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McKinsey Rhodes Scholar

My best Michael Moment took place after I was placed at McKinsey and 8 months after I left the program.

It was my very first engagement and I felt miserable. Everything was going over my head and I was putting out fires hourly. My planning was shot with holes and my plan was to simply give the engagement manager what he wanted when he wanted it. A bad strategy indeed, but I had no choices.

Michael and I arranged to speak on that first weekend and we had a long chat about the engagement, my role, my planning documents, objectives and so on. We worked out a good plan and Michael explained each step I needed to follow to take control of the work . He stressed accountability at all times, which is different from responsibility – a lesson for me.

The moment occurred when Michael told me about his own first engagement and how badly that went. I was pleasantly surprised by that story.

I had assumed all partners were perfect and had these fairy tale careers. Michael found that funny and said that is how I should distinguish between true seniority/success versus a facade.

Partners don’t need to appear perfect because they are already partners. They have achieved what they wanted to in the firm and do not need to maintain any image. They will openly discuss their failures and weakness with you.

He gave me a few resources to prove this point. He said junior candidates focus on perfection because they think that is what is required. He stressed that I did not have to be perfect, but I should learn from my mistakes. This was a great call for me because he helped me realize making mistakes were fine, provided they were once-off and I could fix them. My philosophy on consulting changed for the better.

I have many other stories but this is the most recent and with the greatest impact.

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