Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class of 2022: Davon Robertson

Davon Robertson

McKinsey Office: Silicon Valley

Hometown: Providence, RI

MBA Program and Concentration: Stanford GSB

Undergraduate School, Major: Harvard University, Economics

Why did you choose McKinsey? When choosing career paths, the question I asked myself was “Where am I going to have the largest impact on economic mobility for the Black community?” Since starting my career out of college, that’s been my mission and something I think about every day. Ultimately, I didn’t see any better place to do that than McKinsey.

There’s a handful of reasons for this, but the one that shined through the brightest was that McKinsey is the “Mecca” of operational excellence. The alumni that have come through the firm (e.g., Sundar Pichai, Sheryl Sandberg, Jason Wright) have an immense amount of power and impact on society. If we’re going to solve the problem of Black people not holding seats of power (e.g., entrepreneurs, executives, investors), we’re going to have to increase the number of Black people at McKinsey – and more generally in consulting. I hope not only to be a person who will hold a seat of power but one who will open the pipeline for others.

Further, I was impressed by McKinsey’s Institute for Black Economic Mobility and the Black leadership at McKinsey such as Ammanuel Zegeye, Shelley Stewart, and Brian Rikuda (now at BET). who have similar aspirations.

What did you love about the business school you attended? So many reasons to love the GSB…in traditional consulting fashion I’ll give you the three Cs (culture, class, careers):

Culture: I loved the intimacy – it’s a smaller class (about 440 students) and by the end of the first year I felt like I knew almost everyone (especially with living in the dorms). Institutions such as “TALK” and small-group dinners only amplified that intimacy.

Class: So many great ones, but I use my Interpersonal Dynamics (aka “Touchy-Feely”) and Paths to Power learnings every day, whether at work or at home. I could go in depth here explaining the classes, but if you’re curious to know more I wrote an article called “Stanford GSB’s Top 5 Classes.”

Career: The diversity of career paths at the GSB is incredible. Last month I had a conversation on AI with a product manager, VC investor, and entrepreneur and we all had different perspectives on how it would grow and evolve. Grateful for the wide array of perspectives of my GSB friends that continue to make me a better operator.

What is your most meaningful accomplishment/professional accomplishment prior to your current role? I’m especially proud of how I led the Black Business Student Association as co-president with Meghan Hunter (who is now at the Equal Justice Initiative). We brought in the highest number of Black students in GSB’s history for the class of ‘23 (~45 students; 11% of the class) with a close to 90% yield. Also, threw a great BBSA conference where we brought in some big names. The highlight for me was interviewing Condoleezza Rice on how to bridge the wealth gap in the African American community.

When you think back to the different elements of the McKinsey assessment: the digital test (i.e., Solve), the Personal Experience Interview (PEI), and the Problem-Solving Interview, what stands out? What do you think made you successful and what advice would you give to other MBAs going through McKinsey or another organizations’ process? For “Solve” my advice is to take a little extra time on understanding what the assessment is asking. Like casing, you want to really understand the context so you can bring that understanding throughout the rest of the assessment.

For the PEI, have structured three-part, top-down answers to “why McKinsey?”, “why consulting?” and “why this office?”. The other parts of the interview are like your MBA interviews (e.g., storytelling of experiences), but the interviewer may dig a bit deeper.

For casing, get a crew of people to case with every other day…make sure you’re getting and giving cases. RocketBlocks was a great resource too.

What was an assumption you held—either specifically about McKinsey or the management consulting profession as a whole—that was proven wrong once you began working in your role? Why did you hold the misconception and how was it refuted? Not sure if it was an assumption I had before interning, but I wanted to test the hypothesis that I could do the work (e.g., the long hours, fast slide-making, conceptual thinking). After completing the internship, I came to the realization that McKinsey is a tough job, but extraordinarily rewarding if you put in the work. I attribute my growth mentality, high expectations, and ability to act on feedback to my success at McKinsey thus far.

McKinsey talks a lot about partnering with its clients to “accelerate sustainable, inclusive growth.” What does that mean to you and how have you seen it in action? It is helping our clients meet their biggest aspirations while also making sure we are recommending solutions for the betterment of our society, especially our must vulnerable communities that don’t have the power to advocate for themselves. Sometimes, it’s going to look like recommending short-term losses for long-term gains, but I believe as a firm we will continue to make recommendations that allow for sustainable and inclusive growth, even if they may be unpopular with our clients at that time.

Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey and how have they helped you? Can’t pick just one, so I’ll cheat and say two: Ammanuel Zegeye (Manny) and Sebastian Sinisterra-Woods (Seb). Both have impacted me in different ways as sponsors/mentors. Manny was a driving reason why I joined McKinsey in his work around the Institute of Black Economic Mobility. He has been instrumental to my success by engaging me on multiple McKinsey Black Network (MBN) initiatives and teaching me how to navigate the firm. Seb has been critical to my development as a consultant. His high expectations and ability to coach have supercharged my growth.

Describe an “only at McKinsey” moment: During my internship, I worked on a strategy engagement for a minerals company. As a part of it, we put together the comms to make an announcement of a new mineral deposit the company found. When the announcement was made, the company’s market cap increased dramatically. It was one of those “wow” moments when you realize the work you are doing has large implications, especially to Wall Street.

What’s next? It could be within McKinsey or beyond. How/In what ways do you think your time at McKinsey will prepare you for your next step? My goal is to make engagement manager within the next year and evaluate whether the partner path makes sense compared to other career paths I’ve looked at in relation to my mission of increasing Black economic mobility (e.g., entrepreneurship, CEO in-training, search, chief of staff, etc.). Whatever my next step is, my time at McKinsey has already helped me become a better storyteller, innovator (both conceptually and tactically), and overall leader.

A fun fact about me is…Not that many people know this but I’m a birder. I took an ornithology class in my 5th year of high school as a post-graduate at Phillips Exeter Academy and have stuck with it.

My favorite bird is the Harlequin Duck. It’s a beautiful bird, resembling a French harlequin with their blue, red, and white plumage. A flock winters in Sachuest Point, Rhode Island, a favorite birding spot of mine when I go home for the holidays.


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