Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class of 2022: Jennifer Li

Jennifer Li

McKinsey Office: New York, NY

Hometown: Federal Way, WA

MBA Program and Concentration: Chicago Booth; Finance, Operations, and Entrepreneurship

Undergraduate School, Major: Cornell University; Chemical Engineering

Why did you choose McKinsey?  My excitement to join McKinsey came down to two main factors: the opportunity to create impact across a breadth of topics and industries and the mentorship/community.

On creating impact, I was particularly interested about the work within the Operations practice. As an engineer by training, I was excited to learn from experts whose white papers are cited in UChicago courses and build upon those learnings to create sustainable impact in healthcare. On community, while the recruiting process can be overwhelming at times, what I remember the most was how I felt encouraged and supported after each McKinsey interaction. I was grateful for how much time each person invested in me and am impressed that the level of mentorship and community continues as you join the Firm.

What did you love about the business school you attended? My favorite part of Chicago Booth was the flexible curriculum. Having come from a non-business background, it was important for me to tailor my course load to my academic and recruiting needs. Through the flexible curriculum, I was able to seek out courses in finance and entrepreneurship early on, which helped shape the remainder of my business school experience. Specifically, I really enjoyed the “Building the New Venture” with Lindsey Lyman (also an alum of the firm), as it showed me how entrepreneurship is equally grounded in the product/platform as it is in the people, which I’ve been able to apply during my time at McKinsey.

What is your most meaningful accomplishment/professional accomplishment prior to your current role? Seeing the first product I’ve worked on (Johnson’s Cotton Touch newborn line) being sold in stores nationwide (and globally)! It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to shape such an iconic brand, and I learned a ton from my amazing team members globally. Now that many of my friends are becoming first-time parents, I enjoy sharing my work with them through products they can use!

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? The PEI portion stood out to me because it enabled me to bring to life my real-world experiences. Whether it’s six years in the U.S. Army or 10 years as a special education teacher, each experience shapes candidates as a team member. I appreciated that McKinsey’s assessment allowed for the sharing of these stories as a holistic view of one’s application. My advice would be to place equal emphasis on preparing for each part of the interview. Often, candidates overlook the “behavioral” portion of an interview, but it should really be viewed as an area where one can standout!

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? Having come from industry and seen some outputs of consulting companies, I was originally skeptical if management consulting would create the actual impact that it often touts. I was proven wrong when I was able to work alongside the client every day to solve a problem and saw how the partnership helped enable them to achieve the impact they desired, whether that was ensuring a product was able to stay on the market or finding new ways of working.

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? For me, it means co-creating solutions that bring in diverse point of views and consideration of the journey to success. I saw this in action since my first study, where the engagement team was able to adapt our problem-solving approach to the changing needs of the client, while making sure we created an inclusive team environment where I felt empowered to share my ideas even if it was my first study.

Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey and how have they helped you? Your personal life likely does not stop just because you have a critical client meeting or you’re traveling in a different state. When one of those life moments showed up during a project, I greatly appreciated that Evgeniya Makarova, the partner on my study, went out of her way to make sure I would be able to balance my personal commitments with my development goals on the project. It was very inspiring to see her live out our firm’s dual mission (to our clients AND our people) and her leadership has helped me find a sustainable path in this industry.

Describe an “only at McKinsey” moment. Only at McKinsey do the people you meet during Embark, our firm’s onboarding training program, become lifelong friends. What started as questions about staffing or PowerPoint shortcuts quickly turned into birthday celebrations and holiday trips. I’ve greatly appreciated the support from my Embark class as I navigated all the twists and turns of my first year in a new organization and industry.

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 looking forward to the opportunity to further explore healthcare work at the firm. The unparalleled training and client exposure has prepared me to solve a variety of problems with rigor and leadership.

A fun fact about me is… I have a loving, miniature Australian shepherd! While having a dog with work travel can be difficult, I’ve really enjoyed finding time on the weekends to relax and teach him new tricks.


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