Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class Of 2017

Youssef Rifi

McKinsey Office: Dubai

Hometown: Casablanca, Morocco and Paris, France (I’ve spent the half of my life in each city)

MBA Program: London Business School, London, UK

Master’s Degree: Ecole Supérieure d’Optique (Grande Ecole), Paris, France

Exchange Program: HEC, Paris, France

Focus of current engagement: Banking and Payments, Western Europe

Why did you choose McKinsey? I knew I was joining a place with high quality people who were both smart and kind. I was impressed by my LBS classmates who were previous McKinsey consultants from Singapore, London, Zurich, Bucharest, and Moscow. These were classmates who supported me during the preparation process and helped me become one of them.

Once at the firm, you can’t imagine the incredible people who surround you. They are sharp, wise, and able to build bulletproof reasoning, while remaining themselves. In one day, you can do one of the toughest problem-solving sessions in the afternoon and then play football with the same team in the evening.

Before my MBA, I ran my own company in mobile payments and worked with some of the most skilled and knowledgeable people globally in digital payments. For me, it was key to join a firm that will invest in building and stretching my skill set, and at the same time be with highly-skilled professionals who are self-driven and care about each other.

What lesson from business school best prepared you for your career in consulting at McKinsey? For me, the key for a successful MBA and preparation for McKinsey interviews were the people you surround yourself with – professionals you will interact with, and the lifetime friends you make. You need to understand yourself and (at the same time) find groups of people with whom you share the same values, level of ambition, trust, and personal interests. This will help create a foundation for success.

Tell us about an “only at McKinsey” moment you’ve had so far. When I joined the firm, I heard there were some payments gurus in Europe. Given my background, I wanted to meet them. I found out we had a number of partners with deep technical knowledge who understood all the forces shaping the industry. I showed my interest to my staffing team and now I’m on a project on another continent spending two days a week with the global McKinsey payments Jedi master, working with one of the most exciting players in payments.

What advice would you give to someone interviewing at McKinsey? Try to crack cases and spend time thinking about what you are great at and articulate it.  Practice with people who will give you honest feedback. Also, remember to find balance and do things that make you happy.

What do you expect to be doing in 5-10 years? Being a partner in our Dubai office would be amazing! It has been great to see some of the recently elected partners using our Take Time program so they can succeed at the firm and also follow their passion, support pro-bono projects and spend quality time with their loved ones.

My greatest personal or professional accomplishment is…My family. We all need both professional and personal fulfilment to be at our best. My wife and I are expecting our second child in the coming months and I will take eight weeks off when this little one arrives. Spending quality time with family and friends and making our children know they are a priority is extremely important to me.

A fun fact about me is…I really love patisseries… really, I’m the kind of guy who can walk or drive for an hour just to get to a nice bakery. In the last few months, I did just this several times, including when I was in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and sought out the best Lebanese bakery and in Lima, Peru where I found an incredible bakery for dulce de leche cookies.

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