McKinsey Office: London
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
MBA Program, Concentration: INSEAD
Undergraduate School, Major: Harvard College, Visual and Environmental Studies
Focus of current engagement: Capital management for a global bank
Why did you choose McKinsey? I chose McKinsey for a mix of professional and personal reasons. Prior to joining, I worked in the retail and apparel sector, and I noticed some of the best industry insights were often coming from leaders who were former or current McKinsey consultants —Imran Amed, Achim Berg, Jennifer Schmidt, Delphine Arnault, Jean Baptiste Voisin. They all have interesting careers and backgrounds and they are testaments to McKinsey’s ability to attract and develop talent.
More personally, my two roommates at INSEAD were from McKinsey. Funny enough, we almost never spoke about work. Knowing them in a purely personal context made me realize I would not only meet impressive colleagues but also find lifelong friends at the firm.
What did you love about the business school you attended? Most business schools market themselves as ‘global’ and ‘diverse’ but there’s definitely a wide range in that claim. During my first week at INSEAD, I learned no nationality makes up more than 10-12% of each cohort, which is very different from other programs.
We joke that everyone at INSEAD is a minority and that’s true without a dominant majority. There’s a constant cross-pollination of ideas across business, politics, and culture. INSEAD remains a microcosm of what I hope my life will be: global, stimulating, and fun.
What lesson from business school best prepared you for your career in consulting at McKinsey? There were many days at INSEAD where you had more work than there were hours in a day: almost 12 hours of back-to-back courses, an extracurricular meeting in the evening, a company presentation, a few hours of homework, a few hours of reading, a party to attend…and don’t forget you need to eat, exercise and sleep.
Almost all business schools have demanding full-time programs, but the one-year, multi-campus design of INSEAD adds a layer of complexity of less time, but with more logistics and travel. I’ve always leaned toward structure and efficiency when it comes to how I run my life, and INSEAD pushed the limits of how much I could manage.
At times, working at McKinsey can be similarly demanding, but what I learned at business school is that you can’t expect to do it all beautifully all at the same time. INSEAD taught me to build great habits that allow you to focus on things that matter most. Once these habits become second nature, you get more breathing room, and you can build from there.
Tell us about an “only at McKinsey” moment you’ve had so far. McKinsey is most often brought in when things are either unclear or not going very well. These situations are not easy to navigate, so it is critical to be skilled at having difficult, but necessary, conversations. These can manifest in a few different ways: perhaps it’s delivering constructive feedback to your manager, disagreeing with a client’s current strategy, or questioning the approach of senior leadership. We are encouraged to be diplomatic, but ultimately, we are expected to tell the truth.
During my orientation at McKinsey, I questioned the encouragement to ‘mold ourselves into CEOs’? Is the current archetype of the CEO one that should be perpetuated, especially when there are more CEOs named John than there are women on the Fortune 500 list?
I still can’t believe that question went over so well with the office leadership, some of whom still remind me about ‘firing the first shot.’ I’m grateful to work somewhere where ‘obligation to dissent’ is a core value and expectation and that it is equally true for new joiners and senior colleagues.
What advice would you give to someone interviewing at McKinsey? Beyond the necessary advice of prepping for cases and personal interview questions, I’ll share my personal approach to tackling stressful, evaluative situations: take the time to figure out what helps you become the most confident, happiest version of yourself.
I feel best around mid-morning when I’ve finished a run outside, had some protein for breakfast, read at least one section of the Financial Times, and listened to a Michelle Obama speech.
Although this routine may seem like a parody, it genuinely helped me feel composed during interviews. It’s easy to be intimidated but remember you should be evaluating McKinsey as much as McKinsey is evaluating you.
Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey and how has she/he helped you? When Mr. Rogers – the iconic American children’s television star, and not Messrs. Rogers in the Toronto and San Francisco offices – accepted his lifetime achievement award at the Emmys, he asked everyone for ten seconds of silence to remember the many people who have ‘helped you become who you are.’ In no way have I achieved anything close to changing the course of public television (yet) but it does leave me speechless how many people at McKinsey have taken an interest in me, taken time to teach me, to advocate for me, and wanted what was best for me.
So, a simple, heartfelt thank you to Zdravko Mladenov, Marcus Lockard, Ella Flaye, Liz Ericson, Christine Kuo, and Melissa Dixon.
My greatest personal or professional accomplishment is…before McKinsey, being part of the team that helped orchestrate a successful turnaround of the Old Navy brand. I was fresh out of Gap Inc.’s Retail Management Program, put in charge of a multi-million dollar category, and given exposure to the incredible leadership of Stefan Larsson and Chris Goble. Delivering double digit growth on my category required teamwork, creativity, and perseverance. It was a magical time at Old Navy and the absolute best start to my career.
A fun fact about me is…I was a Junior Olympic fencer. A less fun fact is I don’t use Facebook or LinkedIn so I am unable to be added to your professional network (at least not your online one).