McKinsey Office: San Francisco
Hometown: Kampala, Uganda
MBA Program, Concentration: Stanford GSB, General Management
Undergraduate School, Major: Electronic and Communications Engineering
Focus of Current Engagement: Asset Management Operations Strategy
Why did you choose McKinsey? My only professional experience before business school was entrepreneurial and I wanted to learn more about how large and successful companies function. However, I had only worked in financial services, primarily in East Africa, so I wanted to work for an organization that would give me access to industry, functional and geographical options. On paper, McKinsey checked all those boxes. Still, I ultimately chose to come here because of the people. I spoke to current and former McKinsey colleagues through the interview process who were super invested in my success, served as resources, and shared honest and candid thoughts on what it was like to work at McKinsey. I ended up building strong connections with many of them, which was a key factor in my decision.
What did you love about the business school you attended? Oh, I loved so many things about the GSB! First, was the amazing people I met and the friendships I made. Coming into business school, I’d heard alums talk about making lifelong friends and I was initially skeptical. However, I met some of the nicest, and most caring, thoughtful and brilliant people at the GSB whom I became very close to and who have made the US feel like home. At the GSB, I was pushed to show more vulnerability, which was extremely difficult at first, and use that to build trust and strengthen relationships, something I didn’t do much of before, possibly because of cultural influences and other life experiences.
What lesson or skill did you learn from training (formal or informal) at McKinsey and how has it helped in your role? I’ve been surprised how much learning to communicate in a top-down way helps in my role. Whether it’s in presentations, problem solving sessions, or emails, I’ve found it to be the most effective way to deliver a message, particularly to more senior people, and it saves tremendous amounts of time which is in limited supply in consulting.
Tell us about an “only at McKinsey” moment you’ve had so far. Coming from an entrepreneurial background, the sheer scale of things done at McKinsey makes so many moments feel like an “only at McKinsey” moment. In just six months, moving from helping a payments company build and scale a new product across the world to working on massive M&A engagements, feels like an “only at McKinsey” moment. And then hearing about all the similarly impactful work everyone else is doing at the same time, sometimes I’m blown away.
Tell us something you’ve learned about yourself or something that brought you closer to teammates or clients during the COVID-19 pandemic? At times, working during the pandemic has felt transactional. You are getting onto a Zoom call, having a minute or two of chitchat, and then diving into the content you wanted to discuss. This is unlike in person, where you have little pockets of time to build relationships with your team. Some of the teams I’ve been on organized virtual team events to create space where we aren’t on a call to deliver on a piece of work but to get to know each other. Whether it’s sharing a meal on zoom, playing skribbl, or a cookie tasting, I’ve gotten closer to my teammates which is something I really looked forward to when coming back to the firm.
What advice would you give someone interviewing at McKinsey? Two things I’d advise someone interviewing at McKinsey: prepare diligently and speak to McKinsey people to learn more about the firm, the work we do, and the culture.
On preparation, case interviews aren’t completely straightforward and, in my experience, being good at casing is often a function of practice. Doing live cases with both current and former consultants as well as other people interviewing for these roles was very helpful. Not only do you get to learn about how to break down different types of problems, practicing with multiple people gives exposure to how others might approach solving a problem which can be a great learning experience.
To the second point, understanding the culture and hearing from consultants with different backgrounds and interests helps one identify if this is a place you’d be excited about working in and if you’d thrive here.
Who has had the biggest impact on you at McKinsey and how has she/he helped you? The lead on my first project when I was a summer intern has had the biggest impact on me so far. He was very intentional about mentorship during that first engagement, doing weekly feedback sessions and giving in-the-moment tips on how I can do great work. Since returning to the firm post-business school, he has continued to be a mentor and has continued to give me advice on how I can grow and thrive at McKinsey.
However, the most important thing he did was to support me while I was going through a tough family situation over the summer. In the middle of my internship, I had to quickly leave the US to go and see a sick family member. I was genuinely anxious about leaving during this engagement as I feared it could impact my chances of getting a full time offer. He was very supportive of me leaving to see my family, which completely removed my anxiety and was a big reason why I chose to come back to the firm. Beyond the work, having colleagues who were extremely supportive and thoughtful in a tough time made it clear this was a great place to work.
My most meaningful achievement (professional or personal) and how it made a difference is…Helping build a company that’s transforming financial services in East Africa. We built products that extended financial access to large parts of the population and transformed how small businesses operate. In addition to that, helping influence policy that furthered financial inclusion was particularly meaningful. Those were very long and tough years but seeing how peoples’ lives were impacted by the work we were doing was extremely fulfilling.
A fun fact about me is…I only started appreciating the outdoors when I moved to the Bay Area a couple of years ago. I’m not sure what I was thinking about when I chose to move to a place where almost all the social activities involve being outside, but I’ve been converted.
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