I left McKinsey and a salary of 120,000 euros for mental health

This text is based on a conversation with Angelina Lu, a former business analyst at McKinsey & Company. It has been edited for length and clarity.

I studied Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois, USA). However, after two summers working in a research lab, I realized that the life of a researcher was not what I wanted: I wasn’t interested in the routine of going to a lab to do research.

I was more interested in the business side of materials science than the technical side, and I considered another career: consulting, which is very popular among Northwestern graduates.

McKinsey & Company hired me as a business analyst

My base salary was $80,000 (about $73,000 at current prices) plus an additional performance bonus when I joined in 2016. McKinsey paid 7% of qualifying compensation as a pension plan contribution, and I received a bonus of 5,000 dollars (4,500 euros) per contract. ) it raised Total salary I got in my first year Up to $106,650 (97.165 Euros)

The bonus was calculated as a percentage of my base salary based on my results after the first year. If my performance was exceptional, I got a bonus on top of that. The following year, this bonus became my new compensation along with my base pay.

When I left McKinsey as a senior business analyst, my salary was about $130,000. As far as I know, McKinsey does not negotiate pay and does not 'play’ the numbers. Whether you are hired as a business analyst or an associate, or if you have competing offers from other companies, your salary is non-negotiable.

To me, a $130,000 salary wasn’t worth it, so I quit. I took a pay cut to join a tech start-up. I also wanted to explore something else in my career.

McKinsey’s workload was mind-numbing

We had an average shift of 12 to 15 hours. On Mondays, I wake up at 4 or 5 am before heading to the airport to catch the first flight to meet my client. I used the flight to catch up on work, get ready for the day, or take a nap to get more rest.

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I still remember how depressed I was on a flight to a client’s city. As the plane landed, my phone started buzzing with email notifications. The sound of notifications was so stressful for me that I moved the Gmail app to the bottom screen of my phone so I could stop looking at it and try to calm down.

Some weeks have been known to have a crazy workload Due diligence (carefully persevere) two weeks. When a consulting firm thoroughly examines a client’s business, operations, and other relevant aspects. At this point, some of us are We worked until the wee hours of the morning and slept only a few hours before returning to work at 8 am.

I was urged by a very good colleague. He is a partner on my team who has been with the company longer than me. Every time there was a problem with a project we were working on, he would say that I didn’t do my job well and made myself look bad in front of management. The situation was very stressful. I remember it was winter in Chicago (USA). The stress caused severe allergies on the face and eczema on the hands I couldn’t stop scratching.

I started to lose my temper and patience

McKinsey hires very smart people who often come from similar backgrounds: most are highly educated or highly accomplished in their fields. Consultants like myself are used to a very mindful lifestyle. I stayed in luxury hotels for $400 a night (365 euros) and the company gave me food credits of 120 dollars (110 euros) per day. I didn’t have to worry about extraneous administrative tasks: McKinsey took care of that.

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McKinsey has a dedicated travel team that is responsible for booking flights for consultants. If we need to change flights, instead of standing in line to contact flight agents, we call our in-house travel service and they take care of everything. It saved us a lot of time.

However, I realized that I was getting too used to this lifestyle when I started to lose my humility and patience. I waited in line very slowly. I was very impatient and thought, „How can these people be so incompetent?”

Thinking about it now, I recognize it I was very stressed and used to this consultant lifestyle where the company catered to my every need. Real life, as I understand it, works very differently.

I was proud to share about my declining mental health

Saying „I’m depressed” out loud defeats you, so I never admit it.. Many consultants I know are proud, myself included.

So I often can’t admit that I don’t know how to do something or that I’m on the verge of a nervous breakdown because it defeats me and sets me up for failure. Go ahead.

I don’t want to impose my emotions on others because everyone has their 'plates’ full, so I never openly discuss stress with my team, my mentors or my bosses.

There are positive aspects to working at McKinsey

Not all bad. I get a place at McKinsey and speak in the consulting room senior It has given me a boost of confidence. McKinsey provided me with a platform that made it very easy for me to open doors: Having „McKinsey” on my resume has allowed me to get conversations with companies I’m interested in.

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McKinsey also offers a program “Secondary” (Secondary, or secondment) is a temporary assignment in which a McKinsey employee or consultant moves to another organization to work on a specific project or initiative.

This way, if you want to take a break while working at McKinsey, you can join other companies affiliated with the program to test new features without actually leaving.

Yo I chose to work for six months at a small consultancy in Kenya. It was an incredible experience where I was able to explore the country and build a strong network of contacts.

I even met my husband through McKinsey – we got married in March.

Now I’m a product manager in technology and I want to see the impact I’m making

After McKinsey, I became a product manager at fintech company WealthSimple. Unlike my time in management consulting, I have met many people from diverse backgrounds such as college dropouts and successful startups.

Another thing I love about my job as a product manager is project execution. In consulting, I look at the high-level strategy and one or two use cases, and then hand it over to the client to execute. But in technology, I can gather information to make an immediate impact.

I think it’s important to talk about the realities of counseling. A lot of people only hear positive things, but I think it’s important to mentally prepare people for the challenges they may face in the industry. This way, they can make informed decisions about pursuing a career in consulting for reasons beyond glamor and prestige.

McKinsey & Company did not respond to a request for comment.

If you’d like to opt out of management advice and share your story, email Aria Yang at [email protected].

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