Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class Of 2017

Farah Dilber

McKinsey Office: San Francisco

Hometown: Atlanta, GA

MBA Program:  UC Berkeley Haas School of Business

Undergraduate School, Major: University of Virginia, Political and Social Thought

Focus of current engagement: Executive leadership team assessment for a global advanced industry company.

Why did you choose McKinsey? Consulting was the best way to get a lot of business experience in a short amount of time – a top priority as I transitioned out of education.  McKinsey was a no brainer for three reasons:

Impact: McKinsey has an unparalleled depth of expertise with its size, global reach, and investment in knowledge.

People: I just loved the people I met at McKinsey — whip-smart, unassuming, a little quirky, and engaging. They aced my airport test.

Make your own McKinsey: No boss, no org chart, no problem. Even as an associate, we’re encouraged to have an ownership mindset – to pursue our passions, build out leading edge capabilities, or start a new venture.

What lesson from business school best prepared you for your career in consulting at McKinsey?

My Power and Politics course was immensely useful in thinking through how I’d navigate client and colleague relationships. With clients, it was all about learning how to influence without authority. Within McKinsey, it’s about self-advocacy and influence in an environment where I have support but the onus is on me to seek out interesting staffing and stretch opportunities. Professor Sameer Srivastava, a former consulting partner himself, made clear that a “let-the-work-speak-for-itself” attitude wasn’t enough—you have to do great work and cultivate champions. With that in mind, my final project was a career development plan which laid out my approach to growing my network and personal influence. I still reference that plan today.

Tell us about an “only at McKinsey” moment you’ve had so far. Only at McKinsey would a partner, addressing a group of 100+ first and second year consultants, request the group stand up, raise their right hand, and pledge that we live everyday as if we’re trying to get fired—by ruthlessly protecting our time, taking months off to explore the world, and doing McKinsey on our own terms.

What advice would you give to someone interviewing at McKinsey? Lean in to your strengths. I was never going to impress McKinsey with my analytical skills. So, I got my case math to a passable level and then doubled-down on being crisp, clear, and calm in my communication—a skill that came far more naturally after years of teaching. Not only did my interviewers get a clear sense of the value I’d bring to my teams, but I also felt more confident throughout the day.

What do you expect to be doing in 5-10 years? Doing work I’m passionate about with people I love to work with in a role that challenges me. That could very easily be at McKinsey or as a non-profit operator. I’m setting-agnostic. What’s important to me now is developing a well-rounded business toolkit and a couple functional focus areas so that, in 5-10 years, I will have developed the enterprise orientation and functional expertise to be a senior leader…. or counsel them as a consultant.

My greatest personal or professional accomplishment is…Teaching Devonte, a fourth grader, to read for the first time.

A fun fact about me is…I was once the personal chauffeur for the rapper Ludacris.

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