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After Australia and Africa, a project at home

– Hi everyone, I hope your year is off to a great start!

Life in Africa

In my first post I shared that I was staffed in Africa. I have to say it was really cool. I absolutely loved experiencing the cultural differences between Africa and home. My prior experience working abroad was in Australia, which is actually quite similar to the Netherlands in many ways. But Africa is a different story!

The client work itself was highly confidential, so I cannot share much information. But I’ll tell you some of my observations and experiences. For one thing, humor and lighthearted teasing are common in Africa, and I found that you cannot build a client relationship without joking around with your clients. Our team became very close and developed our own mini language with words, phrases, and salutations (for instance, I became “Mrs. Laurien”).

A beach day with my team in Africa

We spent several weekends in Africa, enjoying the beaches, markets, etc. One of the social highlights was attending the Lagos office’s year-end holiday party. While staffed abroad, we follow our clients’ policies regarding safety, so we did not walk on the streets. This was interesting because at times we had drivers pick us up only to bring us a few doors down the street!

Returning home

I finished that engagement right before the year-end holiday break and was happy to return home after being abroad for six months. My holidays were quite nice: I spent a lot of time with my family, ate a lot, and went to the Dutch coast for a few days.

After two weeks of break I started a project here in the Netherlands. I was ready to do something local, and I was staffed on a banking project. This was a trade-off: I didn’t think I wanted to do banking work, but my priority was staying close to Amsterdam for a while. As it turned out, the project was great. My team and the clients were friendly, wonderful people, and I was able to interact with our clients a lot (actually more than my own team!). I was given a lot of responsibility and owned my own workstream, which was exciting for me.

The banking project was pretty short—only four weeks. Once that was over, it was time for the Amsterdam office’s yearly BA and associate ski weekend in Switzerland. It was the best four days—great weather and perfect snow, bonding with terrific colleagues, and fun evening events. Last year I still felt pretty new to the firm when we took this trip, so this year was even better and I felt more at home with people who have become close friends over the past 12 months.

Office ski trip with fellow BAs and associates
Learning and studying

This week I received my learning “report” (detailing which learning programs I’ve attended and which virtual courses I’ve completed) and was happy to see that I am doing well with my learning plan. One of the highlights of my learning program last year was a two-day program in Munich for women called “Engaging with Presence.” I’m looking forward to a few upcoming programs in the next two months.

Holiday dinner with friends in Amsterdam

Speaking of learning (and studying!), I don’t yet know my next client engagement, though I’m asking to stay local in the Netherlands for a while so that I can study for the GMAT and work on my business school applications. I don’t know yet where I will attend business school, but I’m thinking about applying to schools in a few different countries, including the US. I am surprised at the amount of time you have to put into these applications—wish me luck!

Until next time,


About the blogger



Laurien joined our Amsterdam office after completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in industrial engineering and management from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. In her first year as a consultant, she worked in numerous industries including banking, oil and gas, and media, and achieved her wish to travel and work in foreign countries by spending significant time in Australia and West Africa. She’s looking forward to another year at McKinsey before she pursues her MBA.