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Exploring opportunities in pharma and traveling the world

– Greetings everyone!

I have had a super interesting couple of months. Last time I wrote, I was getting ready to take some time off after my project in January. After my last post, I started my first client engagement in the pharmaceuticals industry. It was the first time I worked on a growth market strategy, which I found to be quite interesting—and I also really liked the industry. This was a good growth opportunity for me as I had a lot of responsibility on the strategy piece and there were a lot of stakeholders. I also got to travel a bit, which was nice: I went to the United States for two weeks, including a trip to New York City for the first time in nine years! It was great to visit and I got to catch up with some old friends while I was there.

Waiting for transportation in Mumbai

After I completed that project, I started my current engagement, which is also in the pharma industry, but focused on operations. For this project, I have seen two extremes: I have been able to work from the Amsterdam office for weeks at a time, but I’ve had some pretty intense travel as well, including my most interesting week at McKinsey. I visited plants through Asia, with trips to Shanghai, Bangkok, and Mumbai in just five days.

Although the travel was exhausting, I actually got a lot of energy out of it. We started off in China, which was really interesting in many ways. The food was new for me, with duck tongue and fish lungs, and the people were very ambitious—they were more focused on achieving impact than most people I’ve met. From there, we went to a suburb of Bangkok. At one point I found myself sitting across a desk from my client, looking at the objects on his desk (including a little golden cat that appeared to be waving at me) and marveling at the fact that I was there!

Dinner in Shanghai

Finally, we headed off to Mumbai. I had never been to India and I didn’t know what to expect in terms of cultural and business norms in the country, but I found it to be a lovely country! I led some good meetings over my two days there and came away very happy with how things went. And once again I enjoyed some seriously delicious food!

Once I came home, I had to sleep for 14 hours straight, but it was all worth it for a week I will never forget. Since then I have done some additional travel on this engagement, including my first trip to Ireland and a solo trip to Switzerland. My engagement manager had to be in the UK and couldn’t make it to Switzerland, which meant I handled a workshop with 10 clients. I have to tell you that before I worked at McKinsey—only two years ago!—I never could have imagined myself having the confidence and knowledge to be in a workshop with clients I hadn’t met before. It is amazing to see how two years of McKinsey experience can transform you.

Despite all of the work travel, I still love to travel for fun. I took a holiday recently, spending two weeks in the Philippines with 14 friends from college. Next week we are going to Montenegro for an office retreat, which will include professional development sessions and plenty of connectivity and fun. The week after I am going to St. Petersburg, Russia for a long weekend, and then to Italy once my current engagement ends. In the meantime, I am working from the Amsterdam office, enjoying seeing different colleagues each day and taking our lunches outside on our rooftop while the weather is beautiful.

Holiday in the Philippines

I have about six months at the firm before I take my educational leave. I have decided to apply for a one-year MBA and then hopefully work for about a year in sustainable mobility before returning to McKinsey. I’ll post another update or two before I leave!


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.