We make history at McKinsey with Assel. Never before, to the best of our extensive knowledge, has anyone ever joined McKinsey, BCG or Bain after 5 years of maternity leave. Assel accomplished this feat. Before her leave, Assel had worked at an audit firm and had never worked at Bain, BCG nor McKinsey.
Assel came to us with this unique challenge: could we help her join McKinsey after 5 years of raising children? In addition, should she lower her sights, just to get back into the workforce, by first working as an executive assistant aka personal assistant at McKinsey?
5 years is a long time! It may not seem that way but think about how distant the events mentioned below feel. These milestones occured when Assel was last in the workforce.
There was the huge Fukushima earthquake devastating Japan that caused all the nuclear problems, the Arab spring protests began in early 2011, Steve Jobs passed away in 2011, the Occupy Wall Street protests began in the latter half of 2011, Barack Obama released his long form birth certificate, the royal wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton took place in April of 2011, Amy Winehouse died in that year as well, R.E.M. broke up after three decades, Russell Brand and singer Katy Perry filed for divorce. Those are some of the events in 2011.
Imagine if you had been out of the workforce for 5 years. You don't know what is happening and you don't know what is new in business. Your networks have all withered. You are busy taking care of two (or more) babies. You do not have time to skill up. You are busy and far away from the professional world.
5 years is a long time. It is more than 1 US presidential term.
This TCO program covers the crucial areas of case interview preparation such as brainstorming, estimation, PEI, full cases, resume editing, etc. However, it goes further and addresses the particular challenges of interviewing with firms after a LOOONG time away from the professional workforce. Those include:
1) Communication skills and networking
2) Appearance and image management
3) Learning ability: speed, age and focus
4) Leveraging experiences during unemployment
5) Accepting less pay and lower titles just to get in
6) Balancing your family/personal life and career
7) Planning your application, given your situation. What to do and what not to do
8) Confidence issues due to a prolonged stay away from the workforce
And there are many others. So the issues Assel faced are like nothing most of us can understand. We dig into these and many more of challenges. Even if the issues are not relevant to you, seeing how we address them can help you address your own challenges. Even if your working gap was caused by traveling, a sabbatical, unemployment etc. our approach of not making excuses, but rather explaining the insights/value gleaned from the experience is certainly going to help you in your interviews.
We can place a client into McKinsey after 5 years of maternity leave because we use a proprietary teaching approach. We work on root cause issues as opposed to teaching the same things to everyone. We still focus on the fundamental skills but the way we teach it is generally different. We do not teach frameworks and all our work is done by former partners.
This is one of the most exciting programs we have ever done because we had 3 weeks to do this. Not 3 months. Not 6 months. Not 1 year. We had 3 weeks to get Assel ready. And those 3 weeks were not guaranteed. It could have been shorter if the interview date was moved earlier. Yet, we took on the challenge and were enormously successful. In the last call you will be able to listen to Assel talking through her interviews and how it worked.
TCO IV demonstrates the Firmsconsulting approach of accepting the most challenging assignments when it comes to dealing with clients. Because the more difficult the client situation the more we grow and the more it improves our ability to develop training to help FC members achieve their moonshot goals. Your goal should be to change the world and McKinsey must be a mere stepping stone.
In this program we will address the challenging obstacles faced by mothers returning to the workforce and how to overcome them by repositioning alleged weaknesses as strengths. Shopping, planning schedules etc. provide mothers with unique insights and business judgment which should be correctly elevated and not hidden. We teach you how to leverage these activities that most ignore as irrelevant skills.
Image from mnchilemom under cc, cropped, added text.