Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class of 2020: Kaleigh Killoran

Kaleigh Killoran 

McKinsey Office: Toronto, Canada (transferring to Vancouver in March/April 2021)

Hometown: Vancouver, Canada

MBA Program, Concentration: Harvard Business School

Undergraduate School, Major: Western – Richard Ivey School of Business, Honors in Business Administration

Focus of Current Engagement: Organizational transformation of a large Canadian bank

Why did you choose McKinsey? I came to business school wanting to pursue a career in global health. I had deferred my offer to Yale’s MPH program so that it would begin immediately after my MBA. During my first-year internship at HBS, I worked for the Clinton Health Access Initiative on a very interesting strategy project for increasing access to HIV self-testing kits. I absolutely loved the work but realized the people who had roles I was excited about in the global health space were not folks with an MPH degree. Rather, they were strategy experts, many of whom were former consultants. I decided I wanted to build my problem solving and strategy skills in the next chapter of my post MBA life. When began my research on consulting firms, I was immediately drawn to McKinsey because of its diversity in industries, geographies, and people. Specifically, McKinsey was the most global of the firms I was interested in, both from a client base and employee perspective. It was the most diverse firms in terms of industries it serves, ranging from significant public and global health contributions to private sector product design and transformations.

What did you love about the business school you attended? The two things I loved most about my business school were the following:

* How global, diverse, and interesting the student body was—I left business school with some of the closest friends I’ve made in my life and have every intention of keeping them past our 50th Below is a photo of some of my best girlfriends from business school whom I hosted at my family’s ranch in Arizona:

* The case method: I absolutely loved the case method and the way it forces you to take ownership of the situation and truly put yourself in the shoes of the decision-maker. It was fascinating learning from all my classmates. I was blown away by how many times I came into the classroom thinking I had the answer and there was no other way to look at the situation and then being persuaded by the arguments of my peers and leaving with a multitude of perspectives.

What lesson or skill did you learn from training (formal or informal) at McKinsey and how has it helped in your role? Formally, I have taken advantage of McKinsey’s phenomenal learning platform and completed courses in the healthcare, pharmaceutical and medical devise industries. This included a technical mini-MD course that had modules on regenerative medicine, oncology, the central nervous system, surgery and orthopedics, and the cardiovascular system. I really enjoyed going deeper than just the business model.  Informally, I feel as though I have truly improved by communication and synthesizing skills.

Tell us about an “only at McKinsey” moment you’ve had so far. My “only at McKinsey” moment came at the end of 2020. I was preparing a workshop with top global public health stakeholders to align on future priorities for neglected tropical diseases while, at the same time, the firm was hosting a variety of sessions highlighting the incredible work we were doing around COVID. I felt extremely grateful to be a part of a firm that was in a position to contribute to solutions during this challenging time in history.

Tell us something you’ve learned about yourself or something that brought you closer to teammates or clients during the COVID-19 pandemic?  McKinsey did a great job at onboarding my class of associates remotely. Many of us felt as though we made real connections during those first few weeks and we continue to lean on each other. Below is a photo of a group of associates from the Toronto office who got together for a socially distant golf game back in August:

In addition to onboarding, my teams have been great at checking in on everyone’s mental health and ensuring we get to know one another despite the remote settings. For example, I’ve been leading virtual workouts for my team and those moments when pets, kids and partners pop in our zoom backgrounds really bring us together.

What advice would you give someone interviewing at McKinsey? I have three pieces of advice to give someone interviewing at McKinsey:

  • Network only as much as you need to do: Once you feel like you have a sense for which firm and which office you want to work for, there is no need to do hours more coffee chats unless you’re genuinely interested in something in particular about a person’s background. Folks at the firm are always happy to chat with you, but know that this is for you and your learning and will likely not impact your chances of receiving an offer. I had classmates who spent hours and hours networking, and only a fraction of that on case prep, who were disappointed when they did not receive offers.
  • Invest in your PEIs: Make sure to leave ample time to prepare for the personal experience interview. Similar to the case, you need to practice your top down communication skills when sharing your experiences.
  • Love the process: Personally, I loved the case prep and remember thinking that even if I didn’t get an offer all the practice had been worth it because I learned a tremendous amount in preparation. I hope you feel the same!

Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey and how has she/he helped you? Elizabeth Pears, an OrgSolutions specialist, has had the biggest impact on me so far.  She was a mentor since the first day I joined her client engagement. Today she is my engagement manager and she does a phenomenal job making our team vocalize and achieve our personal goals each week, whether they are have dinner with a significant other, workout X times a week, or walk the dog X times a week. She takes significant time to explain the inner workings of the firm and supports me both professionally and personally. Despite having never met in person, I have a strong personal connection to Elizabeth and foresee us staying friends and mentor/mentee for a long time.

My most meaningful achievement (professional or personal) and how it made a difference is… My most meaningful achievement was when I brought together fellow GE employees to teach a group of Kenyan physicians how to create a business plan and financial model. This helped them raise $2M dollars to build two medical oxygen plants in East Africa that were estimated to save more than 80,000 lives. During COVID-19 this company, Hewa Tele, played critical role in Kenya’s preparations to tackle COVID-19 by scaling up oxygen supplies needed to keep the most critically ill patients alive. The founder, Bernard Olayo, was even interviewed by Bill Gates during his Heroes In The Field series.

A fun fact about me is…I was a CrossFit coach and when I was living in Kenya in 2016, I won the CrossFit open for the country and was deemed “fittest in Kenya”.  It is a title I know full well is far from the truth!





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