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Real Humans of Deloitte: Graham Wookey, Stanford GSB MBA ’19, Management Consultant

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Stanford GSB invites business leaders to “Change lives. Change organizations. Change the world.” And Graham Wookey, Stanford GSB MBA ’19, is trying to do just that at Deloitte. His consulting efforts support the energy transition and decarbonization, while serving startups and large companies in cleantech and energy. Read on for his story in this edition of Real Humans: Alumni.

Graham Wookey, Stanford GSB MBA ’19, Management Consultant at Deloitte

Age: 32
Hometown: Johannesburg, South Africa
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of the Witwatersrand, Materials Engineering
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): Stanford Graduate School of Business, 2019, concentration in energy & environment
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5, Mining
Post-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 2, Startups, Climate Change, Management Consulting

Why did you choose to attend business school?
I had been an engineer on mining operations for several years and was looking to switch to a role that was more business focused. At the same time, I wanted to have greater international flexibility and accelerate my career.

Why Stanford GSB? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Most important was the culture. Second to that was the location and the opportunities due to Stanford’s location in Silicon Valley. At the core of Stanford’s culture is being open and supportive. Whenever I spoke to an alum or current student, I felt that their full attention was on the conversation (not what they could personally get out of the conversation).

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
The most valuable career lesson I learned at GSB was the power of being vulnerable and the importance of that in being an empathetic leader.

What was your internship during business school?  How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
My first internship was at a late-stage, cleantech startup. This helped me realize my passion for discovering and implementing new technology. My second internship was at Deloitte Consulting, which gave me a taste of the many skills that you can learn at consulting.

Why did you choose Deloitte post-MBA? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I chose to work in consulting for three reasons. Firstly, because of the many opportunities it offered to further develop key leadership skills post-MBA (managing teams & stakeholders, communication, strategic thinking, etc.). Secondly, it allows you to explore an industry in-depth with access to thought leaders in the area. Thirdly, working on numerous projects in a short time would allow me to build my business acumen across multiple functions. And all of this while solving hard problems.

How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans?
COVID gave me the opportunity to work with the CEO and COO of an early-stage robotics startup before going into consulting. During the few months I was there, I helped set up both the marketing and sales functions, develop the structure for the future field operations function, and set the company’s strategy based on a financial model I built. This experience, along with the incredible team I was working with, is what brings me back to the startup world.

Advice to current MBA students
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Talk to everyone you possibly can in the industry/field you are interested in. The GSB network is incredibly strong and opens many doors.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
I would spend more time defining what I wanted to do and what my unique value proposition was to that industry/role. Then I would be more proactive in finding matching opportunities and reaching out to those people/companies.

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
Recruitment for management consulting is fairly straightforward – just make sure to be well prepared.

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
An MBA is the perfect time to focus on personal and professional development. In that order. Reflect deeply on who you are, what is important to you, and what you want to do with your life. Don’t be afraid to dream big. Then be very intentional about working towards what your goals are. When you do something intentionally and fail, it is a sign that you are pushing yourself beyond your limits. It is the best way to grow, and the only way to achieve the incredible.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.