June 28th, 2020Nick Chua

Fireside with McKinsey Analytics Fellow Max Liu

A Quick Bio

Max's LinkedIn

Max is a San Diego native who grew up playing tennis. He was on the Varsity Men’s Team at UChicago where he studied computer science. While most of the tennis players encouraged him to study economics, he decided to pursue computer science because his business heroes (entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, hedge fund managers) all had a CS background.

Some of Max’s research at the SAND Lab included mobile computing, advanced adversarial localization, and VR security. He was also a finalist at MIT’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference where he created a sports betting app to increase fan engagement in tennis.

Joining McKinsey

The Analytics Fellow interview process is almost exactly the same as it is for consultants, except there’s an additional technical interview during the end. The first round is a behavioral interview and case study, and you can expect similar final rounds.

The behavioral interview goes over working through a disagreement with a teammate. The how/why are the most important parts of your answer. Being able to deal with these situations is essential for consultants. There are three points to hit:

  • How did you deal with it?
  • Why did you approach it a certain way?
  • How did it affect your teammate/you?

In terms of preparation, the classic case books are sufficient. You should practice with friends because talking through your answers is a skill you learn. McKinsey case interviews are known to be straightforward and measure your thinking/clarity of thought – it’s better to pause and gather your thoughts than to ramble without a point.

While networking is extremely important for careers like finance, it’s less important for consulting. Your application will be judged on the strength of your resume, which is broken down into GPA/projects/accomplishments. Worry about improving these rather than talking to as many consultants as possible.

Life as an Analytics Fellow at McKinsey

In some ways, Max’s role is similar to a general consultants in the sense that his projects will have a deck or recommendation as a final deliverable. His recommendations, however, differ from general consultants in that they’re more quantitative than qualitative. While he may deliver some model for real-time dynamic pricing, a general consultant’s deck may include more traditional strategy. Think Excel + Powerpoint versus Machine Learning + Powerpoint.

With that being said, McKinsey also gives their Analytics Fellows leeway in the type of projects they pursue because the role is still evolving. There are some Fellows who exclusively work on ML models, while some get involved in more traditional strategy work. Your review as a Fellow depends on both skills – do you have the general consulting toolkit and are you also an expert in analytics?

Covid-19 Impact?

McKinsey is one of the more resilient firms in times of uncertainty. Even during recessions like ’07-’08 they typically avoid layoffs, which allows the firm to come back stronger after the recessions end as many of their competitors have reduced capacity. So far, it seems like McKinsey hasn’t seen any impact in terms of recruiting or layoffs for Covid. In terms of work life, they are travelling less and have transitioned to a more regional model.

On Consulting and Entrepreneurship

Startups are all about solving a problem and many of them happen to be B2B problems. It’s almost impossible to understand your target customer if you haven’t experienced their pain firsthand, and being a consultant is an amazing way to understand where different types of companies struggle.

By virtue of the job you get to work with multiple companies and see how they deal with different issues. Because you live in their companies for extended periods of time, you get a sense of what is inefficient and can improve. If/when you transition into entrepreneurship after a career in consulting, you can feel confident selling to these companies because you’ve been in their shoes before.

For Max in particular, he can speak to their data analytics tools and workflows. VCs and companies care about product-team fit and doesn’t have to start from scratch trying to imagine what problems they may face.

Who’s Next

Next week, we’re chatting with Sasha Iatsenia, a Product Manager at Google. It’ll take place at 6:00PM PST on Tuesday the 30th. Comment your email on this LinkedIn post for an invite to the event!

Ready To Get Started?

Nick Chua

Nick Chua is the CEO & Co-Founder of Edith. Formerly at Inoca Capital and UChicago Tennis.

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