Katy George

This Women’s History Month, we’re chatting with McKinsey leaders about their role as women in the workplace and beyond. Today, we’ll hear from Katy George, senior partner and chief people officer. Katy oversees all people functions across the firm, including diversity and inclusion, and leads client transformation and research around technology-enabled operations and manufacturing. For more Q&As throughout the month, bookmark this page.

Tell us about a career-defining moment.

One of the moments that was defining for me was when I was in my first year at McKinsey and really figuring out what a consultant did. I was working with a woman who was very experienced, and we worked together on defining a new pricing approach. I saw the kind of value that I could bring, both by working with her, hand-in-hand, but also bringing all of the expertise of our firm to bear.

I remember being in a sales meeting, where I helped train the sales force on this new approach, and they literally went out into the field and started calling in, talking about how successful this was, and how much they appreciated the clarity and the transparency around the pricing. That was a career-defining moment for me, seeing the value of joint problem-solving, bringing together different types of expertise, and seeing how it translates to real business and people impact.

What are you most proud of?

The thing I’m most proud of in my life, period, is my son, Peter. My son is 23 years old, and as a working mom, it was always very important to me that I spent the time, and had a really great relationship, with him. I feel great about the relationship we have. In fact, he asks me a lot for career advice, which is very satisfying. It’s very nice to know that my relationship with him is stronger because of the career that I have, not strong “in spite” of my career.

What’s a big or surprising lesson you’ve learned as a woman in the workplace?

I think the biggest lesson that I’ve learned being a woman in the workplace is just how effective being my authentic self can be. Not trying to be somebody else, not trying to copy somebody else’s style, not trying to be more serious, or more macho, or more anything. What I’ve found is that the more I live into my own personal style, the more authentic I am and the more effective I am.

How do you stay energized?

I stay energized both by really making sure that I protect time for my family and friends and I’m pretty rigorous about doing that on weekends. I also make time for myself, frankly just to recharge, whether that’s by watching Hallmark movies or going to the gym; it depends on the day.

But I also recharge by making sure that I’m spending the time at work in a way that is really fulfilling. For me, that always means being with other people. I love working with members of my team. I love reaching out and talking to clients. I love problem-solving with colleagues about different issues.

When I find that I am kind of down and drained, I really make a point of making sure that the next day on my calendar I’ve got some really energizing interactions with people where I’m moving the ball with them together.

What advice do you have for women in their professional journeys?

My advice is twofold. First, take a long view. Any day, any week, any month might not feel like you are achieving the balance you want to achieve or making progress against your goals. What I’ve found is that over time you develop a lot of skill, and you develop a lot of trust and flexibility, all of which allow you to be more self-directed in what you do and how you do it and, also, allow you to achieve more balance in your life. Stick with it and take a long view, and don’t give up too easily.

The second piece of advice I’d have is just follow your passion. My career has been kind of an interesting combination of taking a chance and following opportunities that arose, but having a throughline around some of the topics around the future of work, manufacturing issues, [etc.], have always inspired me and motivated me.

It’s this combination of being willing to take detours, and to do things that are practical for your life even if they’re not in line with some life plan, but then recognizing that over time you can pull those threads of long-term passion and interest together.


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