"At McKinsey & Co you can create a home within the firm"

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So, you want to work for McKinsey & Co.? You're not the only one. The management consulting firm ranked top among professional services firms globally in our 2016 Ideal Employer Rankings, and came top in every jurisdiction - except the U.S., where it ranked second behind Deloitte.

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What makes McKinsey such a desirable employer? As we noted in our professional services analysis, it might have something to do with pay. - Among those who want to work there, McKinsey is highly rated for its compensation, even though a recent study by UK pay bench-marking firm Emolument suggested that it pays less than rivals like Bain & Co and Boston Consulting Group.  McKinsey also ranked highly for travel, promotional opportunities, interesting work and industry leadership.

We asked Kristel Adler, an engagement manager at McKinsey's Atlanta office and ex-associate on Citi's trading floor with an MBA from MIT and a bachelors degree from Princeton, whether these perceptions are true. In terms of travel, at least, the answer seems to be yes.

"I've been staffed in San Francisco for the last few months on a good project with a great team," says Adler. The flight from Atlanta to San Francisco is five hours, but Adler says this isn't an issue: "The flight may be long, but San Francisco is never a bad place to land."

You don't have to travel at McKinsey though. In an interview last year, Brian Rolfes, a McKinsey partner and global head of recruiting, said the "default location" for McKinsey consultants is their home office. Each consultant is assigned a "professional development manager" who helps thresh out what's important to them. - If working close to home is a priority, the firm will try and arrange this: "Our scale makes it so we can staff people according to what fits them best, helps them grow and aligns with their priorities,” said Rolfes.

Adler says McKinsey has several different programs to help "mitigate the pressures of work." Some of them, like "Take Time", allow consultants to take an extra five to 10 weeks off each year. Consultants have used the initiative to learn Chinese, practice music, go travelling and gain a commercial pilot's licence.

Adler's McKinsey is a genial and collegial place to be. "It really is ok to randomly email that expert partner in Germany for a 15 minute conversation about a topic your new team is about to start working on," she says. "Never underestimate the utility of quickly jotting ideas down on a piece of paper and sharing them with a teammate. You'd be amazed at how quickly you'll be able to figure out a way forward together."

While some consultants use an MBA to move into banking, Adler went the other way - joining McKinsey from the banking sector after finishing her MBA at MIT.  Consulting appealed because of, "The opportunity to see a variety of industries, roles, and functions," says Adler. McKinsey & Co contains a lot of, "talented and motivated people," she adds - although, "each office really does have its own personality and version of the McKinsey culture."

More than anything else, Adler says McKinsey offers an unusual breadth of experience: "There are almost certainly folks at McKinsey who do work in the areas that interest you. They can help you create a home within the firm."

View the complete 2016 Ideal Employer Rankings

"McKinsey & Company in Shanghai_3415" by Philip McMaster is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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