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A mostly women team, a big move, and a gender diversity project

Wow…so much has happened in 6 months—it’s hard to know where to begin!

Originally from Australia, Denise joined our Stamford office in the fall of 2014 as an experienced hire, and transferred to the Seattle office in the fall of 2016. She's served a wide range of clients in her consulting career and is now focused on food companies in the consumer, retail, and logistics industries. Denise holds degrees in commerce and economics from the University of Queensland. She has lots of personal interests, including cooking, restaurant-exploring, anything outdoors, playing the saxophone, keeping up with the latest on entrepreneurship and gender issues, and exploring her new home country with family and friends.

Hi everyone,

Wow…so much has happened in 6 months—it’s hard to know where to begin!

Majority women team & the EM life

During my last post I’d just started the second phase (implementation) of a project for a client in the food space. I was so lucky to work with the most incredible team—our full working team had three sub-teams, and of the 17 people engagement manager (EM) and below, 14 were women. This was a rare occurrence in itself, and especially unusual for an Operations team, which is in general a fairly male-dominated function in any industry! One of our male team members started an internal microblog about what it was like to work with so many women—he made some pretty cool observations about how the gender split changed the way we worked together, solved problems, and had fun outside of the office (best team events ever!!).

One of our most memorable team events—a home cooked bbq on the rooftop, followed by stories around the campfire

When the project wrapped up in early August, it was really bittersweet. We’d achieved so much impact for the client and had such a phenomenal time, but we’d all grown so close together that we were all genuinely really sad for it to end. It was also my first formal experience as an engagement manager—I had a team of four amazing colleagues including two summer associates. Given how invested I am in recruiting and coaching and mentorship it was super cool to be able to play a major role in everyone’s experience on the project, particularly the summer associates who spent the vast majority of their time with our team. In a fortuitous coincidence, I’d actually coached one of them during her interview process a year prior! It was so exciting to see both of them receive full-time offers!

Moving coasts

During these months, I totally fell in love with the West Coast. I’d heard people jokingly say “West Coast, Best Coast” over the I decided to really test it out. I was ready for a change from the New York pace and wanted the opportunity to spend more time outdoors doing the things that I love. Working on the West Coast for so many months gave me the chance to explore each of our West Coast offices (San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Southern California, and Seattle).

Weekend hike and camping trip to Glacier Lake with some Seattle office friends

I eventually landed on Seattle—I love everything about it: the people, the plethora of outdoorsy activities, the food, the office culture…the list goes on. Similar to my old office in Stamford, CT, it’s a small, tight-knit group of people in Seattle. The transfer was incredibly smooth, and the Seattle office were completely supportive, seamlessly integrating me into their awesome community.

Another weekend camping trip and hike to the alpine Lake Constance in the Olympics

My new Seattle friends are like my second family, and it was such a treat to spend summer in the Pacific Northwest with them—our weekends were filled with hiking, cycling, camping, climbing and kayaking. I’ve also apparently just ticked a mandatory box of being a “Seattleite” by acquiring a Subaru…and am super pumped for the upcoming ski season, which early forecasts are saying will be epic!

Making music

After my project, I went on a long vacation! I kicked it off by going to the McKinsey Music Festival in Kitzbühel, Austria—it was one of the best events I have ever been to. The Festival is a four-day event for musically-inclined McKinsey colleagues and alumni from all over the world. There are a range of ensembles to play in (symphony, choir, big band, acoustic band, rock band, funk band), as well as open opportunities to form chamber / small groups. We spend three days in rehearsals, and it culminates into a performance on the final night. I played sax in the big band, and we played a super cool set of swing classics (think Ellington, Miller, Goodman!).

My colleague, Drew, and I…very serious in rehearsals!

It was so much fun—I met tons of incredible McKinsey musicians, played music in the Austrian Alps, and totally re-invigorated my musical roots (despite the sore chops!). Coincidentally, a Seattle colleague was in the big band with me, and we are plotting an office jam with our growing contingent of office musicians.

After the Music Festival I went home to Australia for just over two weeks—I recently became an aunt for the first time so it was an incredibly special time to spend with family (and become proficient with changing nappies [diapers]!).

Motivating a transformation

While I was away, some leaders in the Operations Practice reached out to ask if I would be interested in joining an internal project team. I’ve mentioned previously that I’m passionate about gender equality, which is a top priority for McKinsey (read about our latest study in conjunction with LeanIn.Org about Women in the Workplace) and also for the Operations Practice. I’m excited to be now helping lead the implementation of a transformation focused on the sponsorship, development, and advancement of women, while also improving and increasing transparency into balance and impact for the entire practice.

I’m so thrilled about the opportunity to work on this—it’s a topic I’m so passionate about, and it’s great to see the firm and Operations Practice are so invested and committed to improving how we do things. To top it off, I also have location flexibility, so have been loving the chance to spend more time in Seattle.

Running the Leavenworth half marathon with a group of Seattle colleagues

I still, of course, love all things food and have enrolled in the “L2” path in Consumer. Our L2 programs are designed to build expertise in a particular function or industry through a combination of client experience, training, practice involvement, and mentorship. I’ve already attended a number of meetings and training sessions, and was recently in Chicago with other Consumer L2 program members. The program was really interesting and spanned professional development, external guest speakers, and plenty of connectivity with a phenomenal group of fellow engagement managers.

How could you not love this skyline?!

As I sign off from this mammoth update, campus recruiting is well underway and I’m enjoying the chance to interview lots of amazing candidates. I’d also love to help grow my awesome new home office of Seattle…so if you see me at a recruiting event, come say hi!