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An experience that reflected our changing firm

For today’s post I’m sharing my amazing experience on a project in Switzerland that showed me the changing face of consulting.

Anna joined our Warsaw office as an experienced hire after working in finance for several years. While completing her bachelor’s and master’s degrees—both in finance—from Wrocław University of Economics in Poland, she also completed her CFA program, paving the way for her to work almost exclusively within our financial institutions group. She speaks four languages, which is useful given her love of international travel. Outside of work, you’ll find her skiing, sailing, or attending the theater.

Hi everyone,

For today’s post I’m sharing my amazing experience on a project in Switzerland that showed me the changing face of consulting. McKinsey leads successful changes both for clients and internally, and it’s one of the reasons I love being part of the firm. This particular team was the most forward-looking one I’ve experienced in my time here.

The changing face of the firm was exemplified by several aspects. First, all of the team members had very different tenures, from experienced consultants to new hires. We also had a new hire who joined us as an associate principal at McKinsey. Since he came straight from an industry job, we brought a freshness to our discussions—we found ourselves looking at things though his eyes, and thinking about serving our client in new ways instead of using familiar approaches.

The second aspect of new DNA on this team was around our roles, and this is emblematic of how much McKinsey is changing. We had integrated consultants (like me) as well as designers from McKinsey Digital Labs on our team (designers apply conceptual thinking to create desirable and feasible digital solutions across multiple platforms). It was fascinating working with designers—I learned a lot just by observing them talking to clients and building relationships with them. Consultants often bring facts and a framework for a discussion, but I saw that designers are quite different yet brought an incredible amount of credibility to discussions. They are talented at listening to people, reading between the lines, and displaying empathy; in return, our clients shared more openly with them. I loved working with these creative colleagues and I really felt like we brought the best of the firm to our client.

Thirdly, we had four different countries of origin on our team: Germany, Switzerland, Poland, and the UK. I’ve learned through working with so many people from different countries that each nation brings something unique to a team: a colleague from Germany was detailed oriented, a Swiss great with relationships, I personally was perceived as more direct and to the point. When all of these strengths are pulled together, it’s a powerful combination of working together and bringing the best to clients.

Finally, I thought it was important that we all had different sector experiences, from banking to telecom to consumer goods to media. We learned about the latest thinking in different sectors, which opened our discussion beyond just the client’s sector and kept us from skewing in one direction. Our client actually pointed out that they appreciated how everyone on the team felt really engaged from having different backgrounds and profiles.

Overall, our problem solving was really creative in terms of looking at our problems from several different aspects and angles. We also shook things up in other ways—for instance, we had an open design room for this project and we invited people to come in and learn about what we were doing and share feedback with us. Instead of meeting in conference rooms, sometimes we would invite the clients to walk with us, and we would chat while walking in the park instead of sitting in a room staring at a presentation. We had retrospective sessions and went on “gallery walks.” It was so eye opening to work in a new way, and I am incredibly excited to bring some of these ideas to my next team!

Until next time,