On Diversity & Inclusion at McKinsey & Company by CBHP Alum Nicole Chu

Nicole Chu

: BBA Canfield BHP, Management Information Systems; BA Plan II Honors

Graduated: 2016

Current Employer: McKinsey & Company

Current Title: Senior Business Analyst, currently doing a fellowship with McKinsey’s All In, Diversity & Inclusion team

The summer after my freshman year at UT, I participated in the BBA Business Law program in Edinburgh. People often claim that studying abroad can be a transformative experience–and for me, it was. I loved exploring Scotland, I met great friends, and–in the middle of a lecture on torts–it dawned on me that, contrary to what I’d believed for years, I didn’t want to go to law school.

So, in the fall of my sophomore year, I went back to the drawing board on careers. Looking back, I discovered consulting almost by accident. I took a summer internship at a consulting firm not knowing what to expect. That’s where I discovered that consulting involved many things I’d loved about the idea of practicing law–client service, critical thinking, and crafting narratives. I also fell in love with the collaborative nature of the work and the fact that it often required quantitative analysis (I’ve always been a data geek at heart).

For my post-junior year internship, I narrowed my focus to consulting. I spent that next summer as an intern with McKinsey’s Houston office. For ten weeks, I worked with an amazing team helping a retail client develop its five-year growth strategy. When I received an offer to return to McKinsey after graduation, I signed it on the spot.

I’m now starting my fourth year at McKinsey. I spent three years serving Consumer Packaged Goods and Retail clients across a range of topics, often gravitating toward analytical projects. On one team, I built a model to forecast the growth of key product categories based on industry trends, and on another, I designed a new organizational structure for a client merging siloed salesforces. Beyond my client work, I led Business Analyst diversity recruiting efforts at UT and for our Houston office.

Two months ago, I was offered a chance to marry two passions–interpreting data and advancing diversity–by joining McKinsey’s All In, Diversity & Inclusion team. In my current role, I apply the skills I developed as a client consultant to support McKinsey’s own strategy and initiatives for advancing gender parity, diversity, and inclusion.

Students often ask why I joined McKinsey and why I’ve stayed. For me, three things stand out:

  1. Emphasis on diversity and inclusion. McKinsey’s groundbreaking research establishes a compelling business case for gender and ethnic diversity; it also informs our approach to improving diversity and gender parity in our own firm and beyond. We have vibrant affinity groups for LGBTQ+ and black professionals, as well as U.S. networks for Hispanic/Latinx colleagues and Asian/Asian-American colleagues. We are also proud champions of the UN Women HeForShe campaign. I am inspired every day to be part of a team dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion within our firm and furthering the conversation around the world.
  2. Caring colleagues. At McKinsey, I feel supported as a whole person. Teammates celebrate my successes and help me through tough times. I have a set of close mentors – some assigned, like my professional development manager, and others that I met on teams or at office events–who I can call anytime to talk through a challenging problem or figure out what to choose for my next project. My colleagues have also been there for me outside of work. In April, I unexpectedly had to take short-term health leave, and the support I felt was incredible, from McKinsey HR to my colleagues, who checked in regularly and helped me navigate my return to the firm. I’ve made lifelong friends here, and it’s reassuring to know they have my back at the office and beyond.
  3. Strengths-based mentorship. Many people come to McKinsey excited to grow professionally, and mentorship is deeply ingrained in our culture. That said, I was surprised at how strengths-based our feedback culture is. Prior to McKinsey, I tended to fixate on constructive “things to improve” feedback and gloss over any praise. At McKinsey, we believe people should build on their strengths to become distinctive leaders, which is why feedback sessions always start with what I am doing well and how to take those skills to the next level. During my years with the firm, I’ve had incredible McKinsey mentors who have helped me recognize my strengths. Not only that, but they also actively created opportunities for me to lean into those skills, and I’ve grown exponentially–personally and professionally–as a result.

For any UT students interested in learning more, feel free to drop me a note (and please forgive any delay in responses).

Hook ‘em,

Nicole Chu

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