Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class Of 2018

Yuja Chang

McKinsey Office: Taipei

Hometown: Taipei, Taiwan

MBA Program, Concentration: Wharton, Management

Undergraduate School, Major: University of California, San Diego, Computer Science

Focus of current engagement: Digital transformation for a bank

Why did you choose McKinsey? I am fortunate to have had the chance to work in both a corporate and startup environment prior to Wharton. After a few years of working experience, I started to understand what I truly enjoy, which is a methodology-focused work environment with a fast-pace that allows me to solve interesting problems in creative ways. One of the many things I enjoyed about startups is that once I have an idea, I can jump on it and try multiple ways to solve it. However, the downside is most of the time there are not enough resources or experts to guide me through the process. At McKinsey, I get the best of both worlds. The work is structured yet the projects are interesting and challenging, not to mention fast-paced. I particularly enjoy problem-solving sessions where I get to toss ideas around with a team of experts, eventually turning ideas into reality and making a positive impact for our clients.

What did you love about the business school you attended? I graduated from Wharton this past May and recently had the opportunity to reflect on what I’ve enjoyed the most in the past two years, which can be summarized in two themes – the power of humility and the value of trust in business.

Being confident without attitude can be an art and sometimes MBAs are blinded by their stellar credentials and glamorous resume. However, one thing I love about Wharton is how down-to-earth people are, and how people make decisions based on evidence and analysis, instead of prejudice and biases. Being humble offers the opportunity to respect one another and gives us the confidence to act without arrogance, which eventually leads to trust and collaboration. The tremendous trust and respect this community has resulted in incredible and long-lasting effects.

What lesson from business school best prepared you for your career in consulting at McKinsey? As someone who has been known for being innovative and always thinking of new approaches, I learned the importance of linear thinking, such as data analysis and problem-solving, through my time at Wharton. The ability to think in a structured way while keeping a creative mindset really brings a different perspective, which often helps me come up with solutions that would otherwise be overlooked.

Tell us about an “only at McKinsey” moment you’ve had so far. One thing that impressed me most is that the spirit of ‘obligation to dissent’ is embedded in our everyday life. No matter what discussion I’m having and how senior my counterpart is, people are not shy to speak up and share their opinion. I found this very rare in other work places. Seeing senior partners or experts being this humble and willing to discuss and elaborate on their thought process is always encouraging.

Another only at McKinsey moment is the opportunity to interact with client senior management no matter what your level or tenure is. For example, even as a relatively-new joiner, I have the chance to engage with multiple VPs or even senior VPs on a daily basis on my current engagement. I genuinely think this type of exposure does not happen in most organizations, not to mention the trust and relationship I’ve built with them.

What advice would you give to someone interviewing at McKinsey? I have two pieces of advice. One is to not underestimate the importance of the personal experience interview. Compared to other consulting firms, McKinsey emphasizes the behavioral interview as much as the case interview and really wants to know about your values, your leadership experience and abilities, your communication skills and who you are beyond your CV and ability to discuss a case.

The second piece of advice is to use the case interviews as a benchmark to see if you will enjoy working at McKinsey. The ambiguity and time pressure you get during a case interview are similar to situations we are in when joining a new client engagement. Hence, treat those case interviews as a way to not only assess your ability to deal with unknown under pressure but also see if this is a job you are truly passionate about.

Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey and how has she/he helped you? The person who has had the biggest impact on me at McKinsey is the engagement manager I worked with on my first study. I got staffed on a project my second week after joining, I was nervous to embark upon a study with unfamiliar topics in a new location. However, my anxiety was quickly put at ease once I met her in person. Knowing this is my first study, Samantha was very patient and helpful. To me, she is more of a peer or counselor, than a manager.

Moreover, she knew about my atypical background – someone with technical experience and having worked at a startup – and did not see it an issue but as interesting and an advantage. In fact, she treasured my different perspectives and turned them into valuable output for our study. I really appreciated it when she’d run ideas by me and help me voice my opinions to leadership and our client. The genuine caring and support I received from Sam, on top of the on-the-job coaching, helped me feel welcomed and empowered to start on the right track at the beginning of my career at McKinsey.

My greatest personal or professional accomplishment is…prior to joining McKinsey, I co-founded a startup that provides remote assistance to blind and visually impaired individuals through wearable devices and live-streaming technologies. The startup has since helped thousands of blind people and is still growing!

A fun fact about me is… I used to be a bartender back in college and mixology has always been my passion. Given the busy schedule I have now, I’m slowly shifting my focus to coffee. That being said, I won’t be surprised to see myself being a barista, making coffee in a coffee shop one day!

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