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Impacting 1,000s of lives via design

From enriching experiences across 10 countries to influencing 1,000s of lives through design. Melbourne-based designer Zaana shares her rewarding first year here at McKinsey.

As a human-centered designer, I am endlessly curious about people – who they are, what and how they do things and most importantly why they do them and what drives them.

Rich experiences across 10 countries

In my first year at McKinsey, I worked in 10 countries across Asia Pacific. This provided me an opportunity to be challenged, grow and experiment in ways I couldn’t have imagined or done elsewhere. I’ve had the privilege of listening to people’s stories of their life experiences, their heartaches, moments of joy, the creative ways they hack their lives, their desires, and aspirations.

I’ve learned about the diversity of lifefrom holiday preferences of people in Taiwan; the experience of having cancer in Korea and China; what people with a disability need from service providers to feel safe in Australia; and financial behaviours of young professionals in Malaysia. The purpose of this is to then design better experiences. Often, this has happened in environments where I don’t speak the preferred language.

What's I've learned

In my whirlwind first year working across Asia Pacific here’s what I learned:

  • How to conduct design research with quality customer outcomes by collaborating effectively with translators and interpreters.
  • The art of designing and facilitating engaging, immersive and fun workshops at scale in languages I don’t speak.
  • The nuance of cultural sensitivities and ways of working in different countries –how to work with it and break through it when needed.
  • How to truly release my agenda and go with the flow so I could meet the needs of the socially, culturally, and linguistically diverse people I am working with.
  • However, the biggest lesson and joy I’ve learned is at the heart of it, we are driven by the same needs, desires and fears. It’s our societal and cultural norms that add nuance, flavor and diversity to how these surface as behaviors and actions in the world.

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Influencing the lives of 1000s

The outcome of all of this? I’ve had an incredible year full of work and life adventures that have resulted in professional and personal growthoften beyond what I thought I could ever accomplish. More so, I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to and influence the lives of thousands of people through design … what could be better than that?

Find a job like Zaana's

About Zaana

Zaana is a designer and consultant living in Melbourne. She has a PhD in design from Swinburne University of Technology and a master’s in information management and bachelor’s in fine art from Monash University. 

For more information on McKinsey's design career paths, visit .