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Manager of Research Operations, Chennai

I am grateful for my mentor’s advice, as I’ve done some of the most fulfilling work of my career as a result.

How has your role evolved since joining McKinsey?

In 2002, I joined the technology team at McKC in Gurugram as a junior research analyst.

For a few years, I worked across a multitude of topics, including hardware, semiconductors, consumer electronics, and networking. Over time, I developed a deeper interest for software and services and decided to specialize in the area. In 2008, I was offered the chance to move to Chennai, my hometown, to be part of a new knowledge center, and I happily accepted. In 2011, realizing my love for capability building and Chennai, I accepted the role of team leader for our regional research team. I have been with this team ever since, and am now the manager of research operations.

Describe how you found a mentor at the firm and the value of that relationship over the years

Years ago, I reached out to a partner in the United States for insights and feedback on a knowledge document I was working on. What started out as a simple email correspondence evolved into him becoming my mentor and professional evaluator. Over the years, he has given me the chance to work on some very interesting projects. In fact, he not only created growth opportunities for me, but also counseled me when I was faced with difficult choices in my professional career. I remember him advising “Chandra, sometimes you need to forget logic, listen to your heart, and follow it. More often than not, you will be right.” I am grateful for his advice as I ended up doing some of the most fulfilling work of my career as a result.

What’s been your most memorable project so far?

As a young research analyst, I had an opportunity to be part of a team that worked with the Director of McKC in Gurugram to craft the future vision of the Center. It was an amazing experience trying to fathom how the Center would look in a few years, and continue to remain a strong strategic asset. We had many problem-solving sessions, talked to a lot of senior colleagues to gather their insights, carried out feasibility analyses, and delved deep into futuristic ideas to understand how to pull our vision together. When we shared our recommendations, I was asked to present the findings despite being the most junior member of the team. That was a very proud moment for me at McKinsey.

What new skills have you developed at McKinsey?

McKinsey has certainly helped me discover strengths that I never knew I had. For example, I had always thought of myself as a content guy focused on software. However, the diversity of experiences and interesting opportunities that have come my way opened numerous opportunities to build capabilities as well as develop people; something that I’ve always wanted to do. Though I miss my days as a researcher, my current role helps me play a small part in developing exceptional talent, and when they succeed, I am rewarded with a truly amazing sense of accomplishment.