Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class of 2021: Ikrame Bahhar

Ikrame Bahhar

McKinsey Office: Casablanca – Morocco

Hometown: Morocco

MBA Program, Concentration: INSEAD, General Management

Undergraduate School, Major: Mohammadia School of Engineers, Ms. in industrial engineering

Focus of Current Engagement: Corporate strategy for a Telco client in Africa

Why did you choose McKinsey? I’ve always been driven by changing or improving things around me. I was impressed by the impact the firm has in the region and I wanted to be part of such an honorable mission. During my recruiting process, we’ve been told how the firm supported eradicating polio or increased electrification access in Africa. These examples spoke volumes. McKinsey also invests in pro-bono projects and keeps the social impact at the center of its priorities (e.g., the firm has helped a social school become more financially sustainable to give access to people who come from unprivileged backgrounds).

I also appreciate how McKinsey pays attention to colleagues’ well-being and development. I’ve been privileged to have close coaching and mentoring from more experienced colleagues since day one and I am grateful for what they helped me achieve so far.

What did you love about the business school you attended? I loved how INSEAD helps build global business leaders around the world. It starts with a diverse cohort. Our class had people representing more than 75 nationalities; each of us would bring a different perspective and an exotic flavor to social activities (e.g., Latin American week, Africa conference, countries discovery, etc.). I remember a class of economics and management in developing countries. There were 20 of us, each one coming from a different country, and we were all eager to share what we see in our regions. It was fantastic and eye-opening.

Moreover, INSEAD has four campuses and I studied in two of them: Fontainebleau in France and Singapore. Each region allowed me to get more exposure to its specificities and to the opportunities that are there. I also got to meet the alumni network in each region, and it was exciting to see that you can meet with the community wherever you go.

What lesson or skill did you learn from training (formal or informal) at McKinsey and how has it helped in your role? During my first year at McKinsey, the firm offered the opportunity to participate in public speaking classes (which I did). I liked how the course was practical and based on learning by doing. We learned many communication skills that we applied and received feedback for, not only from the professor but also from our peers.

Tell us about an “only at McKinsey” moment you’ve had so far. I never believed I would work in seven countries in Africa and the Middle East in just three years. In every project, I would put all my heart in understanding the country’s context, working towards what will bring sustainable value to the client’s and getting connected with the culture.

Tell us something you’ve learned about yourself or something that brought you closer to teammates or clients during the COVID-19 pandemic? During the COVID-19 pandemic — and especially when the weight of quarantine was heavy on everyone — we decided to introduce a PIE (Physical, Intellectual and Emotional) check-in. My team tried it out and it brought us closer to each other by creating a safe space for us to do a small introspection moment before starting the day.

What advice would you give someone interviewing at McKinsey? Don’t forget the second and third level insights. Don’t focus on the result of your quant answer or the obvious elements in the exhibit only but think thoroughly of the so-what (i.e., what are the causes and the potential consequences for such results).

Trust the process. Your interviewer wants you to succeed and they will guide you through the interview. Be flexible and eager to react quickly to your interviewer’s questions and remarks.

Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey and how has she/he helped you? I met one of my McKinsey managers during one of my very first projects. Her drive and presence inspired and taught me a lot. She genuinely cared about my development and would carve out extra time to teach me how to approach the work without financial or consulting background. She inspired me to stretch my goals and always aim high as I deliver on them. Over time, I developed a stronger bond with her, and I would regularly consult her for advice, guidance, or just emotional support.

My most meaningful achievement (professional or personal) and how it made a difference is… My most meaningful work was a project in which we helped a governmental digital agency define its digital roadmap. We defined a set of initiatives to drive digital transformation of the country from a governmental, economic, and social perspective. This effort has helped the agency gain digital momentum and drive several internal and external partnerships to transform the ways citizens and businesses interact with the government and do business.

A fun fact about me is…Don’t share with me your favorite song if you know I’ll like it. Otherwise, I’ll play it on loop until you don’t like it anymore.


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