Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class Of 2018

Tabitha Strobel

McKinsey Office: New York

Hometown: Bowie, Maryland

MBA Program: Harvard Business School

Undergraduate School, Major: United States Naval Academy, English

Focus of current engagement: Large-scale transformation with an advanced industries client

Why did you choose McKinsey? The big questions I had when I thought about joining McKinsey were: 1) Who am I going to work with; and 2) Will I feel empowered and supported enough to truly be successful?  On the first question, I met truly stellar people at McKinsey throughout the entire recruiting process.  Every person I talked to and met made me feel welcome and part of the team. It was essential to me that I felt like I could thrive and belong. The recruiting and interviewing process made me know this was the place. On my second question, I was being honest with myself: I come from a military background and knew I would have a lot of questions – about different industries, functions, everything. I wanted to join a place where questions are not only allowed but strongly encouraged. This level of intellectual curiosity coupled with the systematic support of McKinsey’s knowledge, training, and easy to find experts armed me with the right tools to be successful.

What did you love about the business school you attended? I loved the people! I forged incredible friendships with fellow classmates that I will cherish forever and established mentorships with world-renown professors I will foster in my career and life. Not to mention, I loved the sheer amount of talent people possessed which never ceased to amaze me both inside and especially outside the classroom. I knew a world-class gymnast who sang operatic music and a comedian who taught three fitness classes a day (while going to school!). All of that is to say the people I met at school challenged me in the classroom, helped me grow, and encouraged me to pursue my own hobbies and talents. They encouraged me to bring my full self to everything I do.

What lesson from business school best prepared you for your career in consulting at McKinsey? The case study method best prepared me for the fast-paced problem-solving of consulting. Problem-solving sessions where we tackle a client’s messiest problems are a lot like the 90-person discussions in the classroom. In both, you have to listen carefully and digest what is being said, develop and support your own hypothesis, and not be afraid to disagree. The energy from these classroom discussions is just as vibrant as the energy in the smaller setting of a team room.

Tell us about an “only at McKinsey” moment you’ve had so far. One moment of many so far was an impromptu brainstorming session I had with an executive member at a client. I applied a rough structure to our discussion; we bounced ideas off one another, and we traded the dry erase marker back-and-forth as we laid out a three-phase implementation plan. It was an exciting and energetic brainstorming session that left us both ready to charge ahead. I had a moment where I realized I had become a true thought partner with the client even though I was new at the firm. I had the opportunity to work with executive members from day one and developed a trusted client relationship. It’s an incredible feeling.

What advice would you give to someone interviewing at McKinsey?

  1. Be confident: You’ve prepared for the big day. You’ve done practice cases and run drills on some of your weaker areas. You’ve got it. Be confident you’re ready, courageous enough to form a hypothesis supported by data, and humble enough to call out ambiguity and uncertainty.
  2. Be you: You get a limited amount of time to display how you think and essentially what it would be like to work with you. So be yourself. Everyone brings something valuable to the table; make sure you bring it.
  3. Be curious: The problems you are tackling in the interview are real problems teams have faced. Be engaged and curious – it brings an energy to the discussion that is contagious.

Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey and how has she/he helped you? My engagement manager over the summer had an incredible impact on me. She taught me there is a place for someone like me at the firm. Before business school, I was one of the first women integrated on U.S. Submarines. There were three women out of a crew of 160 on my sub. In my first post-military engagement at McKinsey, I met Lita and got to work on a rock star team of mostly women of all different backgrounds. It was empowering in so many ways to know I could truly thrive in this environment. Also, we made a pretty amazing karaoke team – just saying!

My greatest personal or professional accomplishment is…My greatest accomplishment was safely navigating my submarine through congested waters. It took every person on the submarine to make it successful and we all were tuned into early warning signs of danger and the immediate actions that needed to be taken.  To see that level of dedication and collaboration was truly amazing. Looking back on all we had done and all we had traversed was one of the most rewarding accomplishments. It was scary and stressful but to know I was surrounded by extremely dedicated, loyal, talented, and intelligent people made it that much more worthwhile.

A fun fact about me is…I met my husband when we starred opposite each other in the musical “Guys and Dolls” during our undergrad at the U.S. Naval Academy. If there are any openings on Broadway, let me know.

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