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by McKinsey & Company | October 07, 2019


Colleagues from around the world explain the benefits and resources McKinsey provides that make it easier for them to be successful parents and consultants.

We often hear the misperception from candidates that they won’t be able to balance parenthood with a McKinsey career. The truth is, a huge number of our colleagues are parents – great ones– and great consultants. Some have children when they join; some become parents early in their McKinsey careers; and, others have children as partners. All of them enjoy the support and benefits we provide, and they’re leveraging these resources to have a meaningful, stimulating career AND a fulfilling family life. Read on to learn more from our colleagues around the world:

Getting ready

As you prepare for parental leave – or ready yourself to return – you’ll use our Ramp Off, Ramp On program. A central team will give you the support, guidance, and resources you need to smoothly transition from and to client work. You’ll receive plenty of advice from those who have gone before you, including Laptops and Lullabies (a version of What to Expect When You’re Expecting written by colleagues in a McKinsey context) and Being a Dad at McKinsey, a collection of inspirational stories and tactical tips from McKinsey dads. You’ll create transition plans with your clients, McKinsey leaders, and your professional development manager (aka staffer).

Given the project–orientated nature of our work, many colleagues, especially at the engagement manager and associate or business analyst levels, tell us this is one of the best places to become parents because you can take a break for parental leave without missing a beat. Our flexible culture allows for additional accommodations when needed, like when Divya had a difficult pregnancy and needed to work from home.

Time away

Colleagues frequently combine our extensive leave benefits with vacation time and flexibility programs to maximize the time they spend with their children, like Marina.

Moms aren’t the only ones who enjoy our parental leave: our generous policies also cover non–birth parents like Ryan, a partner, and father of four: “I took two weeks (followed by a period of reduced travel) for my first two children, and two months off for my third. Each time was good, and the two-month leave was particularly fantastic. I was able to invest deeply in my whole family, not just the baby, and I found it incredibly rewarding.”

Once you’re ready to return to work, you’ll again work with the Ramp Off, Ramp On team to plan your re-entry. Sometimes this includes taking a different role, like Tarra, or coming back on a part-time program, like our North America Managing Partner and 2018 Working Mother of the Year Liz.

Back to work

Once you’re back to work, you’ll find plenty of coaching and support from Local Moms Leads – designated senior leaders in each office who counsel moms and expecting moms on navigating work and parenthood. They lead regular group emails and get-togethers to discuss everything from breastfeeding to childcare to time management. Free breast milk shipping and nursing rooms also make a big difference. Our Parents of Special Children at McKinsey network helps the parents of children with special needs communicate, share ideas, and provide individual support; senior partner and co-founder Scott shares, “In leading the network I’ve seen time and again the extent to which our colleagues are willing to help one another in times of need – it’s very humbling and wonderfully inspiring.” 

What about travel? Thanks to our Mindful Travel program, all our teams now evaluate the best working model for their engagements before kicking off the team. Sometimes consultants spend only two days a week on-site. Sometimes they alternate weeks. Some parents work overtime to serve predominantly local clients; others find they enjoy a few nights away each week. Some moms have even worked out arrangements to travel with their newborns and a caregiver for a period of time, like Andrea who is now an associate partner in Houston.

Living the dream

Another valuable thing about consulting when you have a family is our flexibility. When one client engagement ends, it’s very easy to take time off for a few weeks or more. Take Time, our program that enables consultants to take up to 10 additional weeks of unpaid leave off each year, helps parents and non-parents take some extra time to do whatever they want. Even when you’re serving a client full-time, you’ll have flexibility to arrange your schedule, working with your team to meet personal commitments and manage your schedule.

Working for a global firm with more than 130 offices creates yet another degree of flexibility. For example, an engagement manager in Russia, recently transferred to the US for the summer to combine vacationing with her family with her work. Basically, there’s no standard model anymore; only customized solutions that work for you, your teams, and your clients.

Whether it’s through formal programs or creative solutions, we aim to make it work for parents, which Mark discovered when his wife needed surgery and was immobilized for more than a month: “Juggling my wife’s surgery, our two kids, and a McKinsey training program seemed impossible. However, with my team’s incredible support and creativity, I was able to be there for my family, and for an enriching professional experience.”

Additional health and wellness

While many programs aren’t specific to parents, it’s worthwhile to note McKinsey offers best–in–class healthcare, mental health support, gym membership subsidies, and other proactive wellness programs (all benefits vary by country). We recently created a dual-career initiative in the US (and published a research piece on how companies can better support dual-career couples), and it’s quickly being scaled globally. Be sure to ask your recruiter for more specific information if you choose to apply.

This post was sponsored by McKinsey, the Best Consulting Firm to Work for in the 2020 Vault Consulting 50. McKinsey also ranks No. 1 for Prestige, Diversity, Relationship with Supervisors, and No. 2 for Benefits, among others.