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Engagement Manager, Helsinki

Our community at McKinsey in Finland is like a family. Everyone in the office is warm and genuine–making it easy to be yourself.

People are the best part of this work. My colleagues in Finland and internationally have different backgrounds with different personalities and yet I find I have a shared system of values with all of them. I am still in “positive shock” about the extreme willingness of my colleagues to help others. I recently contacted some of our industry experts in the US, people whom I’ve never met (and may never meet in person), asking for help in understanding the industry of my new client, and the response was as it always is: “Of course I will help you.” My colleagues around the world consistently make time to share their knowledge, to help other colleagues, and above all, to help the clients of our firm. One thing I dislike is unnecessary hierarchy, and at McKinsey we have none of that. My colleagues trust me, they give me opportunities to grow, and they expect me to be a client leader.

Our firm’s culture of feedback is another thing that sets this place apart from anything I have experienced before. We want to help our colleagues develop; we set aside time for it. We give strength-based feedback and do not compete against each other in any way, which was a positive surprise. I am sure that many prospective applicants must think that this is a highly competitive place. However, ever since I joined, everything has been a collaborative team effort. There is no “me first.” There is only “client first” and “people first”. Our values are important to us and I can see them at use in everyday work.

My development since joining McKinsey

One thing I have learned since I switched from academia to consulting is true teamwork. I support others and lean on their strengths, and they lean on mine. I have a natural tendency to go deep into the content of what I work on – which is good–as well as a tendency to go there alone–which is not as good. I have learned to involve others and to seek their input.

A second positive change is that I have become much better at managing stress, uncertainty, and ambiguity. I have worked as a researcher and a scientist, and that’s partly why I found it hard to accept the fact that when working in a business context I cannot know everything and control all variables. For example, our team recently worked with a healthcare company that needed to change its strategy because of major upheavals to the competitive and regulatory environment. We helped the client clarify what was going to remain stable, and what was truly uncertain. After that, we jointly shaped a strategy for growth.

Thirdly–and this is important to me–I have found what gives me energy. I enjoy working with clients and I find it deeply energizing. I therefore seek to do client engagements that allow me to spend a great deal of my time working side by side with clients. When the going gets tough, it’s that sense of “Why are we doing this with the client, why is this meaningful work?” that allows me to give my best effort.

Helping others grow and develop

As I grow more senior at McKinsey, I am expected to contribute some of my time to coaching and helping more junior colleagues. I work with some of our interns now, and I feel it is a great responsibility to help them grow. I can admit being excited as well as a little nervous: I want to do my best for others. I hope junior colleagues who work with me will say that they enjoyed it, and that it was a positive learning experience. I also hope they will say that they were given responsibility, challenges, and independence balanced with great support.

People as my biggest inspiration

People matter to me. The fundamental reason for why I stepped away from academia and joined McKinsey is that after I spent time reflecting on who I am, what I enjoy and what I want to do with my life, I decided I want to love the work I do. There isn’t a version of me at work that is different from who I am in my free time. The same things matter to me, however I spend my time. Those things are my community and the people around me. I love music and dance and consequently am often teased by colleagues for not hearing anything because I never take my headphones off. I love travel, and I travel both for work and in my free time, enjoying getting to know new people and new cultures.