Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class of 2019

Junji Okawa

McKinsey office: Tokyo, Japan

Hometown: Tokyo, Japan

MBA Program, Concentration: London Business School, Finance

Undergraduate School, Major: Keio University, Business Commerce

Focus of current engagement: Building a mid- to long-term sustainability strategy for a large conglomerate

Why did you choose McKinsey? There are three reasons for my choice. First, it is the variety. I have not yet determined my focus and want to explore lots of different industries, functions, and business environments. By exposing myself to so much, I will have a better feel for what issues and topics I want to devote myself to in the mid- to long-term of my career. My second reason is McKinsey’s global reach. I have been fortunate to live in various parts of the world and know being in a global and diverse environment is key to my personal and professional growth. The third is confidence. McKinsey requires you to maximize the level of your input, process, and output which pushes you to think deep and fast. My McKinsey experience will give me the confidence to solve some of the most difficult problems in the world.

What did you love about the business school you attended? The diversity at London Business School is second to none. In my MBA Class of 2019, there were students from more than 60 countries and everyone added value by sharing their life experience during classroom discussions, social and career events, and trips to their home country. While learning from incredible professors together with talented classmates, I traveled the world unlike any other time in my life. As part of the football club, we traveled to Spain, France, and Bulgaria. During my summer internship, I went to Kenya and worked at a venture capital firm focused on health-tech. Looking back at the two years at LBS, I see the world with a more global lens and that was a factor in my decision to work at a global firm like McKinsey.

What lesson or skill did you learn from training at McKinsey and how has it helped in your role?  At a conceptual level, the biggest learning for me is attention to detail. When we listen, write or speak, nuances of issues and solutions need to be to the point, simple and concise. From a practical perspective, the ability to synthesize a tremendous amount of information and have a crisp response to “so what” is critical. I recently conducted client management interviews from 30 different divisions and needed to synthesize all the input in a single slide and narrow down the messages into three main points. This ability to synthesize is common here and incredibly valuable.

Tell us about an “only at McKinsey” moment you’ve had so far. I have served two clients and both were leading companies in their industry. In both studies, what was common is the amount of exposure I had with the management. We are always thinking about how to communicate crisply to these leaders, how to gather facts, synthesize, iterate and advise. What excites me through the process is the moment when art meets science.

What advice would you give someone interviewing at McKinsey? Prepare thoughtfully. Go through our website for what we look for from the candidate because everything is communicated there. Preparing for the case study is important, but so is communicating your personal experience. If you have questions about what we do and if it’s the right fit for you, reach out to any of our colleagues. Recruiting is critical to our firm and everyone will be more than happy to take the time and talk with you. Our recruiters help serve as the conduit to our people and the firm…ask them questions, ask to talk to current consultants, ask for whatever gives you a good glimpse into McKinsey.

Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey and how has she/he helped you? My current engagement manager has helped me in terms of communicating with me and teaching me more about the McKinsey method of problem-solving and client service. For example, it is not only important to get to the right solution but it is also significant how you get there. Having the right building blocks especially in the first couple months to a year is critical when you are leading a project so I’m learning those skills now.

My most meaningful achievement (professional or personal) and how it made a difference is…    My most meaningful professional achievement was when I was on a transformation study and played a role to change the client mindset. Transformation projects can face resistance from clients who prefer the status quo so client leadership is a vital skill I am learning. On a personal note, I am supporting an NGO focused on revitalizing a community in Tohoku, which had a catastrophic disaster from 3.11 Tsunami. This NGO uses nature, specifically the local forest and ocean, to teach young children. I supported the team mainly by creating a business plan and model to raise additional funding.

A fun fact about me is… It is amazing how a man who used to go out most nights can change so much by having a child. I love my daughter and I’ll share an example of how I am engaged no matter where I am. There is an app from my daughter’s school updating the latest photos and activities on a weekly basis. No matter how busy I am, once I get an update alert my goal is to open the app and press “like” faster than any other moms and dads.

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