Coming to Harvard Business School was a forcing function to re-think my career path. One thing was for sure, I was committed to not return to consulting post-HBS. Therefore, it was a surprise to my friends, and most of all me, when I decided to join McKinsey’s London office this fall.
Somewhat ironically, my decision to go back into consulting resulted from the incredible experiences I had at a tech startup this past summer in Zambia. Those three months in Africa gave me the opportunity to fulfill my goals of working in a tech and e-commerce startup, getting hands-on operational experience, and navigating in an international market. Zambia also exposed me to the role of a general manager, with touch points that spanned marketing, sales, business development, HR, IT, and other more nebulous functions. While I enjoyed every aspect of my time in Zambia, the answer to “What do I want to be when I grow up” was still evading me because “everything” didn’t seem like a realistic conclusion. That’s where McKinsey’s generalist model and its breadth across industries/functions came in.
Though I have been fortunate that my personal travels have taken me to various parts of the world, my professional focus had primarily been in the US. Thus, prior to coming to HBS I knew I wanted to work somewhere abroad. That was where London came in – a crossroad city connecting dozens upon dozens of markets across Europe and Africa. What is life if not for exploring?
So, I came to HBS as a consultant and leave as a consultant. However, it’s not the beginning or the end that’s important. The path that lies in between has changed who I am on both a personal and professional level. My classmates, professors, and friends have driven me to question myself and my goals. They’ve spun me around in circles and have left me dizzy and dazzled. Though that sounds like a pretty bad carnival ride, it’s certainly better than blindly following the herd.
That’s it for the next couple years. What comes next I don’t know. Whatever the journey, I’ll be ready with open arms (pun unavoidable and italicized for those unfamiliar with 1980s music).
– Minh Chau, MBA 2015