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A day in the life of a McKinsey Business Analyst

Consultant at the airport

What I learnt over my time in consulting is that there's no such thing as a typical day; there are days when all you do is crunching numbers on your excel models and days when so many things happen that you see more than a normal person would not see in a whole week. This is the good and the bad of consulting: no routine, no boredom on one side, stress to reinvent yourself everyday on the other.

What's clear to me talking to many people who wants to join consulting or at least are interested in this job is that they don't have a clue about what consultants really do on a daily basis. So let me try to help you guys out there by outlining one day in life of a McKinsey BA (i.e. taken actually from one of my recent cases).


11:30pm: Packing!!

It's going to be a long week, I am on a project in Atlanta. Being based in NYC this is pretty much a bummer, it means a total of 5 hours on the plane every week. I put my shirts, Ferragamo ties, gym gears in the suitcase and hit the bed.


5:00am: Alarm goes off!

First snooze

5:10am: Alarm goes off again!

Drag myself out of bed. No work out for me on Mondays (I use to spare 30 mins of work out every morning except when I have to wake up this f***ing early). Quick shower, I dress up and head into the limo pick-up waiting for me outside.

6:20am: Boarding!

I meet part of my team at the airport, have a quick bite with them while chatting and reading the newspaper. Then it's boarding time, luckily we fly business class so I have plenty of space for my suitcase (Consultant’s never check bags!) and this time around we don't have much to do before arriving at the client site so I try to take another turbo nap in my comfy business class seat.

9:00am: Heading to the client and first phone calls

My teammates and I land in Atlanta, jump into a taxi and head to our client. I check my personal emails on my Iphone. My phone rings: it's my Engagement Manager: time to really start working! The boss wants to know whether my excel model is finished and/or if there is any issue with it! He also tells me that we need to go through the model assumptions with the client in the afternoon to prepare the meeting with the client CEO coming up this Thursday.

9:30-11:30am: Excel modeling at the client site

I typically use Monday morning to align with my EM on the weekly schedule. Today he is stuck in a meeting with the client CFO for an update on the main messages to deliver in the coming CEO meeting so I use the morning to finalize the excel model and make it client ready (i.e. making it look readable and clear) and also to help an intern who just joined our team with some power point basic tricks.

11:30am: Check-in meeting with EM

My EM finished his meeting and joins the rest of the team in the "McK room" (i.e. our dedicated meeting room at the client site, just aside of the CFO office). We have a joint “check-in” meeting to agree on the deliverables for the day. I am done with modeling, the EM is happy with it so I can start to put the main outcomes of my model onto slides.

Consultants meeting

12:30am: Lunch

The team is starving so we hit the Italian restaurant by the client building. We chat about our past weekends and I tell my team all about the NBA game I attended. The EM steers the discussion back to our project and tells us about the call he had on Sunday with our partners and how they would like to structure the document for the CEO meeting.

On the way back to work I meet a division head who calls me to discuss an analysis he had given me some information for and to give his perspective about the raise of digitalization in manufacturing processes.

1:30pm. Short call with Legal dept

I jump on a quick conference call with our Legal team to catch-up about a confidentiality agreement contract we want to submit to an university professor we are going to involve to collect his perspective about the raise of digitalization in B2B companies.

3:00pm Client meeting

The EM and I meet the client controller to go through the model assumptions. The EM drives the conversation and I support him with details and evidences. The controller is positively surprised by the work we have done and congratulates us.

4:00pm Team debrief

I go out with the EM to grab a Capuccino before heading back to the "McK room" for another team debrief. Management consultancy involves a lot of meeting and teamwork. Being able to proof at the same time independence and team working attitude is crucial to grow within the organization.

5-6:00pm : Conference call with an industry expert from Tokyo

Often time McK relies on the opinion of external experts to have a deeper understanding about industry trends and dynamics. In this case I am interviewing a former COO of a Japanese company leader in the B2B batch manufacturing process (he is a personal friend of one of our partner from the McKinsey Tokyo office). I have previously prepared a detailed questionnaire I want to discuss with im. Luckily enough his English is very good and the call goes very smoothly.

6:05 pm: Catch-up with family

I call home and check in with my family to confirm my trip to Boston for next weekend. My family and friends by now are out of the office, heading back home… while I still have several hours of work in front of me!

7:00pm: Prepare work for tomorrow

I start to structure a market sizing model I will work on tomorrow: I outline the main hypotheses, analyses, assumptions and data needs.

7:45 pm. The McK team heads out to dinner

Before going to our favorite restaurant in town, we stop by our hotel to drop our luggage. Usually McKinsey treats us with luxurious hotels (to compensate for the nights spent away from family and friends) and the choice of the right hotel belonging to the right chain is of paramount importance for any consultant to maintain his/her exclusive platinum status! The whole team is pretty tired for the long day but we are all craving for our favorite food in town.

Consultant in the hotel room

8.30-9.30 pm: Dinner

9:45 pm. Return to hotel

Plug in computer and check my e-mail for the last time of the day. I download a document from a colleague based in L.A. who worked on a research about digitalization in manufacturing. I read some sport news and before shutting down my laptop I see how the client’s stock did today.

11:00: Bed time

Hit the bed after a long travel day. Need to rest because tomorrow is going to be a new long day.


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