Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class Of 2018

Tom Wichman

McKinsey Office: Minneapolis

Hometown: Neenah, Wisconsin

MBA Program, Concentration: University of Chicago Booth School of Business; Finance and Entrepreneurship

Undergraduate School, Major: Syracuse University, Television Radio & Film Production

Focus of current engagement: Preparing a chemical distribution company’s product team for a merger integration

Why did you choose McKinsey? Coming from seven years as a combat engineer in the US Army, I valued any opportunity that would provide exposure to continued development as a business leader. I turned down an investment bank offer, ultimately valuing McKinsey’s unrivaled reputation to grapple with the biggest and most challenging problems. During my summer internship, I fell in love with the ability to discover how I learn, work and problem solve best by being surrounded by really smart and caring teammates. I saw first-hand how McKinsey unlocks a person’s ability to be themselves, and that diversity in both person and thought were not simply recognized but celebrated.

What did you love about the business school you attended? It’s hard to say any one thing. I really enjoyed the incredible professors who maintained a high standard. I couldn’t have learned what I did—or have been successful recruiting—without the help of amazing peers. In the end, my best moments were potluck dinners with friends where we realized the food represented six or seven different countries and represented our exposure to even more cultural perspectives from incredibly awesome people.

What lesson from business school best prepared you for your career in consulting at McKinsey?  My two biggest lessons came from the following:

  • Professor Scott Meadow’s Commercializing Innovation class. It showed businesses are not built on certainty and perfect answers, but hustle, research, common sense and talking to people who can enable the decisions and plans necessary for success.
  • My peers and teammates who reminded me you can learn more from 20 minutes of understanding the experiences of those around you than from countless hours of research. Seeking opinions from those who have ‘been there and done that’ can be much more valuable than a stack of articles.

Tell us about an “only at McKinsey” moment you’ve had so far. Probably the best moment has been reuniting with one of my best friends who I served with in Afghanistan. After five years, our paths crossed again as colleagues, but this time at McKinsey’s Embark training for summer interns. He started in the Cleveland office. With us both in the Midwest, it has been great to continue to cross paths.

Another surprise at McKinsey is how fun it can be to meet people on the road. I’m a certified CrossFit trainer, and I go to CrossFit gyms at every stop and have enjoyed becoming a guest in other communities and seeing how they do things differently in different gyms.

What advice would you give to someone interviewing at McKinsey? Don’t take your foot off the preparation gas pedal. This career is an amazing opportunity to constantly improve and even interview prep reflects that. I often see many candidates slow down over holiday breaks, or before and after Round 1. Always keep pushing forward.

During case preparations, I would highly encourage developing a training timeline. I’ve found many forego personal time to reflect on feedback, practice individual skills, and really think of their stories of leadership for the personal experience interview for the sake of doing more cases. I encourage taking time for all of it, not just more case prep.

Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey and how has she/he helped you? Any job is only as good, fun, and rewarding as the people you work with. My first and current engagement manager, Jordan Nelson, has been incredible. He embodies what it means to be selfless. In a lot of corporate roles, politics and hierarchy can influence leader behavior. At McKinsey, I’ve noticed a premium put on service: Service to clients, service to your team, and service to finding the best answer. Jordan exemplifies this service-first mentality ensuring everyone is successful regardless of their experience, role, or needs. It’s a refreshing look at leadership.

Second, I would cite GLAM, McKinsey’s long-standing global LGBTQ+ network, as an incredible organization that creates a family at work unlike I’ve ever experienced before. It’s an incredible change to go from a world prior to the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell to a culture that truly respects individuals and thrives on promoting authentic communication.

My greatest personal or professional accomplishment is…For many US Army Captains, being a company commander is a capstone achievement, and I definitely agree. The chance to be a commander provided a leadership laboratory and enabled me to mentor platoon leaders and build and train an organization. It proved humbling and was a huge honor. In tandem, the Army provided a platform for incredible cultural exposure. From living in Germany for three years to working alongside Afghans, Romanians, and folks from across the US… it was a really distinctive opportunity.

A fun fact about me is…This year I’m playing in a kickball and dodgeball league and am on the McKinsey Minneapolis Broomball team.

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