Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class of 2022: Brooke Wages

Brooke Wages

McKinsey Office: Atlanta

Hometown: Raleigh, NC

MBA Program and Concentration:

MBA, MIT Sloan School of Management

MPA, Harvard Kennedy School

Undergraduate School, Major:

Mechanical Engineering, BS

North Carolina State University

Why did you choose McKinsey? 

After closing my first company, I took stock of where I was and where I wanted to be. This required me to do two things:

(1) I was honest with myself about my skills gaps.

(2) I made a clear list of the qualities and attributes I wanted in a work environment.

After reflection, it was clear that I wanted to work at McKinsey and, specifically, McKinsey’s Atlanta office. I knew the firm would allow me to impact organizations and communities, but I have been genuinely amazed by my colleagues at McKinsey and how we serve our clients.

What did you love about the business school you attended? I can say many spectacular things about the MIT Sloan School of Management. But when I talk to prospective students or reflect on my time at MIT, what makes me the most proud to be a Sloanie is the humility of my classmates. Business school can seem like a place where people are focused on fancy trips or maximizing shareholder value. During my time at Sloan, I met some of the most down-to-earth people. Classmates who wanted to learn more than they wanted to be heard.

What is your most meaningful accomplishment/professional accomplishment prior to your current role? In the summer of 2019, a dear friend, Sarika Ram, and I joined a startup accelerator program at Boston University. During that accelerator, we decided to pilot a Workforce Development program specifically for formerly incarcerated people, and we placed three people in jobs. Compared to the impact the firm does on a daily basis, three jobs don’t seem like much, but that was the summer I stopped planning a solution and actually did something. Even though the company did not last forever, it was by far my greatest professional accomplishment.

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 organization’s process? My biggest piece of advice is to be yourself and to try your best. Your very best will meet the needs of the environment you are supposed to be in. I spent a lot of time practicing and putting in the effort, but what matters most is showing up authentically and fully. I applied to grad school twice. The first year I wasn’t accepted to any program, so I took the following application cycle to strengthen my application, and the following year, I got full scholarships to both master’s programs. My advice is to try your best, be yourself, and don’t allow yourself to think life needs to go the way you desire for it to be good or valuable.

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? It took me a long time to determine if I wanted to join McKinsey. After business school, I saw myself working in social movements, and being at a large consulting firm like McKinsey seemed light years away from my original dream. I was afraid that I wouldn’t fit in, too different from the Excel wizards and strategy gurus. Since joining McKinsey, I’ve found that fitting in isn’t hard because everyone is so different and differences are expected and encouraged. There is no single personality trait or interests of a well-liked or high-performing consultant. I was not excepting McKinsey to be the most inclusive work environment I’ve been in but that is definitely the case.

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? One of my favorite clients thus far has been a community college. During this engagement, I helped the college develop its five-year strategic plan. The plan we produced referenced leading data, research, and lived experiences. We hosted listening sessions for students, community partners, employers, faculty, and staff to ensure that the strategic objectives and initiatives represented the entire community’s needs and not just complex models.

Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey, and how have they helped you? Sonya Kalara (they/them) was my first friend at McKinsey and is still my closest friend at the firm. They were a second-year business analyst when I joined McKinsey. We first bonded over a mutual friend since we were both at Harvard at the same time; when I was getting my Master of Public Administration, they were getting their undergraduate degree. Whenever I had a question, Sonya was super helpful. Now I feel so blessed to have them as my team lead / engagement manager. Sonya is one of the most compassionate, thoughtful, interesting, and engaged people leaders I have encountered.

Describe an “only at McKinsey” moment. People at McKinsey have truly varied interests. I just found out that one of my favorite team lead / engagement managers is a world-ranked ballroom dancer. Things like this happen all the time.

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? I’m unsure what is next, but I am happy and learning a lot at McKinsey and don’t see myself leaving anytime soon.

A fun fact about me is…A nickname I have from business school is “Bo.”


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