Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class of 2020: Jennifer Solman

Jennifer Solman

McKinsey Office: Toronto, Canada

Hometown: Winnipeg, Canada

MBA Program: Harvard Business School

Undergraduate School, Major: University of Manitoba, Accounting and Finance

Focus of Current Engagement: Transformation and growth strategy

Why did you choose McKinsey? I chose McKinsey for the people and the opportunities. I worked in a professional services role before business school, and I knew how important it was to feel connected to your colleagues in this type of environment. Throughout the recruiting process, I met so many smart, interesting people from McKinsey. I remember going to a dinner hosted by the McKinsey Canadian offices – everyone made me feel at ease and I felt like they genuinely wanted to get to know me and connect with me. I’ve continued to feel this way now that I’m working at McKinsey – I’ve been surrounded by great, supportive colleagues. In addition to the people, I knew McKinsey would provide me with many diverse experiences. I wanted to explore different industries and functions, and felt there was no better place to do so than at McKinsey.

What did you love about the business school you attended? I loved learning through the case method at HBS. The case method challenged me in ways I never expected. I had to learn how to think on the fly, adapt to the ever-changing discussion, and debate and defend (and sometimes change) my point of view. The faculty encourages a lively discussion, interspersed with their own world-class knowledge and expertise on the topic at hand. The case method allowed me to learn from my peers – an accomplished and diverse group, to say the least. There were many moments where I was humbled by the experiences my classmates brought to the classroom, and I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from them. On a more personal note, I made many amazing friends at HBS that helped create a memorable and meaningful experience.

What lesson or skill did you learn from training (formal or informal) at McKinsey and how has it helped in your role? One of the most essential skills I am learning at McKinsey is the importance of effective communication. Solving complex problems is so much more than just analyzing information – it’s about being able to form insights based on analysis and communicate these insights effectively and concisely. Effective communication is in everything we do – whether it be a problem-solving session with teammates, an email updating the partner on the status of a workstream, or a PowerPoint presentation for the client. Clear communication is at the forefront of every aspect of the job, and it is something I am constantly thinking about as I go about my workday.

Tell us about an “only at McKinsey” moment you’ve had so far. I’ve been amazed by the breadth and depth of resources available at the firm. If you have a question or need information about a particular topic, someone at McKinsey can help. Everyone is incredibly willing to share their expertise. At first, I was intimidated by the thought of emailing someone I didn’t know to ask them for insight on a particular matter, but I quickly realized people at McKinsey are incredibly responsive and keen to help.

Tell us something you’ve learned about yourself or something that brought you closer to teammates or clients during the COVID-19 pandemic? My teams have gotten incredibly creative when it comes to fun ways to get to know each other. A few weeks ago, my engagement team organized a game of “Guess Whose Refrigerator” as a team bonding event. One of the associates on my team asked each of us to take a picture of the inside of our refrigerators, and we had to guess whose was whose. I’m pretty sure we spent an entire hour laughing. While the pandemic has been challenging in a lot of ways, it has also given us the opportunity to get to know people in a completely different way than we otherwise would have.

What advice would you give someone interviewing at McKinsey? My piece of advice when it comes to case prep is to focus on quality over quantity. It can be tempting to get in as many practices cases as you can, but what really made a difference for me was actually taking time after a practice case to synthesize feedback and really reflect on areas that went well as well as areas I could improve. There is no “right” number of cases to do before your interview, and I quickly realized I would be best prepared by spending more time on each case and focusing on concrete learnings I could apply to the next case. I also would advise taking time to prepare for the personal experience piece. While case prep is important, don’t forget to spend time preparing the stories and experiences you want to share for the personal experience piece of the interview.

Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey and how has she/he helped you? There have been so many people who have had an impact on me at McKinsey. For this, I’m going to have to pick my fellow associates. I did my internship during business school at McKinsey and I’m still close to many people from my summer cohort. When I joined full-time, I was grateful to once again connect with many people from my starting class. Joining in a remote world is certainly different than what any of us planned, and I’ve found it so refreshing to share the experience with others. The fact that we’re all in this together makes if feel a lot less intimidating.

My most meaningful achievement (professional or personal) and how it made a difference is…As cliché as it sounds, business school has felt like my most meaningful achievement so far. I’m so glad I made the decision to get an MBA – it was something I thought about for several years. Business school taught me so much about myself, and opened my eyes to many different perspectives and insights. It made me a much more well-rounded thinker and the skills I learned will serve me well into the future, both professionally and personally.

A fun fact about me is…My classmates at business school constantly made fun of me (good naturedly, of course) for referring to moving to Boston as “escaping winter”. Coming from Winnipeg, where we routinely have winter temperatures that feel like minus 35 to minus 40 Celsius, Boston winters felt mild to me. It became a running joke at business school, and I very quickly realized my perception of winter is definitely unusual.



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