Meet McKinsey’s MBA Class of 2022: Mridang Lodha

Mridang Lodha

McKinsey Office: Seattle

Hometown: Bokaro Steel City, India

MBA Program and Concentration: Duke MBA, Strategy and Innovation + Health Sector Certification

Undergraduate School, Major: Shri Ram College of Commerce (University of Delhi), Economics

Why did you choose McKinsey?

People: I was very impressed with the diversity of talent and mindsets the firm is successfully able to integrate to bring variations in views but consistency of client impact. I felt I could bring my whole self to work, and people would actually be interested in how different my experiences have been from theirs. In short, McKinsey did not only bring the diversity, but also solved for inclusion.

Projects: Scale and scope of what we do is unparalleled. We work with everyone across the spectrum of corporations to governments and everything in between. I was attracted to the idea of exploring multiple sectors and topics while developing the transferrable skills that come in a consulting career.

Mobility: As an international, I wanted flexibility with where I live and work and the option of moving around for personal reasons if I decided to. The national staffing model and incredible options of international exposure seemed lucrative.

Messaging: This was the most important factor. While most other firms were trying to convince candidates they offered work-life balance, McKinsey was honest on how hard this job could be but how they will support us in every possible way to make it sustainable. I liked the honestly and directness of this messaging. It meant they were not mincing words but genuinely believed in this philosophy. I have not been disappointed on that front so far.

What did you love about the business school you attended? Hard to put this in words, but Duke made me fall in love with myself again. I loved the diversity that the admissions committee worked hard to bring in. I appreciated studying in a small college town allowing domestic and internationals to mingle. Most importantly, I loved the sense of “collective success” – the success of one was success of us all and people taking out time to support each other.

What is your most meaningful accomplishment/professional accomplishment prior to your current role?

Hard to pick between the two of these:

First, was starting my own company and raising close to $100K in 10 minutes. This was instrumental in helping me scale my company and grow as an entrepreneur.

Second, was fighting facial paralysis during the peak of this startup, finding my resilience to face it and exiting the startup to find more meaningful endeavors – it taught me to be detached from success and truly find meaning in what matters both personally and professionally.

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? I think for me the PEI really makes us distinct. It allows a window into the mind of a candidate, really understand the context and how they made certain decisions. In this version of the interview, it actually does not matter how “grand” was your context, but how you managed the situation and what are you taking away from it that can be useful in the future. It illustrates the philosophy of “fail fast, learn faster”.

My advice would be to embrace authenticity – really dig deep into why you reacted a certain way and how you individually drove unique value/failure in a certain situation. Embracing this mindset will allow you to flip failures to learning opportunities. I am still working on it and find it extremely rewarding when I can flip the narrative.

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? I thought everyone at McKinsey was going to be extremely cut-throat, non-supportive and selfishly focused on their personal success. Part of it is interacting with consultants in high-stress and executive level situations and part of it is being intimidated by how accomplished everyone is at the firm.

That misconception was refuted right from the recruiting cycle, where I had folks talk to me for hours when I expressed a lack of confidence in my own abilities (being honest about what I was scared about actually helped). It grew stronger during my summer, but really came to shine when I transferred to the Seattle office. People were welcoming and I felt at home immediately. Even outside of the office, anyone I reached out to was always willing to hop on a call to talk about things despite a hectic schedule – all I had to do was show genuine curiosity and follow up to show interest.

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?

I think all the three key words here are crucial to our mission:

Accelerate –Companies hire us to deliver record impact in the least possible time frame – hence we have urgent deadlines.

Sustainable – We do really want our clients to grow and coach them to be successful on their own. Client coaching is an integral part of how we work with our clients – sharing our ways of working and walking them through our thought process.

Inclusive – Unlike popular opinion, we care about not just the executives, but the customers of the business and the workforce that makes the dreams of a company true. We ask all the right questions, push for all perspectives in a room, and drive impact that is holistic vs. just benefitting a select few.

Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey and how have they helped you? I think the list is endless but a few names that come to my mind:

Justin Chang (and his partner Peter), Jason Taylor: Their support during recruitment went beyond their interest in me as a candidate, but more as a person. This allowed me to embrace my professional story and personal attributes to bring my authentic self in the coffee chat (which given I am here at the firm must have landed well!).

Aniket Joglekar: Working with him is such a delight. We connected because I read some of his knowledge work and found it fascinating. He is a leader who shows how to support while they figure out their independent journey at the firm. He has supported me not just through my good days but been there for me during my bad ones, rooting and cheering for me.

Sarah Calkin Hallway: She leads the Seattle office and, to me, embodies the kind of leader I would like to be: caring, fun and yet impactful. She can command the respect of an entire room but not let that fuel her ego at all.

Joshua Reuben: He is a caring people leader and goes beyond the superficial markers of professional success to truly understand you as a person. I worked with him while going through a personal loss. He was truly inspiring to see how a team leader can drive impact not only for the client, but also shape the lives of its team members. He knows the power of his role and he embraces it with honesty, every single day.

Describe an “only at McKinsey” moment. During one meeting, a client asked me about my “wife.” Given I was new to the firm, I wasn’t sure how to bring up the fact that I am queer. My engagement manager quickly jumped in the conversation and said, “You mean his partner? Not all of us have wives or husbands.” Today, I am friends with that client and have helped them through their own personal journey of a family member coming out.

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? For now, I think there is a lot to learn and the role still keeps it exciting for me. However, I do plan to pursue entrepreneurship when I have my next big idea. My ideal career path would involve growing within the firm (maybe even transferring to some international offices for exposure), leave the firm for a few years to establish myself as an entrepreneur, and then return to the firm as an industry thought leader.

It’s hard to find a job that offers this diversity of experience, always keeps things interesting and actually helps you deliver impact at scale.

A fun fact about me is… I can drape a gown in less than 30 minutes without actually having to stitch any part of it!

DON’T MISS: MEET MCKINSEY’S MBA CLASS OF 2022

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