Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class Of 2020

McKinsey GLAM 2020


That’s a testament to the new normal – one that seems to be working well for everyone, Bozarth adds. “The past year has offered people a tremendous amount of functionality. I have many of my team members who are in interesting locations all over the country, whether it is in their parents’ house or in a friend’s basement. This has given folks the flexibility to be in the location they want to be and work the hours where they want to work more than has been traditionally allowed.”

The relative ease of transitioning online was expedited by how proactive and resourceful McKinsey’s team became. Kevin Lubega’s team, for example, would play skribbi or dine together on Zoom.  For fun, Jennifer Solman’s teammates would anonymously post pictures of the insides of their refrigerators and guess whose they were. In many ways, such activities helped new MBAs bond more quickly and closely with their teammates, writes Philip Pohlman.

“Typically on a project you only see one another in the context of work. In a work from home world, people’s homes, children, pets, hobbies, and taste in décor unavoidably collide with the workplace. I am the parent of a three-year-old, so I was initially skeptical of how understanding my colleagues and the clients would be of my juggling the little guy and work. I underestimated how gracious and kind our colleagues are.  David, my son, has since become a Zoom favorite in all of my team rooms and it’s been really great. As a result of being forced to share more about ourselves, it’s brought us all closer together.”

McKinsey Singapore colleagues Andrew and Karen


For the Class of 2020, the move online also opened up new opportunities. Starting out, Fernanda Pupe Colaço was buffeted by “an avalanche of information, the loneliness of a home office, and a dash of impostor syndrome.” In response, she learned to ask for help from teammates who were happy to walk her through her questions. During the pandemic, teams also created a Chief Experience and Inclusion Officer (CEIO) – a role that forced Aston Hamilton to step out of the comfortable background.

“For one of my recent projects I was the CEIO for my team. From leading virtual team dinners, virtual magic shows, and our well-lauded Whimsical Wednesdays, my role gave me new opportunities to engage with my team and my clients. Before the pandemic and remote working, I would be more inclined to be heads down hammering at the latest nail that would cross my path.”

In the end, COVID-19 has become a reminder of the staying power of McKinsey’s model for solving problems and managing clients. “We’ve had a very strong year,” adds Danielle Bozarth.  “The changes over the past year have meant that our clients need us more than ever. One of the things that comes with that client demand is that we are hiring more folks. I think it is a great time to come to work for McKinsey and we’re continuing to increase our hiring. This summer, we will have our largest ever class in North America for our summer class and we will have our largest ever class entering in the fall for full-time as well. We believe there is a continued and exciting role that consultants will play in this world of accelerated change.”

Last year, McKinsey hired students from 370 different higher educational institutions. In 2021, the firm is beefing up its recruitment efforts. For future MBA students, the firm has also launched McKinsey Early Access, a summer program where they can learn more about consulting and begin building a network with McKinsey consultants. In June, McKinsey will also be hosting a two-day virtual event, Inspire: Black, Hispanic & Latinx in Business, that includes team activities to help prospective consultants better understand McKinsey culture and the interview process. Indeed, engaging early is one strategy for students to stand out during recruiting season. Another way is to demonstrate versatility. As an MBA student, Danielle Bozarth explored a variety of functions and industries that stoked her curiosity. The return, she tells P&Q, came in ways she would never have anticipated. That starts with Chapter 7 and Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Law and Finance – a course that piqued her interest, but one she never anticipated ever using much.

People working at McKinsey office in Sao Paulo, Brazil


“[It] opened up my eyes to the intricacies of bankruptcy law and the dynamics around all the different financial instruments and laws and regulations that people need to work through,” Bozarth explains. “Even though it wasn’t particularly relevant to what I thought I would do, it has proven to be an incredibly valuable course for me over time. Of all my Kellogg classes, I’ve come back and referenced it as much as any other. I serve retail businesses and help lead our consumer and retail segment at McKinsey. Bankruptcies, unfortunately, are an area I’ve become quite familiar with over the past couple years in my work. It is not something I would’ve anticipated 15 years ago. Retail and consumer were very healthy sectors at the time. This foundational base of knowledge allows me to enter into the discussions I’ve been having with clients who’ve gone through bankruptcy.”

McKinsey also values a diverse set of viewpoints in recruiting. That can take many forms according to Bozarth. “When I go through recruiting classes, I love to hear stories about how people built things within their graduate programs or even built programs, volunteer organizations, or academic programs for their fellow students. Anytime people have the opportunity to really create something that impacts other people’s lives in a really meaningful way – we love to hear examples of that in the recruiting process. It is a great way for students to build their teamwork, influencing, and leadership skills.”

Traveling abroad during business school is another experience that can set candidates apart, Bozarth adds. “I visited multiple continents and went on multiple school trips at Kellogg. I spent a bunch of time in Africa and Southeast Asia and both of those experiences were really shaping experiences for me and opened up my view of the world and allowed me to have a broader, well-rounded perspective.”

McKinsey Freshman Diversity Leadership Academy 2019


When it comes to the all-important interview, what can MBA candidates do to make an impression? For one, don’t treat the process as life-or-death says Kaleigh Killoran. Looking back, she believed the experience was “worth it” considering how much she learned from preparation alone. Similarly, in his final interview with McKinsey partners, Aston Hamilton focused on living in the moment – and came away with some great memories along the way.

“My final interviews with McKinsey partners were special as each interview evolved into an exciting problem-solving session to crack cases that modelled real problems,” he recalls. “On multiple occasions, my interviewer and I turned a few heads as passersbys of our glass interview room itched to join in the fun when we erupted into bursts of laughter.”

For Philip Pohlman, interview success often hinges on a candidate’s ability to spin a tale. “The tendency can be to rehash MBA admissions stories, which really lay out a picture of how great of a performer you are, but I think that is the wrong approach. If you’ve made it into an MBA program and through the resume screen for an interview, McKinsey knows you are great and qualified. Instead, I’d encourage candidates to make sure the stories they tell really communicate how they deal with team members, conflict, and being wrong. If it wouldn’t make a compelling short story, then it’s probably not the right one.”

In the end, maybe the best advice may be for candidates to take themselves out of the equation and remember the bigger picture. “My advice is it is not just about you,” writes Ayesha Ahmed. “The contribution you make to the team and people around you is just as important as the work you do. The firm is very collaborative, and you need to bring that mindset in all your interactions during recruitment. If you have a mindset of ensuring the whole team grows and moves forward, as opposed to just yourself, you will likely be a great fit at McKinsey.”

What did the first-year McKinsey MBAs love about their business schools?  What advice would they give for case preparation and interviews? Click on the links below to get answers like these from recent McKinsey hires.

Consultant McKinsey Office Hometown MBA Program
Ayesha Ahmed London Islamabad, Pakistan INSEAD
Fernanda Pupe Colaço São Paulo Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Northwestern University (Kellogg)
Karina Gerstenschlager Chicago Los Altos, CA Northwestern University (Kellogg)
Aston Hamilton New York City Kingston, Jamaica Wharton School
Kavya Jacob Singapore Muscat , Oman London Business School
Kaleigh Killoran Vancouver Vancouver, Canada Harvard Business School
Kevin Lubega San Francisco Kampala, Uganda Stanford Graduate School of Business
Mariana Pareja Lima Lima, Peru London Business School
Philip Pohlman Chicago St. Louis, MO Northwestern University (Kellogg)
Jennifer Solman Toronto Winnipeg, Canada Harvard Business School
Krati Tripathi London Lagos, Nigeria INSEAD
Aaron Wilson Washington, D.C. Atlanta, GA University of Virginia (Darden)


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