Q&A with Ale
1.What did you know about McKinsey before joining the firm?
Before joining the firm, my knowledge of McKinsey was fairly limited. I was aware that it was a consulting company frequently referenced in business related news. It wasn’t until I started working here, in the McKinsey Solutions team, that I realized the reach and scope of the firm and its worldwide operations. I was surprised at how readily available (and easy) it is to learn and connect with people involved in all areas, all the way from emerging markets, to political and organizational restructuring to environmental impact, and everything in between.
2. How has the firm impacted in your life?
The firm has opened the world to me, both at a personal and professional level. The network you build while at McKinsey is extremely vast; every person you meet is a new learning opportunity. Professionally, it exposes you to what’s going on around the world and it exposes the world to you, thus allowing all of us to, little by little and collectively, shape the future. McKinsey culture has reinforced my belief that it’s almost completely up to us to decide what and how much we want to learn; you simply have to be eager to do so.
3. Is the promise of doing “work that matters” at McKinsey just a marketing hook, or is it something that you found to be true in practice?
It’s easier said than done but at the end of the day your work at McKinsey truly matters. Although our operations here in Costa Rica are not strictly client facing, we do constantly support projects and engagements where the client is either directly or indirectly involved. The impact we deliver varies greatly with each area but the implications on clients (and thus end users) and society is very evident. Through internal expertise collectively developed over many years, we’ve gathered sufficient knowledge on how to best help clients adapt to current, and most importantly, future changes.
4. It is said that at McKinsey “you have a voice”. How does this translate into the day to day?
There’s so much to learn at McKinsey, regardless of your tenure or role. It doesn’t really matter if you’re a 0+1 or a 5+, you will be able to formulate and express your opinion. In fact you are constantly asked to do so. I will never forget my first couple of months with the firm; I was asked to question, ask, challenge and propose changes to everything and anything without hesitation. Many times, a fresh pair of eyes is all that’s needed to notice errors, flaws and opportunities of improvement in existing processes and methodologies. At McKinsey, you’re encouraged to express your opinion, no matter how much it deviates from the standard.
5. What keeps you coming every day?
The simple fact that every day will present me new challenges, new achievements and new goals that have the potential, if seized, to have a positive impact.
6. What do you do in your free time?
I’m not a fan of labeling part of your time as “free time”. Everyone should be free 100% of their time; the moment you feel like you’ve stopped doing that means you’ve stopped enjoying what you’re doing.
I’d rather say my life is a mix of three broader areas; health, family & friends, and learning. If you really think about it, none of those three areas can exist without the other. Learning involves work, reading, listening, watching and simply paying attention to the little details (it’s amazing how much you learn from little details). Family and friends is the engine of it all; it’s what keeps me going. Finally, I’m an avid marathoner and with it, I’ve learned to maintain good mental and physical health while enjoying the process. Sure, there are times when it all seems a bit too much to handle but for the most part, balancing all this is a matter of having a plan, being organized and enjoying every step of the way.
7. What one experience have you had here that you don’t think you would have had elsewhere?
The biggest and most important distinction between McKinsey and other places is the people. Not only do we find individuals with great talent, expertise and charisma, but these individuals also form part of larger groups who collectively hold those same values and work with each other to deliver breakthrough client impact. Daily experiences and interactions with people from all sorts of backgrounds have allowed me to venture into, and learn about, multiple industries or sectors. The scope of McKinsey’s work is unrivaled.