The brief I was given and what I did in the first 100 days at work
I joined at a time when the Indian economy was slumping due to the Asian financial crisis. We did not have many live consulting projects. As a result, I worked on a range of client development proposals, internal knowledge pieces and targeted support for ongoing client projects.
Looking back, these short cycles of learning, hypothesis-driven problem solving and exposure to a range of sectors through the first few months helped me to quickly develop skills to think through issues in a structured manner.
The worst mistake I made
Was not to ask soon enough for more details when I was unclear on the requirements of a task or a project. I carry the lesson to this day and try to seek as much information and resources as I need before starting a task at hand. I tell all members of my team to reach out and ask for help or advice when stuck on a task for more than an hour or two.
How I had fun at work
By getting involved as much as I could—I contributed as the committee member in organising events, Ganga-Panga, our annual trip to Rishikesh for rafting and other such activities. It gave me an opportunity to interact with other enthusiasts and was a welcome change from work-related engagements.
I was also the ‘campus ambassador’ for recruitment to my alma mater, IIM-Bangalore, for several years.
The best leadership lessons I learnt
Is to look at every situation and challenge as a learning opportunity. For every problem, you are trying to solve or role you are playing, think about the value you can add to the task and lessons you can derive from it and the people you are working with.
In hindsight, working on 10-12 mini-assignments instead of one longer project in my first 100 days in consulting provided greater exposure, especially to more experienced consultants and clients that accelerated the apprenticeship and the apprenticeship and learning.
My biggest innovation
I was part of the first project that McKinsey Global Institute took on in India where we worked with senior economists on overall and sector-based analysis to identify the path to 10% growth in GDP per capita for India.
My work, in particular, was to identify how retail sector productivity could be an important determinant of India’s GDP per capita and we used a unique combination of economic analysis and management frameworks to derive the findings.