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My first six months in London

– Hi everyone,

In my last post, I shared my plans for my third year as a BA: a 12-month transfer to London to do six months of public and private sector client work, and six months with the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), our economic research branch.

I am happy to report that I am settled into my new life in London, and things are going well here (or ‘not bad,’ as the locals would say). The move itself was remarkably easy, thanks to McKinsey’s mobility processes. In addition to taking care of the logistics (visas, residency permits, and even moving my belongings across the Atlantic), the Firm made sure I wouldn’t walk in blind to the new office, and that I would be set up for success.

Before the move, I spent a lot of time speaking with my new Professional Development Manager (PDM) to get a sense of the client service teams (CSTs) and projects that could be a good match. The evaluator who originally orchestrated my move also helped provide advice and support as I went through the initial staffing process, almost like an additional Development Group Leader (DGL) looking out for my growth in the Firm.

Enjoying a European ski break in the Alps

Our London office has an incredibly diverse and multi-national community, with a large number of short- and long-term transferees. I found that everyone in the office was very patient and welcoming. I quickly found myself connected to a group of a dozen or so senior BAs who transferred to different programs in London—from different offices around the world—for their third year. We have a WhatsApp group to stay in touch and regularly meet up for social gatherings.

On the client work side, I’ve spent most of my time in London working on a few different projects for one large public sector organization. It’s really been an “only at McKinsey” experience to be able to do meaningful public sector work in a country that isn’t my own. It’s also been interesting to see the differences and similarities between US and UK clients working in similar spheres; things can be set up quite differently, which has provided a terrific opportunity for me to learn more, and to bring new perspectives to the client.

On my last project, our clients essentially moved into a team room in our McKinsey office, which is different from how we normally operate (usually we go to the client—not the other way around). In this case, it was beneficial to our client to spend time with a private sector organization and learn new capabilities and approaches. All in all, it was an exciting engagement with lots of problem solving sessions with our client’s senior leaders, already resulting in significant changes to how they operate day-to-day.

I am about to start my fellowship with MGI and will be working with them for about six months. My first project will involve writing a report on the future of Europe. As you’ll see if you explore our MGI website, the kinds of research and writing I’ll do as part of this report are very exciting.

One last thing I thought I’d share before I sign off: I’m part of a team that ran a really neat survey for all North American Business Analysts (about 500 people in total) last fall. We got feedback on the BA program and gathered questions and concerns. We used it to provide additional context and suggestions to some of the Firm leadership involved in supporting BAs (PDMs, Firm Learning, Office leads etc), and last month we sent out an advice packet to all BAs to give some honest answers and outside perspectives on some of the most common questions we heard from early tenure BAs. It was a great experience, and it felt very meaningful to get to contribute to the overall success of our BA program.

Next time I write, I’ll update you on my work with MGI.

Until then,

About the blogger

Senior Business Analyst


Sarah joined our Washington, DC office after completing an M.Phil. in nuclear energy at Cambridge University and studying chemistry and Middle East Studies at Brown University. In her first two years as a BA, Sarah enjoyed the opportunity to explore a range of industries, including healthcare and energy in both the public and private sectors. She is now spending her third BA year in London. When not working, Sarah enjoys baking and running.