Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class Of 2018

Yu Shimada

McKinsey Office: Tokyo

Hometown: Tokyo, Japan

MBA Program, Concentration: Columbia Business School, Corporate Finance

Undergraduate School, Major: Hitotsubashi, Business

Focus of current engagement: Marketing & Sales transformation for a global consumer luxury product company

Why did you choose McKinsey? I wanted to go back to client service after being at two enterprise companies. And the fact that I’d been in marketing for seven years made me realize I needed something new.

It was natural for me to choose the consulting industry as my next journey after CBS. McKinsey was my top choice because of the people on top of many other factors.

For me, who I work with matters more than what I do. After meeting with people from other firms, my intuition made me choose McKinsey and I am glad to say it was the right choice.

What did you love about the business school you attended? I loved how everyone was a “work hard, play hard” type. Every day, we would try to go out together. Every week, I had soccer practices with the team and some days, we would try to pull an all-nighter. I appreciated the balance we had between socializing and working, which gave me energy and helped me thrive the two years. And, at the end of the day, my classmates and I were dedicated to working hard and trying to learn.

What lesson from business school best prepared you for your career in consulting at McKinsey? The best lesson is that preparation is the best skill to have. At CBS, we always had to prepare before class, including reading a tremendous amount of pages to discuss in class. This became a weekly habit.

At McKinsey, our projects change on average every few months. We have to restart and prepare for the next project, which can be a totally different topic with a different client and with a different team.

The amount of work we put into preparation differs depending on the individual, but what I learned from business school is to prepare as much as you can beforehand to maximize your performance. I’ve done this since I’ve joined the firm and found it leads to non-stressful transitions between projects.

Tell us about an “only at McKinsey” moment you’ve had so far. Every project team I’ve joined so far has been multinational. Even when the client is Japanese, and they only speak Japanese, we always have someone who is an expert on our topic and that person may be from anywhere in McKinsey’s network of more than 120 offices.

The one firm approach of McKinsey, where we leverage all the knowledge we have within the firm, helps us bring the best from a global perspective.

Talking with my friends who work at other consulting firms has shown me they do not have this dynamic. Many other firms are more country-specific, but I like having global teams, learning from colleagues all over the world and bringing more diverse and interesting solutions to our clients.

What advice would you give to someone interviewing at McKinsey? Prepare thoroughly and, at the end, just be yourself.

There are two parts to the interviews: the case interview and personal experience interview. For the case interview, you need to prepare to a certain level because it is not an everyday exercise. You have to set your mind to it and problem solve.

I, however, find the personal experience aspect of the interview more important because it is your chance to really show who you are, describe some of your successes and experiences, and demonstrate qualities like team work, leadership, humility, and communication. It also helps you determine if you think you’ll like being a consultant.

At McKinsey, we work as one team and never alone. We are with teams every day… at the office, at our clients, even typically at the airport, in taxis, at social events, etc. The interview is an excellent way to find out if you think you will like it.

Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey and how has she/he helped you? I know this sounds vague, but I’d say everyone I have met so far. Every person on my teams and friends at the firm have supported me when I needed help. Most of the people at this firm like to talk about what they know and support people who need help… I mean we are consultants focused on helping clients after all. It really does not matter if the person we are offering help to is a business analyst, an associate, an engagement manager or a partner, we try to find an answer to whatever the question is and try to help.

My greatest personal or professional accomplishment is…I’m in the early days of my McKinsey career so, to date, my greatest professional accomplishment occurred in a former role where I helped grow one of the segments of a client’s business by 300% vs. its past year.

A fun fact about me is…I have a one-year old daughter whose name is Rin Michelle and I spoil her every single day. I am also a big foodie especially in Tokyo and New York, so let me know when you’re in the city!

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