“Everyone in the group was working on similar problems,” she notes. “People were trying to develop different knowledge. What’s funny is that it was so easy to find this group of people. I came in and had said that this is something that I really want to work on. I thought it would be more difficult than that. I was surprised by how open the doors were.”
This reflects a larger trend at McKinsey, where industry practices work closely together and share knowledge to keep everyone on equal footing. In turn, this makes it easier for consultants to move into different industry projects or practices altogether. “I have a study where I’m learning a huge amount about automation work,” O’Gorman adds. “I am able to suddenly dive into the deepest knowledge in this field in support of our clients. Outside of that, if I am interested in Medicaid and healthcare, there is this whole broad network to explore that side as well. I didn’t necessarily expect to have access to experts from all around the world who work in every single industry. But I’ve found where my curiosity takes me, I’ve been able to dive deeply and bring the full power of the firm to me.”
THE CHANGING PROFILE OF McKINSEY RECRUITS
Each year, McKinsey brings on 400 MBA interns and hires 1,100 MBAs on average. This scope and scale of McKinsey’s operations – coupled with the depth of breadth of service that clients now expect –requires the firm to recruit students from an array of backgrounds. Long gone are the days when consultants were plucked exclusively from the business ranks, Lostutter says. Instead, McKinsey has widened its net to bring in far different MBA candidate profiles.
“We’re generally recruiting for the general associate roles and the practice associate roles,” she explains. “Now, we’re also looking for implementation leaders in our implementation practice and people in newer areas like advanced analytics, our digital group, and various new ventures in the firm. We’re expanding the type of work that we’re doing for clients so what we are looking for is more diverse profiles than ever.”
Lostutter adds that business schools have been recruiting students with far more diverse backgrounds as well. As a result, she is seeing far more former teachers, veterans, engineers, and scientists being funneled into the firm. In fact, she believes the Class of 2017 may be the one of the most diverse ever – a necessity considering the ever-evolving nature of consulting work.
“YOU WILL LEARN FROM EVERY PERSON, ON EVERY TEAM”
“Here now, more than ever, we’re not just handing our clients solutions,” Lostutter adds. “Now, we’re helping to implement them. We also have, as I mentioned, these new ventures that are basically internal startups; they are businesses that are focused on technology or areas like advanced analytics and healthcare product design. These are incredibly exciting areas that we can now bring to our clients.”
The clients aren’t the only ones who benefit from this wide range of experiences. “The diversity of backgrounds and variety of interests among your colleagues are the most powerful sources of knowledge available,” Sleeman asserts. “You will learn from every person, on every team.”
According to Lostutter, McKinsey seeks distinct certain traits in new hires, notably an innate curiosity, problem-solving abilities, a global mindset, and soft skills. However, there is another skill that separates the success stories from the stall outs at McKinsey: Teamwork. It is a skill that many members of the 2017 Class credit to their business school. experience
“Definitely the ability to work in groups, often under tight time constraints, to share and allocate responsibilities and to respect and better understand cultural differences,” says Alessandro Perrone, who works in the Paris office. “As a team, both at INSEAD and at McKinsey, you establish team norms trying to accommodate everybody’s priorities at the beginning of each project. I found this process very useful as it creates transparency between teammates from the start.”
ON-GOING FORMAL TRAINING BUILDS TEAM COHESIVENESS
Recruiting is only part of the equation. McKinsey has also developed intensive formal and informal mechanisms to onboard hires and build their skill sets as their careers progress. Formally, Lostutter says, the firm spends millions of dollars a year in training. And that doesn’t count the investments made in knowledge documents or on-ground support personnel in areas ranging from analytics to technology.
The formal training begins with a week-long program called EMBARK, which covers the different resources and problem-solving styles at McKinsey by simulating the study experience. Taught in groups of 20-25, EMBARK also features an invaluable social component that eases the transition into McKinsey.
“It built a cohort experience,” says O’Gorman. “I feel like any time when I’m running into a problem, I have 25 classmates whom I can ask, ‘What do you think?’ Just from a programmatic standpoint, it felt like EMBARK built the class spirit and I had a team that I could turn to.”
The formal training doesn’t stop there. Each year, consultants are taken off their studies to complete a week-long program aimed at their focus or role. For example, engagement managers – consultants who move into a leadership role – are sent to the United Kingdom for EM College. Here, they work with firm leaders and thought partners on how to transition to managing downwards with associates and upwards with partners and clients, according to Lostutter. In addition, McKinsey maintains a summer associate experience, where interns are treated as full-fledged associates. Aside from planned development and social activities at their site, interns also attend a summer conference, which exposes them further to the company culture and potential colleagues.
A MENTORING CULTURE TOP-TO-BOTTOM
Informally, McKinsey is a mentorship culture, with heavy emphasis placed on coaching and support –
particularly from partners and engagement managers. O’Gorman first experienced this support during her summer internship. When she arrived, her peers would quickly introduce themselves and immediately offer to help. At the same time, O’Gorman adds, her engagement manager would never hesitate to pick up the phone, whether it was 8 a.m. or 11 p.m., to answer her questions or offer guidance. By the same token, partners have been heavily invested O’Gorman’s development – even partners who work outside her Cleveland office.
“This winter, I worked with a Chicago partner on a study,” O’Gorman details. “After going through our regular problem-solving session, she’d pause and say, ‘Kate, I know that you’re new here, so let me unpack why I’m thinking this’ or ‘Let share a couple of tips-and-tricks that I’ve learned about the firm during my tenure here.’ That was something that she didn’t have to do, especially since we were so focused on the problem at hand. But she knew that it was important for me to build my knowledge here. She made sure to make the time for that. Ultimately, it made me a far more effective team who made a greater impact.”
Indeed, “the people” has been the Class of 2017’s refrain for what they’ve enjoyed most about McKinsey over the past year. Dilber describes her peers as “whip-smart, unassuming, a little quirky, and engaging.” Milleman takes it a step further, calling her McKinsey peers “people whom I greatly admire and want to be like one day.” O’Gorman herself admits that the people were the driving force behind why she joined the firm. It was a differentiator she noticed from right from the get-go at her interviews.
Go to Page 3 for In-Depth Profiles of 12 McKinsey Hires