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Gretchen Berlin

Partner

When I was thinking about career options, I looked for two things: exposure to a wide range of experiences and great people to work with. Some of my advisors at school were former McKinsey consultants, and they told me there’s no better place for building relationships that last a lifetime.

Before I joined, I had no idea how collaborative we are, both within teams and with clients. I got to see this on my first engagement, where we spent hours each week with our client team shaping the strategy and presentation for the board.

Every client project I’ve ever worked on has been interesting for a different reason. Sometimes an organization is under a lot of pressure and there’s enormous urgency to turn it around. Another time we might be exploring a new clinical program to improve patients’ follow-up care. But often it’s the impact of our work that makes a project memorable. One of my favorite experiences was working with frontline nursing staff to strengthen their practice model. It was rewarding to see how our efforts improved not only patient care, but nurses’ morale too, and how the impact was sustained for years afterwards.

This is a place where we can create our own opportunities in the areas that excite us most. For me, that’s health care, and I’ve been fortunate to get a grounding in everything from hospital talent management to health insurance operations. When I opted to do a secondment to see hospital administration first hand, my mentors helped me get a role in an English hospital. It was a fantastic opportunity to start developing an international perspective on my chosen field.

When you join McKinsey as an associate—a junior consultant—it’s amazing how rapidly you develop. That’s partly because of our training programs, but also because we’re put in challenging situations from the start, whether it’s working with a new client or taking on leadership roles in the office. And we also have opportunities to build knowledge for the firm on topics we’re passionate about: I’ve written articles on the benefits of giving nurses more control over their working environment and optimizing the skill mix in hospitals.