Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class Of 2018

Daphne Hemily

McKinsey office: Toronto, Canada

Hometown: Toronto, Canada

MBA Program, Concentration: University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, Strategy and Change management

Undergraduate School, Major: McGill University, Bachelor of Arts and Science –Biomedical Sciences and International Development Studies

Focus of current engagement: Transformation and organizational design

Why did you choose McKinsey? My goal is to have a meaningful impact on the most difficult social challenges at an increasing scale as my career evolves. McKinsey is the place that will help me do that.

Beyond impact, I chose McKinsey because of its people. I was first attracted to McKinsey because of the genuine interactions I had with such a diverse set of thoughtful and accomplished individuals. This came to life during my first two engagements which were led by a human rights lawyer and a professional hockey player with very different strengths I could learn from. However, they both had strong communication skills, shared values, and an effective way of working which combined to make it easy to integrate as a team and produce great results for our clients.

I thrive in environments where each collaborator offers a distinct point of view, an interest to learn from new ideas, and an openness to debate toward a creative solution. I have found this stimulation during team problem-solving sessions, which are my favorite part of the day.

What did you love about the business school you attended? Rotman offers a holistic approach to business and management necessary for today’s and tomorrow’s leaders. My experience at the Leadership Development Lab was transformative. The course challenged me to be a better leader in all aspects of my life and then taught me how. Through self-work and experiential learning, this class explored first how to lead oneself, then how to apply those skills to lead others. For example, we reflected on our behaviors, motivations, triggers, and their underlying assumptions. I loved the relationships I formed with many classmates from my MBA class, which was a diverse, international, and impressive cohort who challenged my thinking and helped me grow.

What lesson from business school best prepared you for your career in consulting at McKinsey? Clearly define the problem statement you are trying to solve. It’s an important first step in problem-solving that is often poorly done. Most complex problems don’t have a clear right or wrong answer, but instead, have better or worse solutions based on trade-offs and priorities.

Tell us about an “only at McKinsey” moment you’ve had so far. During my onboarding, we had a session on unconscious bias that sparked a really honest, and sometimes uncomfortable, group conversation. I was surprised and impressed by the depth of self-awareness and courage people showed to share such personal experiences in a professional setting after only two days together. Initially, I thought this courage and awareness may have been unique to our cohort. I have since realized that self-awareness is encouraged in all training and fostered throughout McKinsey.

What advice would you give to someone interviewing at McKinsey? Take a moment to step back from case prep, networking, and behavioral stories to reconnect with the specific ways you stand out. We all have interesting and valuable strengths and it is important they are clear in your mind so you can walk into the interview authentically as you – that is who McKinsey wants to meet.

If you start feeling really stressed, especially if or when you freeze during case prep (we’ve all been there!), take time to disconnect and reset by doing something you love. Then you can return from a positive place. The interview process – and consulting work in general – can be tough but rewarding, so building resilience with a genuine smile is an important skill to have.

Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey and how has she/he helped you? Alex Yeo was the person who first encouraged me to consider management consulting and specifically McKinsey. Before our conversation, I hadn’t realized how many of my skills from delivering medical aid in humanitarian emergencies were transferable to management consulting.

He coached me during several key moments and communicated in a direct yet caring way. He helped me get a realistic sense of what it would take to overcome my challenges. He also prioritized celebrating successes, something easily forgotten in fast-paced and demanding work. Beyond McKinsey, he’s been a role model for how to be present in a loving family, how to maintain hobbies, and how to stay active in the communities important to you.

My greatest personal or professional accomplishment is…Managing the difficult handover of an international NGO hospital project in South Sudan on time and within budget. The process included negotiations with four United Nations organizations, nine NGOs, national, state and municipal government officials, community leaders, rebel militia and national army. Understandably, many thought a successful transition was impossible. I had an extremely committed team whose hard work allowed the 49,000+ annual patients to receive quality care throughout the handover. Beyond defying expectations, what I am most proud of is ensuring all the 264 local and international staff had professional training to support their desired next steps; 70% of staff secured a job before the end of their contract.

A fun fact about me is…It took me a long time to learn how to snorkel. Each time I saw a school of fish, I smiled so much that my mask would flood! I now try to stay zen and contain my grin, which works most of the time.

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