Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class Of 2018

Zhina Siadat

McKinsey Office: Vancouver, Canada

Hometown: Vancouver, Canada

MBA Program, Concentration: Wharton, Management

Undergraduate School, Major: UBC, Civil Engineering

Focus of current engagement: Manufacturing and distribution network redesign for a global medical device company

Why did you choose McKinsey? I chose McKinsey for many reasons, including the opportunity to get exposure to and learn about various industries, functions, and businesses around the world, and to work and be inspired by exceptional people every day. During my summer internship, I got to experience first-hand the remarkable level of support at the firm. It was incredible to see how much the firm invests in its people and their development and how much everyone contributes to our colleagues’ success. I knew then McKinsey was the right place for me.

What did you love about the business school you attended? I loved Wharton because it brought together a diverse set of people with different professional and personal backgrounds, who shared a common trait of intellectual curiosity. In my two years of business school, I learned just as much from my classmates as from my professors. I also formed many strong friendships and shared memories with my classmates that will last a lifetime.

What lesson from business school best prepared you for your career in consulting at McKinsey? In short, being able to apply knowledge and experience gained in one setting to a completely new setting. The learning at business school came in different shapes and forms, from traditional classroom learning to solving real-life business issues during a case competition or a field project or engaging with business leaders during speaker series or company visits. This experience has strengthened my critical thinking and problem-solving capabilities and now I can apply my past experiences and knowledge to new engagements at McKinsey.

Tell us about an “only at McKinsey” moment you’ve had so far. I first heard about “Make your own McKinsey” when I joined the firm, and I assumed it referred to the flexibility in choosing what industry or function we could specialize in. Now after a few short months at McKinsey, I’ve learned this phrase means so much more. McKinsey encourages and enables its people to follow their passions and make a difference. I’ve been inspired by many examples of this, including the work a few of my colleagues are doing with high schools aiming to boost the number of women in STEM fields, or spearheading an initiative to engage and empower the Canadian indigenous community.

What advice would you give to someone interviewing at McKinsey? First, there is no magical number of cases that will prepare you for the interview. For some, it may be ten, for others, it may be more. Prepare to the extent you feel comfortable and confident in presenting your thinking in a non-generic way. Second, pay as much attention to the personal experience component of the interview and practice elaborating your stories, considering the “why” as well as the “how.” Lastly, be confident. Remember to pause and breath and stay calm even during the nervous moments of the interview.

Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey and how has she/he helped you? My summer cohort – we started this journey together and are there for each other as we think through our options and decisions in our new life as consultants.

My greatest personal or professional accomplishment is…deciding to leave my comfort zone and making a drastic career change. Prior to business school, I was a project engineer working on mega-size projects with incredible people. Although I was on a fast-track career path, I knew that was not what I wanted to be doing in 20 years. So, I left my job, city, and family to go back to school for an MBA I knew would open other doors for me. This was one of the best decisions of my life as it not only allowed me to change my career but also made me comfortable with the uncertainty and challenges that come with change.

A fun fact about me is… I love planning vacations – I usually plan my family’s trips and have multiple trips planned out in advance for myself.

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