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The email from a stranger that changed my life

– Hi everyone and welcome to my blog! I am a Business Analyst in our Santiago, Chile office.

Joining McKinsey

People often ask me how I ended up at McKinsey. Several years ago, while I was an undergraduate student, I received an e-mail from someone I did not know. She was a BA in the Santiago office who was taking part in a referral program. Consultants asked their friends who they thought could be a great fit for McKinsey and submitted those names to the recruiting team. I was one of the people whose name came up, with about 20 other women.

If I had not received that e-mail, I probably wouldn’t be working at McKinsey right now. Not because I didn´t like the firm, but because I had never heard about consulting before! So, for those of you who may receive similar outreach and have doubts about the validity of the referral programs, don´t hesitate! I think it’s an amazing way to attract people that don´t have McKinsey on their radars.

I started working one year after signing my offer letter. I wanted to complete a one-year masters of finance degree, and McKinsey agreed to defer my start date so that I could finish my studies. This is one of the things I love about McKinsey: the flexibility. I have learned that you can ask for almost anything, and if it supports your personal and professional development and doesn’t create distress in the firm, it will likely be allowed.

My BA career: What, where, and with whom?

I love McKinsey. Even when I have had many rough days, I love what I do. Not many people have the possibilities that we have here! We can travel around the world, we can change industries and functions every few months, we can lead teams even when we are young and inexperienced, we can have discussions with smart, successful colleagues and clients on a daily basis, and so much more. It is impossible to get bored here (but you may get tired, that is the truth!).

During this last two and a half years, I have had the opportunity to work in many industries: retail, mining, TTL (travel, transport, & logistics), and banking and insurance, all around South America and once in the US. I have worked with remarkable colleagues, like my first engagement manager, a strong, independent woman who inspired me to give my best every day while having a sustainable lifestyle (during that engagement we had team happy hours almost every two weeks). My fellow BAs in Santiago are another incredible group of people. I never imagined becoming such good friends with colleagues, but here it is impossible to avoid. I remember one engagement when another BA overheard that I was having a hard time. She called me right away and asked if she could help me in any way.

My last few months

My last engagement may make you feel jealous! In a joint effort with Disney Institute Consultants I had the amazing opportunity to help a company improve their customer experience. I traveled with them throughout Latin America interviewing frontline employees and organized a workshop in Orlando for top executives from the client.

At Disney for my project!

Besides helping our clients, McKinsey also invests a lot of time and resources in training programs for us. I am just returning home from New York, where I attended an “Engaging with Presence” learning program for women. I met so many fellow female consultants from the Americas while also learning about the importance of having self-awareness when interacting with others.

What’s next?

I have two major challenges coming up! I will start working as an Associate in January, which means that I will have to keep pushing to be as good as possible and to develop the new skill set required for this new role. The other major change for me is that I will be starting my MBA in mid-2016. I am still in the application process, so I am not yet sure which school I will attend… I hope I have some news in my next post!

Happy holidays!

About the blogger

Maria Jesus

María Jesús

María Jesús joined our Santiago office after completing undergraduate degrees in business administration and economics and a masters degree in finance from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. She serves clients in Latin America and the United States in numerous industries including retail, mining, travel and transportation, banking, and insurance. In her free time, María Jesús loves to travel and support other women—both at McKinsey and outside of work—in their personal and professional development. She is looking forward to starting business school in 2016.