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Operations Senior ExpertSydney

John came to McKinsey after spending more than 20 years in industry, working in supply chain, engineering, and manufacturing with corporations such as Unilever and Nestlé. He is now a leader in our Implementation Practice and part of our Sydney office.

We’re investing a lot of time in building our clients’ capabilities to ensure that they can sustain success.

While no two days are ever the same for him, below he describes a day serving a mining client.

5:10 AM: Get up and go. It’s Monday morning and I have a short drive to the client. I pick up my team en route. While we are in the car, we share highlights from our weekends and sometimes get into problem solving—specifically about any items that might affect the work multiple people are doing. On Mondays, we talk about what success will look like for the week. This project focuses on improving an organization’s performance for the long term. We’re investing a lot of time in building our clients’ capabilities to ensure that they can sustain success.

8:30 AM: Join client’s daily check-in. The clients conduct their daily meeting with the line teams, and during that time they cover safety information, review last week’s performance, and discuss the day’s tasks. I provide both team-based and one-on-one coaching to the managers afterward, which leaves me feeling energized.

10:00 AM: Facilitate meeting with the client working team. I meet with client team leaders to review our project plan and discuss priorities for the week. We decide how to allocate resources and ownership to accomplish our goals.

11:00 AM: Prepare for a problem-solving session. I have time later in the day with one of our McKinsey partners. I want to describe an initiative (which I’ve been leading) that brings together client and McKinsey expertise. I need to combine Excel analysis and PowerPoint slides succinctly to make it easier for the partner to help me identify other ways to bring the best of McKinsey’s expertise to the solution we recommend.

1:00 PM: I head back to the team room to have lunch and catch up with my teammates.

1:30 PM: Coach a general manager. I have been coaching him on how he manages the performance of his team. He has responded well to coaching and today is no exception. I share observations and recommendations and we agree on next steps. Afterward, I write a short email to thank him for his time and confirm the actions required.

4:00 PM: Meet with initiative owners. The owners of all pieces of work review their progress and challenges with the client’s leadership team. Together, we work through any issues they raise.

5:00 PM: Wrap up. My team catches up in a format similar to the clients’ morning meeting. We check through our major pieces of work, asking “what actions have you taken recently? What are the next steps? Do you need help?”

6:00 PM: Facilitate problem solving. I start my meeting with the McKinsey partner by synthesizing our recent progress and outlining options for how the next wave of the initiative progresses. The partner makes some valuable suggestions about McKinsey experts I should ask for further insights and about how I can be more effective in my role.

6:30 PM: Phone home. Each of my team members has different personal things that he or she prioritizes. As a team, we work around and respect these commitments. Some people go to the gym each day. I call my family to hear about what is going on at home.

7:00 PM: Return to my hotel and eat dinner. We are all working away from our homes on this engagement, so we return to the hotel together and often go to dinner as a group.

8:30 PM: Prepare for tomorrow. I use my evening to adjust my problem-solving pages, send emails, and prepare for the next day before heading to bed at around 11:30 PM.

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Macquarie University, Australia

Sydney University