bigger family.”
Yusuff describes himself as an ‘enabler’ and one of his goals is to expand his leadership skills and presence in MBN and beyond. As an enabler, Yusuff has a passion for helping all his colleagues find their place at McKinsey and show up as their true selves. For Yusuff, this means supporting their development and making sure structures are in place to allow them to grow. One such structure is Talent-UP, an initiative he started with a small band of colleagues in 2021 focused on the development of MBN colleagues in their Technology Ecosystem function.
Growth from the inside out
Another reason Yusuff is so passionate about supporting the future MBN generation is the fact that he credits MBN as a huge reason he was finally able to feel like himself at the firm. That strong sense of self has empowered him to grasp new opportunities achieve a new role within the firm that combines his understanding of customer needs with his skill for solving complex challenges.
With that in mind, Yusuff has developed a clear understanding of what it takes to be successful and authentic in a place like McKinsey – an understanding that he hopes to pass along to current and future leaders.
“Don't hesitate to be your whole self, because I found a lot more fulfillment by doing that,” he advises. “I've always found that a lot of the successes I’ve had at the firm came from me continuously challenging myself to push my growth and learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable. If I were speaking to myself as someone new to the firm, I would've encouraged myself to be 100% authentic. And I’d recognize that that will take me way further than being just a version of me.”
Outside of the office, Yusuff pours back into himself by participating in high-intensity athletic events, such as one called Hyrox. These events, he says, give him the confidence and mental capacity to overcome all types of challenges in every part of his life. On a professional level, that translates to him showing up for his team and helping people create holistic solutions that will last long-term and lay foundations for future success.
And of course, he’s going to be himself the whole time.