FTG 0006 - Consulting Insights with McKinsey Senior Partner Basel Kayyali '96


Guest Bio:

Basel Kayyali ‘96 Eng is a Senior Partner at McKinsey and Co. where he co-leads the Payor and Provider digital practice globally. In addition, he is the Managing Partner of McKinsey’s Mid-Atlantic Digital Office based in Summit, NJ. He has worked primarily at the intersection of operations, technology, and healthcare, serving clients across the healthcare value chain on various topics, including large operations and digital transformations. He also leads several large prominent hi-tech and telecom clients across a wide range of topics. Prior to McKinsey and business school, Basel worked three and a half years as a marketing strategist and processor architect for Intel Corporation. Basel graduated from Penn State’s College of Engineering with a degree in electrical engineering with honors and earned his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania as a Palmer Scholar (top 5 percent—highest distinction). 

Episode Specifics:

In this episode, you’ll hear advice and insight from Basel on:

• Selecting Penn State and the University Scholars Program / Schreyer Honors College as an immigrant

• Finding community at University Park and finding lifelong healthy activities in college

• How to recognize when you need to make a career shift to reach your full potential

• How a STEM degree can be useful in business school and getting an MBA  

• What Scholars should consider about going into consulting, and how consultants focus on client’s potential maximization

• Advice for Scholars applying into McKinsey and other consulting firms

• The three axis structure of McKinsey and the idea of internal networking

• A discussion on travelling in consulting

•Wor k life balance in demanding industries and setting weekly goals

• The importance of mentorship, coaching, and sponsorship – especially in consulting

• Other doors that consulting opens up for former consultants  


Schreyer Honors College Links:






Upcoming Events  

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Make a Gift to Benefit Schreyer Scholars

• Join the Penn State Alumni Association 


Credits & Notes:

This content is available in text form here.

This show is hosted, produced, and edited by Sean Goheen ‘11 Lib (Schreyer). 

The artwork was created by Tom Harrington, the College’s Web Developer. 

The sound effect is “Chinese Gong,” accessed via SoundBible used under Creative Commons License. 

The theme music is “Conquest” by Geovane Bruno, accessed via Pixabay and used under Creative Commons License.

Greeting scholars and welcome to following the Gong, a podcast of the Shire Honors College at Penn State. Following the Gong takes you inside conversations with our scholar alumni to hear their story so you can gain career in life advice and expanned your professional network. You can hear the true bread of how schollar alumni have gone on to shape the world after they rind the gone and graduated with honors, and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, the constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Shawan Goheen, class of two thousand and eleven, and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back. Basil Kalie, class of one thousand nine hundred and ninety six, is a senior partner at mckinzie and company, where he co leads the payer and provider digital practice globally. In addition, he is the managing partner mckinzie's mid Atlantic digital office based in summit, New Jersey. He has worked primarily at the interception of operations, technology and healthcare, serving clients across the healthcare value chain on various topics, including large operations and digital transformations. He also leads several large, prominent high tech and telecom clients across a wide range of topics. Prior to Mackenzie and business school, Bass will work three and a half years as a marketing strategist and processor architect for Intel Corporation. Basil graduated from Penn State's College of Engineering with a degree in electrical engineering with honors and durned his MBA from the Warton school at the University of Pennsylvania as a palmer scholar. In this episode you'll hear advice and insight from Basil on selecting Penn State in the University Scholars Program and try our honors college as an immigrant, finding community university park and finding lifelong healthy activities in college, how to recognize when you need to make a career shift to reach your full potential, how a stem degree can be useful in business school and getting an MBA, what scholars should consider about going into consulting and how consultants focus on clients potential maximization, advice for scholars applying into McKenzie and other consulting firms, the three acts of structure Mckenzie and the idea of internal networking, a discussion on traveling and consulting, Work Life Balance and demanding industries and setting weekly goals, the importance of Mentorship, coaching and sponsorship, especially in consulting, and other doors that consulting opens up for former consultants. With that, let's dive into our conversation with Basil. Basil, thank you so much for joining me today on the show. I think this is going to be great for students who want to look into consulting. This is only growing as a field and I think you're going to have a lot of valuable insights. But before I give too much a way, if you can just share a little bit about who you are and your role at McKenzie. Sounds great and Sean, thank you for having me so. I am a senior partner at Mackenzie. I've been with McKenzie for nineteen years. I joined out of business school, which was a stop between Shriy or college, and and my time at Mackenzie, and I lead a couple of different things for Mackenzie. One is I serve and lead what we call some client service teams in the high tech and telecom space because I was an engineer at triers college and that's always been an area that I was quite passionate about. So I lead some clients. I also lead our digital and analytics practice globally for healthcare and the public sector, and what we find is it's actually quite helpful, as you consult with high tech companies and telecom companies, actually serve their customers on the other side, the users of the technology and transforming themselves, and so it that's that's currently what I do and you know I've obviously had many other roles in between over the course of my nineteen years at the firm. Great and we will certainly dive into those. You've been at the same firm, which is unusual, and will die through your your story there. But I want to go back to the very beginning of how did you come to not only pen state but the United States? So my my family is very, very interesting. My Mom and dad were polar opposites, but they met at the American University of Beirut. So my mom came from a very wealthy family in Jordan that, you know, had world experiences, tons of resources available to them, and my dad grew up...

...in poverty in Lebanon and they met at the one common ground, which is the best university in the Middle East, which was the American University of Beirut. At the time they called it the Harvard of the Middle East. If you will. I'd like to call it the Penn State of the Middle East, but that's what they referred to at the time and it was a melting pot for them. And you know, they met in college, they fell in love, they got married and then they went my dad's first job out of school was to open the sales and marketing offers for Bristol Myers squib in the Middle East. So he opened it up in Riadd Saudi Arabia, which was a very common place for ex pats. My mom was a teacher in in Saudi Arabia for many of the expats. She taught a, you know, Bi lingual Arabic as well as English school and they realized pretty early on that the better opportunities for their kids. I was born, my brother, my younger brother, was born and about seven years in they realized that there were going to be much better opportunities for us in the United States. They put a high, high premium on education. They put a high premium on, you know, upward mobility and professional achievement and self actualization, if you will, and so my dad asked Bristol Meyer Swift to relocate him to the United States, and so we came to the United States when I was seven and he moved the family to Houston, Texas with literally two hundred dollars in his pocket of savings. They they rented most of our furniture and the TV from sears. Back then, you would actually go to sears and it was like a rent a center. You would, you know, get a TV and you would get a monthly rate and that's what they could afford and we worked our way up from there as a family. That is incredible and I think speech a lot to your family and the opportunities here, and certainly it's no surprise that you ended up at Penn State and the University Scholars Program with that high priority on education. But if you moved to Texas from Saudi Arabia, how did you come to find pin state in an era that was essentially pre internet? Yeah, so I had actually with that was we lived in Texas for my seven to ten but we moved to six different states over the course of my childhood, all the way up through high school, and we landed in Pennsylvania, so in a suburb of Philadelphia, and I applied to several different colleges, a few of the IVY's, the Penn State University Scholars Program and other places like that. And you know, we didn't have though my dad did a lot to improve our economic standing and you know, I call it, you know, Claude his way up to middle class, if you will, which was phenomenal given his his starting point. We didn't have the means to go to a private university and he made enough to not really qualify for a lot of aid. And so I was really attracted to the university scholars program because of the affordability. But it felt like you had the best of both worlds. You had an ivy league like education in the honors program where you had small classes, much more of an intimate relationship with your professors and fellow classmates, but all the massive resources of a public university. And in the mid S, which is when I went to Penn State, the the large public universities had the best engineering programs and the best science programs because they had all the research which they had the facilities, they had the money. I think as tech has become more popular, I think the smaller universities have begun to close the gap. But it really was the best of both worlds and that it was affordable, like an Ivy League, but with the resources of a public university. And you just described the university scholars program in the S, but if I didn't know that, you could be describing us today, and I think that's a unique bond between scholars, whether you graduated in the S and s or if you just graduated last year or current scholar now. Earlier you mentioned that you were studying engineering. which particular field and engineering did you end up pursuing? Electrical and I'm assuming that was a pretty intense bit of study for you, as is all of our engineering majors here at Penn State, especially if you're a scholar. How did you find ways to relax and take a break from studying so that you could then recharge and focus on your studies? The great question. So you know, I would say it was a learned skill I was not the life of the party my freshman or at Penn State. I think that would be fair to say.

I put a lot of pressure on mysels to you know, the believe it or not, at the time I thought getting a three five was going to be hard and you know, the scholarship, I think, was linked to achieving a certain GPA and it took a semester or to getting that on their my belt and really making it feel like I belonged, you know, academically, before I really let my hair down. So I would say my freshman year I probably was a little too book smart and not that socially adapt at exploring the full university, though I did allow myself season tickets to the football team and really got the Penn State football bug that freshman year. I think as I got more comfortable with how to pace yourself, how to manage your time, how to juggle all the various demands, I think my hobbies got better. So I played a lot of sports in high school and so I was not good enough to play at Penn states level, but I did start participating more in the intramural sports. I did intramural tennis, in intramural soccer, which were two sports that I played in high school, both Jav and Varsity. I got I had the privilege of going to school with a lot of my close friends from high school. Also went to Penn State, not not in the university scholars program but came to pend state and many of them transferred in. They started a branch campuses and they transferred in their sophomore year, and so we hung out, a lot, you know, in away games. We were watch the Games. We would go out. As we got older, you know, we we would check out the bar scene. I I'm a huge fan of eating out and though we didn't have a ton of means at the time, you know I would. I would diligently save and we would go out for one or two nice meals a week, that's sorry, week a month, and really have a decent meal. But more than anything else it was just hanging out with new friends and old friends and, you know, decompressing over, you know, a beer or over a game or you know whatever. I think that's good for scholars to hear that. You know, you're very successful. You're a senior partner at McKenzie and you weren't always studying. You found a chance to take a break and I think current scholars should definitely focus on, you know, finding those healthy ways to distress. And before I asked you about your thesis, I just have to ask quickly. Do you still I imagine you're probably not playing soccer anymore, but do you still get a chance to play tennis as a as a stress relief in your professional life? Not as much as I would like to, but I do. I do. We have it's a three of the four of us in our immediate family. My wife and my daughter play tennis a lot. I play with them from time to time. My son didn't really pick it up. I have a thirteen year old son and almost fifteen year old daughter, but I do play with my wife and daughter from time to time. It's just hard with, you know, all the sports, the organized sports for them on the weekends and and the chaperoning and carpooling that you need to do, as well as, you know, just the demands of the job. I would like to do more of it, but I've I know enough and play enough to as time becomes more free, it will certainly be a hobby that my wife and I will share for many more years. To come. I think that's great and for you listening, you know here a pen state this is your opportunity to find some of those lifelong hobbies that you can start cultivating now and build into your life going forward. And you know, if that's tennis, watching Penn State football or our other thirty some varsity teens that we have here on TV, you know this is the time to find those passions. But of course you, dazzle, had to write your thesis and I'd be curious to know if you remember what you wrote about. I wrote a boy. I think I had a part of the survey. Had shared with you the title, which I had to actually google to look up because you know I, like maybe some people on your show, it has been twenty five years since I graduate. So I won't try to butcher the name of my thesis, but I will tell you the basic thesis of the thesis, if you will, which is, you know, I worked with Dr Felbrick, who as a professor in the engineering school, and the notion was that you could use much like a bat uses waves and the and the length of time it takes for a wave to the gate and come back to estimate the distance of an object, that you could use similar lasers and waves to estimate the distance from the earth to the stars, various stars, and so my thesis was about using a device was it was a funded piece of research that Dr Phil Brick was doing and we built this...

I think it was called the interferometer or something like that. That was a device that literally worked that way and you would shoot these lasers up in the sky and based on the time it took for it to come back, you would know roughly how far away the star was that you were pointing out. And now you said you're working with telecom as part of your work in McKenzie. So it feels like it came full circle. You mentioned earlier that you went to as you called a be school, so you pursued an MBA. Walk us through how you decided as an engineering student that you wanted to pursue an MBA and how you picked the school that you know, the schools you applied to and ultimately selected. So I am my first job out of Penn State. I graduated in one thousand nine hundred and ninety six and it was thecom boom, late s and I got bit by thecom boom. So I moved out to the West Coast. I joined UNTEL right out of school and I joined them as a rotational engineer. So the first three years, sorry, the first year at Intel, I did three rotations. I did a rotation in processor architecture where I helped architect the pennium three processor. I did a rotation in software development where we taught developers, I partnered with Microsoft on how to write and create compilers that use the instruction set of the pennium three processor to its full potential to enable thred graphics and and Gaming. And then I did a third rotation in marketing, which is, you know, the the decision of one what to name the pennium three processor, and it may seem funny, but it was pennium two at the time and the decision to go from two to three was actually a very important decision because it moved the entire market. As soon as you launched the pennium three, you stalled out sales of pennium too. So the manufacturability of the product was actually quite important in determining when you would actually change the brand, because people really cared in the in the late s about their processor. Seems really foreign today, but it was a big deal. And so I saw the full life cycle of a product launch, you know, the development, the enablement of software developers to the launch, and I quickly came to the conclusion that I did not like engineering as a as a job. I enjoyed studying it, I love the problems bolving, but you know, in particular the first two rotations it was it was solitary work. You really had an assignment. You went and tackled the assignment you had. Yes, you had interactions with your teammates, you know on the penny and three architecture team when I was doing that rotation, with the customers and Microsoft when you were teaching them, but ninety percent of your job was in a cube, working by yourself, and I'm an extrovert, so that was not a good match, not a good match at all. And so I actually had a really hard time getting up to go to work in the morning. I never experienced a very driven first generation immigrant had trouble getting up to go to work. I was miserable. Anytime I asked my managers at Intel on the engineering site questions, they would look at me and say, why are you bothering me. You See, I'm doing something important and I would say, but your job is to manage me. Are you supposed to give me direction? And so it was just a really bad fit. And so, you know, I learned a pretty valuable lesson in the first year. I didn't tell, which is what I didn't like, and often times that's more important than what you like. And I also learned the important lesson of doesn't matter how good you are, if you don't like your job, you'll never self actualize to your full potential. And so I switched to the business side. So I joined that third rotation full time. I joined the brand management team. Had A chance to work with Dennis Carter, who was the head of marketing at the time. He was the gentleman who invented Intel inside as a marketing campaign and he had an MBA from Harvard. The entire team had MBA's from Harvard, from Wharton, from Kellogg, and I quickly realized, you know, about two years and to the job, that I would be limited in how far I could rise without an MBA. And I also was struck by, you know, for Mbas in particular, I think the brand matters a lot what what? What school you go to matters a lot. So I I applied to for schools coming out of out of Intel. It was wharton, Harvard, Stanford and Kellock, and I made the decision, based on which ones I got into, to go to wharton. My Pennsylvania roots were real. I was always a big fan of it and so I went and got my MBA. Warden, you...

...know, obviously I'm going to put in a plug here for this meal college of business, but it is hard to argue with somebody who has both pin state and pin on their resume. So certainly a great choice. Well respected business school at pain in the Wharton School. So you go, you get your MBA. And before I wanted to ask about McKenzie, but actually want to stop and asked quickly. How did your stem background from the College of Engineering here at Penn State help you in the NBA program at pain? It's a great question. So, and this has been a battle I've been having at Mackinsey and successfully witting, slowly but surely, which is hence they honestly with a much more difficult program than Wharton was, quite frankly, and I think the rigor, you know, the the animal, especially on the analytical aspects of engineering and the problem solving and and you know, as you know, many of the classes in engineering you're either right or wrong. There's no gray areas. Right. You get a problem, you have to solve it. There's a right way this alve the problem and a right answer and everything else knocked out. And you know, business school and business in general is more nuanced. It's less obvious. But you know, at a place like Wharton, the classes that get a lot of the students in trouble are the more analytical ones, finance strategy, you know, where you have to really assess different scenarios and and pick from imperfect options which way you want to take the company in a in a case, and and the comfort with numbers and analytics that you learned in engineering made that stuff seem really easy, and so I think that aspect of it was, you know, fantastic and preparing me for full warden and getting my MBA. If you are a stem major, listening to this and and MBA and other other options later are there for you, so don't feel like you are limited just because you have an engineering degree, but it actually opens up in the same way humanities. Degrees open up a lot of doors. So something to consider if you're thinking about, you know, leadership and management in the engineering space. But going back to mckinzie, you know you're coming out of business school, one of the top most respected business schools in the country. Tell me about the recruitment process and what you did to prepare and ultimately get hired into a presuming an entry level roll at at a top consulting firm. Yeah, so I was pretty certain early on in my MBA career that I wanted to join a consulting firm and and the and the reason was quite simple. The the rotations that I had done it Intel were instrumental in shaping my career and I thought the same way, which is, you know, I'm better off before I join a corporation and Finance or corporation in the strategy group, it is better to go to a consulting firm where you could do almost like MBA finishing school. You can apply everything you just learned in the last two years through rotations and these, you know, traditionally three to six months studies and really learned to apply what you learned in the classroom. But, more importantly, figure out what it is that you really want to do. So I was pretty stead set on joining consulting. I also was pretty sure I was going to only do it for three years, which will come, I'm sure come to at some point during this podcast about why I stayed nineteen years. But I was only going to do it for three years. And so you know, I went through the process. Ninety percent of the places I interviewed with for the summer job were in the consulting field. I interviewed with, you know, Mackenzie, BCG Baine and two thousand and one was a particularly tough time which was going to be my summer. I started my MBA in two thousand. My summer was in two thousand and one, which is thecom boom that I had enjoyed, had just crashed and burst. And so you know, consulting was not unscathed by all of that. And so the number of role a positions for the summer class where we're down versus previous years. But I was very lucky to get an offer for Mackenzie. McKenzie was my top choice and and do it, and I did it and the West Coast. So I actually joined their La Office for the summer of a one and did my summer with Mackenzie. The reason I chose Mackenzie was quite simple. Simple. It was the you know, one of the best names. So so the the level of clients that they were serving where usually the CEO and the top team in their clients and they were the largest of the big name consulting firms. So for somebody...

...who wanted to rotate through different industries and different functions, joining a larger firm would create more options without that was my thought process, if I was to be quite analytical about it, and I enjoyed the people and so I did my summer and no one and I enjoyed it. I actually did, of all things, a nonprofit study. We were helping a performing arts center figure out how to bridge the gap between the money they needed to create a new two hundred million dollar center versus what they had already raised and try to figure out the the steps they should take the bridge to gap because, as you can imagine, during an economic recession gift giving gets pulled back quite a bit. And so it was a fun study and, you know, I got an offer to return full time and, you know, chose to return full time pretty early on use the word serve when you talked about your clients, and I think that says a lot. Now, I'm not a consultant, but what I think in general speak, I think it's safe to say your role in consulting is you were helping businesses, nonprofits and other entities really, in Che's word, use earlier self, actualize. Right, you were helping them achieve what they are hoping to. Is that a fair assessment of your career path? For any students who are listening who earn't it's familiar with the field, that's right. That's a right way of saying it. We call it reaching their full potential and a lot of the work I do, especially with the clients we serve more programmatically in at scale, is really help them reach their full potential and and serve as a it's a a very interesting, it's very purposeful term, but it's due. It's a double Dul Edge, double edged sword. In the following way, which is one of the big things you're taught at McKinsey and many of these consulting firms, is pretty early on in your career to treat senior executives as pierce intellectually and as leaders, and that's hard when you're fifteen, twenty years younger than the people you are talking so serve, you have to be careful. It's not it's not that you're at their full the direction right. You're not taking orders from them and just executing it. But you know the the the term serve is important because it communicates the privilege that comes with the trust that a client puts in you to help them realize their full potential. There is there is a certain humility that a client needs to have to ask for help for a consultant right for a consultant to read Sir full potential and there's a responsibility that comes with that and not letting them down and really helping them and and the the focus on impact and helping them achieve their full potential in order to, you know, deliver on the trust that they've put in you. That's great. And you talked about things that you learn early, not just the Mackenzie but, you know, other consulting firms, and I'd be curious to take a step back. What could a schreier scholar who's interested in this line of work be doing now in Undergrad to prepare themselves for either applying to these entry level jobs or perhaps they go and get an Mba and then apply for them. What can they be doing to set themselves up for successful interview and hiring process? There's three things academics, leadership and practice. You basically just describe the Honors College. So that's already a good start. It's a great start. It's a great start. So on academics and you look where it's a privilege. You know, Mackenzie and these consulting firms are in a privileged local position. We receive, you know, nine hundredzero applications for Ninezero positions a year. So it's one percent, roughly, of the people who apply get a get an offer. And so you know, academics is a pretty easy way to get knocked out right. There is a certain level of acade demic proficiency and performance, that is that is required to even get an interview. So so tryers are going to have a huge head start. Most of them are going to have good grades. They're going to need to maintain good grades in order to keep their scholarships, or at least they did when I was there. So I think that's on academics on leadership. You know, consulting is very weird right. I lead practices, I've led offices, you know, I've led a lot of things, but the there is no or chart, nobody reports to you at Mackenzie. Even even our managing director is a senior partner that was elected by his peers, other senior partners, but he serves on their...

...behalf. And there's another serves I use in the you have to be careful what you mean by that. He has the lead, but he can't tell us what to do. And so the other big thing is we want to see leadership because you have to be self propelled. You have to know what you want to do. You have to have some direction in order to really succeed. I mean people will help you achieve what you want to achieve, but you need to have some sense of what it is that you want to get out of the place in order to maximize the full potential of what the place can be for you. So I think showing leadership showing that you're capable of taking an initiative to shape something and that you're capable of mobilizing others, many of whom don't report to you. Similarly, like if it's a club or a a another group. Through influence, through purpose, through inspiration. That's a lot of if you think about how we get our clients to change their behaviors, it's through influence. You can't can't tell a client what to do. They don't work for you, and so you have to influence them. And so it leadership is really, really important and leading fears and setting direction and galvanizing and influencing is why leaderships important. And then the third. The third one was practice. You know, there there is a quite a bit of an an art to how McKenzie interviews, which is we do these case studies and they're they're basically business problems, usually based on real work that we've done, and what we really try to get under is how people structure problems, how they creatively think of solutions against that problem and that structure of problems and how they can crunch number how comfortable they are with analytics and numbers and stuff like that. And it is a little odd at first, and so there it takes a little practice. You don't want to overpractice, but you want to at least be aware going into the interview what what is coming at you and those are the three pieces of advice iight has. So you mentioned these practices and you don't have an org chart. So maybe in a distinct way, tell us you know how you started, worked your way up, if you will, if that even is an applicable term in this case. You know the how you're structured and you know going from being an entry level to leading and being a senior partner. How does all of that work in to where you've gotten today? Great Question. So, so Mackenzie is really organized around three axis. You have industry sector, you have function, business function and you have geography. So those are the three axes. Industry sector would be, you know, TMT, which is high tech, media and telecom, or could be healthcare, could be pharmacuticals, it could be you know, advanced industries like defence contract contractors and stuff like that. So that's sector. Functions are things like sales and marketing, digital an analytics operations. And then geography is, you know, are you in the America's Europe Asia and within those, what country or state are you in? And typically what happens is when you start at the firm, you joined an office and you don't yet have a sector or functional affiliation. So your geograph fee is your dominant axis. you start with a class. That class I started in New Jersey full time. So I transferred my summer offer from California to New Jersey because I met my wife to be and she was working for fiser at the time and didn't want to move across the country. So, you know, I filiated myself with the New Jersey office my class of twelve other people who started, you know, out of different business schools and advanced degrees. And over time what happens is you work with people, you do these studies and these studies all have sector and functional affiliation. So I did Financial Services Studies, I did pharmacutical studies, I did consumer product studies, I did Telco Studies, I did High Tech Studies, I did everything because again, that was my objective. My first three years, every industry you could think of. I did M A, I did sales and marketing, commercial growth, I did due diligences on M A, I did operations works, I did everything on the functional axis. And what you end up doing is you you coming out of those experiences your first two or three years, you begin to build an affinity towards either a sector, function or both, and it's typically a set of partners that you've worked with, that you really enjoy working...

...with, that you want to work more with, that are also affiliated with those sectors and functions. And so you know, my journey was no different. Right. I did the random walk very purposely. Wasn't that random? My first two three years I really affiliated myself with the New Jersey office in the mid Atlantic. Overall, those three years really confirmed for me my passion and TMT, so technology, media and telecom. So I over time, as I became an em which is typically a role that you do where you're kind of the project leader, about two years in at the firm I started doing a lot of TMT studies, but again I flexed on the functional access and then I got to know many of the leaders in TMT, many of the partners and senior partners within TMT through those studies during my two project management years. So it sounds like it's a combination. Correct me if I'm wrong here. Of you need the tactical skills, which obviously your thesis and research experience from both Penn State and pain I'm sure, helped with. There's also a heavy relational piece in this field. Is that correct? Absolutely, there's a lot of there's a lot of network building within the firm, within Mackenzie. That's, you know, important, especially as you're starting out and finding your next study, finding your band of brothers and sisters that you want to work with, you know that you enjoy working with and that you know it's meet. To me, one of the biggest eye openers and probably things that I did not expect, which is, you know, the industry in the function, the topic of the study was important, but not as important as the people you are working with, and you know there are certain people that you just gelled with, you really enjoyed working with. You know the fact that the job was demanding and you work longer hours and feel like longer hours because you really enjoyed the company and you had a common purpose and sense of what you were trying to accomplish. And I think I had underestimated that in my when I joined and I it's something I really learned over the course of my first two three years and came to appreciate. And I think that's true regardless of what industry you go into. If you're working a fulltime job, which is debatable and how many hours you might define that in in the twenty one century. But you're around your colleagues sometimes more than your own family. So it is really important to enjoy the people you are working with. So, regardless of whether you are going into consulting or some other industry, that is really valuable advice to take that from what bassled just shared, pivoting a little bit within the consulting space. Still, consulting is notoriously a travel intensive career, especially at the entry level points. Well, at least pre covid right. Obviously we shifted to a very zoom centric world starting a March two Thousan twenty. But how do you think the pandemic has affected that side of Your Business in the short term, and what do you project the long term impact of the virtual versus the in person elements, because it is such a relational industry? That's great question and you know the travel is one of the demanding aspects of the job. But I'll come back to even pre pandemic, there are ways to manage that. I think it's you know, it's all and what you're optimizing for a different stages of your career. So there's no question that the last eighteen months has taught us a lot about how to use video conferencing to still raise the ambition of our clients, help them achieve their full potential and help them transform. And you know, if you would ask me eighteen months ago, at the beginning of the pandemic, could we deliver the kind of impacts at the scale we have over the course of the last eighteen months, I would have told you you were crazy. And so you know, as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of all inventions. The pandemic really, I think, was the mother of the invention around what we used to call mindful travel, which is I think we all fall into a Rut and assumption around how you have to operate, and Mackenzie has tried for years, through mindful travel, to say you don't have to be at the sciant site four days a week out of five. You don't, and I think the last eighteen months is really taught us that. So I think what will end up happening is we will never travel the same. I think we will travel less coming out of this pandemic, even after it's behind us, then we did before, because I think we've gotten much smarter about when when travel really makes a difference and when it doesn't. I think that said,...

...there will be important as you said, there is an element of all of this that's relationship. I introduced to clients over the course of the pandemic who I never met in person. They're all the whole team only seen them on video. And when things start to open up in this summer, beginning part of the summers pre delta, everybody was vaccinated. Those are the first trips I made and there is something to be said about a client dinner to really understand what makes client tick, what are their own personal aspirations, both professionally but how they're juggling that versus family life, and those kind of connections, I think, will always be critical to what we do and there will be no substitute for having dinner with the client. Pre pandemic I used to travel for an hour long meeting. I do a day trip, so I would fly out, get up early, fly out, go do an hour long meeting, usually with a new client you're trying to introduce, and then fly home. I don't think I'm going to ever do that again. I think that kind of travel is gone. I think the costs of that, the friction costs of the trip to the airport going through TSA, is not worth it. I think we've learned in the last eighteen months how to do that meeting effectively over video. Yeah, absolutely, I can imagine that. Both the cost savings for both Mackenzie and your clients is great, the environmental impact of traveling less is probably great, and the fact that there was presumably how many other hours in the day can you now focus on your client or other clients instead of going through TSA and sitting in the airport trying to connect to Wi fi and all these things. But you mentioned a moment ago kind of the balance of everything and you did travel a lot and you mentioned that you have teenage children. How do you strive for work life balance, to use a very popular phrase these days, in a very demanding career boundaries? So I had a you know, my first four years at Mackenzie were pretty easy. It was just Andrea and me and Andrew had a full time job. She played tennis at night, you know. So so you know, we the opportunity costs of traveling was not that high and then we had my daughter Madeleine and then my son Alexander, and then the opportunity cost of traveling got got a lot higher. And you know, I managed it the way you would manage anything else. So I sat down with my assistant at the time and I said, look, I have I have three goals for every week and we need to manage my calendar to those three goals. I want to work out at least four times a week. I want to put my kids to bed more times than I don't, which means for more nights. And when I say put them to bed, I mean bade them, get them dressed, read to them, putting like an hour and a half, two hours of you know, time with them. And then I want to be home to do Sushi dinner with them at thirty. My Kids Love Sushi. They loved it when they were foreign to like they they would go to the Sushi restaurant and so and the reason I did that thirty on Friday is because then Friday night becomes like a weekend night. Thirty is early enough. It forces you to shut down well in advance of that and really makes Friday night a real night. And then, as part of that, I don't do work as best I can over the weekend and and it really I don't do a lot of work on the weekends. And those were my three and you know every you know, everybody can have different threes depending on what stage they were in their life. But you know, it's amazing through thick and thin, ups and downs, fifty out of the fifty two weeks I'd be able to achieve those three things. And so, you know, you just need to have them as clear goals. And that's what I tell everybody, which is, you know, have three goals that you want to be able to do every week and it can be. You know, the one I wish I had earlier in my career is, you know, with kids, you know, you realize the date nights between Andrey and I are harder to come by now right because it's a lot of family time. In the early parts of my Mackenzie career I would have probably pushed to have made it home to have more dinners with her out on a random chuesday or Wednesday night. With the benefit of hindsight, could easily done that if I had just more explicitly set it as a boal goal. Setting, I think is very important. I like that you broke it down like these are the specific things I want to do this week, and so, if you're listening to this, see how that translates. You know, sit down, take a couple of minutes and, you know, read, listen to that past chunk of this episode to hear Basil's inside on that and figure out what are your three things...

...that you want to do every week, and I'm going to try and do that myself. But it's also, you know, goal setting is important, but also, especially in the early stages of your career and really throughout, is networking and mentorship. So how have you both benefited from these and how do you go about it? And also, now that you're a senior partner, how do you also mentor and what recommendations do you have of for scholars as they begin these processes? It's a great question. So there's no question that a career in consulting is more demanding than a nine to five job. It's not a nine to five dob, by the way. It's not a it's not a ridiculous hours either kind of job. But you know, obviously made it work in nineteen months, happily married to great kids who still like their dad and you know, would probably say I haven't missed much of their their lives. I think the the tradeoff is the mentorship. It's a great question. It's because, you know, the end of the day, the reason you sacrifice, there's still are sacrifices that come with his career, is the the it is an apprenticeship profession and the mentorships that you get and the coaching you get is unrivaled. I really do believe that for young colleagues who are starting out, because you're put in tough situations early in your career. And so when I was a brand new associate right, I presented to a CEO of a fortune five hundred company with just a senior partner who is in the room with me, like a year out of business school. You know, I would present to the boards of these companies in the top team, I would be twenty years younger than anybody else in the room. I mean that's the that's the the power of the tradeoff right and the development that comes with it. But what you need is good mentors and sponsors to do that. So a mentor is somebody and there's difference between the two, and mentor is somebody who's going to coach you before that meeting, rehearse the presentation with you before that meeting, really teach you to lead with the answer, pause, let the CEO take you where they want to go, as opposed to doing it much more in a bottom up way. And the mentor is going to help you rehearse for that, make sure you don't fail in that situation and really coach you through something like that. That's going to be very one on one. A sponsor is a person who will create those opportunities for you. So somebody who wakes up in the morning worried about you, worried about your development, worried about are you in the right opportunities to grow, worried if you're busy in the early days of your career, and everybody too it's to succeed, needs to have both mentors and sponsors, but you need to be clear which of the to each individual you're working with is and have an explicit dialog around it with them. And I think the biggest thing I learned is it's a two way street. I think if I look at people at Mackenzie who are under mentored or unenter under sponsored, they usually aren't comfortable initiating. Oh It's a senior partner, I can't get time on their calendar. You know, they're busy. They're too busy for me. And I think the biggest advice I give the folks listening to this podcast is it is a two way street. You need to nurture these things and sometimes this goes back to the leadership you asked about. How do you prepare? It's taking the initiative to put yourself out there, to ask for help, to engage on where you want to go on your career. Oftentimes that's the catalyst to build and cultivate those those mentors and those sponsors. In a word you used earlier in this conversation was humility, you know, and I think that is key. Be Humble enough to ask for help and you'll be surprised the doors that open to you. So I've one last trying to deep consulting question. You've been at mckinzie for, you said, nineteen years as of the time of recording. I'm sure you've had a lot of colleagues that you've enjoyed and they've gone on to other job opportunities. Can you just give us a brief glimpse into the kind of doors that consulting can open for you if you want to move on to other opportunities. So they're all over and and they're wide ranging. I mean, I think that's the beaty of Mackenzie. As you know, everybody is a sample of one. So one of my close friends and business school and the other person who got a summer offer McKenzie on the West Coast. So is myself, and one other person was this friend is soon Darpachai. Sundar Pachai is the CEO of Google. So you know there are, you know people who you know go join industry and I think Mackenzie really...

...is a talent factory. If you look at I don't know the statistics off my top of my head, but if you if you normalize for the size of Mackenzie, it's probably the number one training ground of CEOS and Business Unit Presidents and fortune five hundred then. So you have a lot of people who go the Sundar Path. They go join and industry and they they grow a rise to become the CEO or be you president, another person I worked with on studies in my early days in New Jersey was a was. It was another associate named boss. Boss has become the CEO of Novartis. So literally in the team room with them. I worked. I worked on for nine months with Chelsea Clinton, you know, on a study when she was at Mackenzie. So so you have those that go into industry and they rise up to see there's a second path, which is or senior levels. There's a second path which a lot of people they get really excited about, the the private equity venture capital side of what we do. So a lot of the work we do, you know, at least in certain practices, is diligences of assets that are private equity firm may want to buy, helping laughter they buy turn around the asset, to help the asset reach its full potential so that they can exit it and and make more money. So you see, you know, another swath of people that go into private equity, venture capital and the investment community, both in dilige's, diligencing assets to buy, but then turning around the asset or helping the asset achieve the full potential and therefore an exit. And then there's a third where people go and start stuff. They go start their own businesses. So you know we have. There is a person I've gotten to know very well through McKenzie. His name is a meet a meat started the Trevor Project and the Trevor Project is around people who, you know, difficulty of coming out and he went and founded the Trevor Project and it's so it's so you know, it's amazing because, you know, I have business school colleagues of mine that didn't go to Mackenzie whose kids have come out and they've created they've celebrated them, because it is still a very courageous thing to do, and they've had fundraisers for the Trevor Project as part of this. And so, you know, I look at it and it's just seven degrees of separation. It's just so interesting. And so you have a lot of people who start new businesses, either for profit or in the non not for profit space, and they really exercise their entrepreneurship. And so those be kind of three paths that I see. You know, most often we're kind of at the tail end of our conversation here. I want to be respectful of your time, Basil, as well as those listening. So just rapid fire three questions to wrap up with. First, is there any pieces of advice that you wanted to share that just didn't come up earlier in our conversation? Yeah, I think the they came up, but I would underscore them and in synthesis or summary. One is, if I reflect on my career, tick something you're passionate about for your career. No amounts of intrinsics can make up for a job you're not excited about. Two would be knowing what you don't want to do through experimentation is almost as valuable as knowing what you do want to do, and so I really encourage our our scholars to try different things, and it's okay if your summary Internship then amount to what you had hoped for. That's still important information as you cast on your journey. And then the third is balance. I honestly believe you can make any career work well, but you have to have the courage to establish boundaries, the courage to live by those boundaries and the courage to accept the consequences. If the career path doesn't work out with those boundaries, then it's not the right career for you and you should feel good about moving on at that point. Great summary Basil. If a scholar wants to connect with you and dive a little bit deeper one on one and seek you out as a mentor how can they connect with you? I think you know, through linked N is fine. I think you know obviously through you, Shan, if you're okay with it. I think you have my mom, the the alumni board, and so always reachable through that way. Perfect, and that's something we didn't even have time to talk about, is that, in addition to all of your work and family, you also volunteer at the college and we appreciate you coming on today as one of our alumni board members. But I'd be remiss if I didn't wrap up with our traditional close out question here on the show. If you were a flavor of Burkie creamery ice cream, which would you be? And as a scholar, most importantly, why that flavor? Oh, it's interesting, so I would have said I was. I...

...thought you were going to ask me a different question. I probably will keep my answer the same, which is, you know, I would still be peachea per turnout, because they still have peach PA Turno, by the way. I think they do. Sure do, yes, and the reason is because of the memories, because I think you know, like I said, I was a season ticket holder for five years at Penn stay. I did stay on an extra semester for one more football season to get a minor in economics, but that was just an excuse. And you know, we would get peace Praturno all the time, and so you know I still take my son. My son still loves to go to the Games and I take them to the creamery every time and I usually get my peach Paturno. So it's I guess my answer is one of maybe the balance side of my last piece of advice, which is it just brings back great memories of things beyond professional and academics, but you know, other aspects of your life, connections with friends and family. That is a great reason and a great way to wrap up. Basil, thank you so much for joining me and in providing all this great insight into not just consulting but any industry that our scholars will go into. Thank you very much, sewan. Thanks for the opportunity. Thank you, scholars, for listening and learning with us today. We hope you will take something with you that will contribute to how you shape the world. This show probably supports the Shuire Honors College Emergency Fund Benefiting Scholars experiencing unexpected financial hardship. You can make a difference at rays DOT PSU DOT Edu. Forward Slash Shreire. Please be sure to hit the relevance, subscribe, like or follow button on whichever platform you are engaging with us on today. You can follow the college on Facebook, twitter, instagram and Linkedin to say up to date on news, events and deadlines. If you have questions about the show or a scholar alum who'd like to join us as a guest here on following the gone, please connect with me at scholar alumni at PSU DOT ETU. Until next time, please stay well and we are.

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