I was a consultant at McKinsey. Here’s the frustrating way they pushed me out.

I was a consultant at McKinsey. Here’s the frustrating way they pushed me out.
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Ezra Gershanok, Ohana founder, ex-McKinsey analyst
Ezra Gershanok is a former Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company.

  • Ezra Gershanok was a business analyst at McKinsey & Company
  • He said he was forced out as the firm grappled with declining client demand and too many hires.
  • Post-McKinsey, Gershanok co-founded Ohana, a sublet startup backed by Zillow and Airbnb’s execs.

This is an as-told-to conversation with Ezra Gershanok, a former Business Analyst at McKinsey & Company and the cofounder of sublet startup Ohana.

Long story short, I don’t regret my time at McKinsey & Company.

I was hired straight out of college as a Business Analyst, an entry-level consultant role at the firm. I’m glad I had the opportunity, and I appreciated the firm’s high expectations and learned a lot from my colleagues.

However, several aspects of my job frustrated me.

There was an expectation that everything needed to be done immediately. I felt a constant sense of urgency even though we weren’t building anything. My work output was always a PowerPoint deck, and its biggest impact was making whoever paid for us to be there look good.

In such an environment, you quickly realize that everything is political. Your ability to get on good projects, and even your performance goals, boil down to how well-liked you are by colleagues. Everyone at the firm can do the work so well that the higher-ups ultimately build teams of people they like working with.

The firm had clearly over-hired

My biggest issue was that McKinsey over-predicted how much work I would have.

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I started at the firm in June 2021 as one among a class of pandemic hires. I left in March 2023.

During that time, McKinsey secured many government and private sector contracts and hired extensively, assuming there would be a steady workflow. Then, interest rates started rising, companies started tightening their budgets, and several realized they could automate much of their work. So, client demand began to dry up.

For me, the pace of the work started to slow down in the second half of 2021 and into 2022. Several jobs at the firm started to be seen as redundant. The pressure to cut down the workforce was palpable.

McKinsey doesn’t normally conduct layoffs. Instead they push employees out by marking them down on performance. But the communication channels aren’t clear when you’re an entry-level employee. So, it’s possible to get positive feedback from the clients you’re working with and your direct manager, even when the higher-ups are trying to push you out.

And that’s not a pleasant experience.

It would have been easier if they just laid me off

I remember getting a call in mid-February 2023. Things had gone pretty well on the project I was working on that week, which was on semiconductors, an pretty competitive to get staffed on. On Saturday, I got a call out of the blue from an Associate Partner who told me I was no longer on the project, even though I was supposed to go to Seattle that Monday to continue work. I received another call on Sunday and was told to talk to my Senior Partner because there was some hope I could get back on the project. But he flat-out said there was no way I was getting back on the project.

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I had a meeting put on my calendar a week later and was told that senior managers would be present at the meeting to decide my fate at the firm. In the days leading up to the meeting, I kept receiving warnings that it wouldn’t go well and that I was better off just quitting. I told them that I refused to quit before going through with the meeting.

At the meeting, they complained about my performance, even though it was clear that the real reason they wanted me out was because the firm had over-hired. It would have been easier if they said, “We’re letting you go” or “We’re firing you.” Instead, they told me that the senior partners had met and decided that my next step was “search.” I’d be paid for six weeks and given a guidance counselor who would help me look for another role.

I could have fought it, but I was pretty frustrated with my work by then. My biggest gripe is that McKinsey preys on people who are status-insecure. Everyone the firm hires is an overachiever. We want to do well, and what people care more about than money, honestly, is the gratification of our bosses.

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Life after McKinsey

By then I was already thinking about solving this other problem I had experienced as an intern — the struggle of subletting. So my good friend, who was working at Apple at the time, quit his job, and we both bit the ground running, building a new startup called Ohana.

Ohana fills the gap between short-term rental platforms like Airbnb and long-term housing sites like Zillow. We provide an efficient way to sublease in NYC. We’ve found that the average host on Ohana saves $5,969 per sublease, and in the last month, Ohana has saved New Yorkers over $238,000 in rent. We’ve also brought on some heavy-weight backers, including Zillow’s cofounder and former CEO, Spencer Rascoff, and Airbnb’s former director of Engineering, Surabhi Gupta.

I’m passionate about the work I’m doing now. Looking back, the irony of my time at McKinsey is that they’re constantly giving right-sizing advice to their clients, but completely miss the mark themselves.

Are you a consultant in a tough work environment? We would like to hear from you. Contact reporter Lakshmi Varanasi at [email protected].

Read the original article on Business Insider


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