The most unexpected aspect of working at McKinsey has been how much control you have over your career—it’s truly entrepreneurial, and I have had more control and influence over the work I do and the people I work with than I thought I would.
Prior to graduating from Kellogg, I was considering a few consulting offers and assistant-brand-manager roles at consumer-packaged-goods companies. I chose McKinsey because I was inspired by how interesting and diverse the experience was going to be. I was impressed with the many topics the firm works on and with its focus on the development of its people.
Ultimately, my experience has been similar to what I expected: I was able to work on a variety of topics, such as developing a foundation’s strategy and building a digital organization at a retailer. However, I expected to travel every week, but as an associate I was traveling on 50 percent of the time because I was serving Chicago area clients. As an engagement manager, the travel picked back up, but the firm’s focus on “mindful travel” ultimately meant that if I didn’t need to be at the client for specific meetings I could fly in later on Mondays or even Tuesday mornings. This allows me to spend more time at home with my husband and dog.
The most unexpected aspect of working at McKinsey has been how much control you have over your career—it’s truly entrepreneurial, and I have had more control and influence over the work I do and the people I work with than I thought I would. Last year, I decided to go off the consulting track to spend more time in Chicago. I took a rotational role as a knowledge expert in the Retail Operations Practice for a year, which allowed me to not only build on my expertise in retail operations but to also have a more balanced lifestyle and less travel.
Outside of client work, I am most passionate about providing greater professional exposure and opportunity to minority students in the Chicago area. I am involved with the McKinsey Diverse Young Leadership Scholarship program, which provides scholarships and mentors for minority high-school seniors. I’ve served as a mentor in the program, and my mentee is joining McKinsey this summer as a summer business analyst. I also co-lead our Midwest office chapter of the McKinsey Black Network, an employee-resource group that is focused on making McKinsey a more diverse firm by identifying black talent in partnership with our recruiting team, providing professional development for black colleagues, and building connectivity and community through social and cultural events.