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Challenges and professional growth

I’m reflecting on two topics today: my last few months of business-as-usual work and the massive shift in the workplace in the months to come due to COVID-19. 

Anna joined the firm as a senior business analyst with McKinsey Energy Insights. She works with our Performance Improvement team and is based out of Manila office. Before joining McKinsey, Anna worked as a drilling engineer in a multinational oil and gas company and obtained her MBA in Singapore. She loves coffee and dancing and is currently trying very hard to keep her sugar habit in check.

Hi everyone,

I’m reflecting on two topics today: my last few months of business-as-usual work and the massive shift in the workplace in the months to come due to COVID-19.

Life in retrospect

Looking back at the last few months, I would characterize my time here really in two words: professional growth. People compare consulting years to dog years, and I figure that’s because we do so much in such a short span of time.

Before the whole firm started working from home, I wrapped up a massive project in Jakarta, Indonesia, during which I’ve started taking steps to leading a small team. 

This was a large project, both in scope and in team size – at one point there were 10 people on the team (part of it in the picture during team dinner). I was leading one of the amazing sub-teams, and I think this was one of the most exhausting but incredibly rewarding experiences I’ve had. We had a fantastically unflappable project manager – I am amazed at how reassuring and calm he was and how he could keep our stress levels down. But even with him around, I remember being completely overwhelmed on the second week of the project by the sheer volume of work I was supposed to accomplish. I was even thinking: “What did I get myself into?”

Since I’m writing this, you know that we’ve delivered – yay! With every week of the project, I was getting more and more confident in my ability to deliver to the client. I will be forever  grateful to leadership, for coaching me and making it a safe place for me to learn, and my amazing team, for delivering above and beyond, letting me practice my leadership skills on them and being just fun (e.g. like when we started singing Backstreet Boys on Zoom while working to keep us entertained!) 

I’m still growing and getting better every day, and I am thankful for that.

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Best headgear contest during Energy Insights virtual meeting

The next few months

At the beginning of the year, I didn’t imagine we would be working remotely alone for days. Consulting, by nature, is a fairly social career requiring conversations and interaction to actually create impact and value. Today, most of our work is done remotely and I have to admit I do miss the personal interaction.

I’m incredibly proud of the work that my friends and colleagues are doing both within and outside of the workplace. Some friends from high school have pitched to raise funds to ship PPE from China to Manila, while others have launched Help from Home (visit their website at to enable more people in lockdown to pitch in. I figure that we all do our part – whether it’s keeping our families safe, helping out clients, or simply providing a listening ear to people who are at the end of their ropes.

I have a few personal reflections from the last weeks of self-isolation:

  • While remote team room works well when you know everyone, getting to know an entirely new team on the screen may seem a bit odd and somewhat unnatural. With the right approach it is doable to establish great connection, though.
  • Blocking time for pure social interaction has been helpful for team wellbeing. I have tried to get all of us to work out, however one of the team members was a bit reluctant😉 so we simply have informal chats 20 minutes a day. It certainly helps improve the connectivity and relationship in the team
  • We’ve also tried being online on Zoom together but not working on the same thing. We can behave and interact in a similar way as we would if we were there in person, and it increases the sense of connectedness
  • Fun fact: make-up does actually make me feel better, especially when I have to look at myself on the screen.

I do not know if this will the new normal, but I am decided to play my part. 2020, you will be an interesting year!

Till next time,