In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, McKinsey Associate Corey Bourbonais talks about how her MBA education at Michigan Ross prepared her for the dynamic lifestyle of consulting. Read on for her insights into the leading business school and her advice for MBA candidates.
Corey Bourbonais, Michigan Ross MBA ’21, Associate at McKinsey
Hometown: Falmouth, MA
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Princeton University, Sociology
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2021
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 6 years in financial services; spent 1 year playing in women’s professional hockey league (while working)
Post-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): <1 year, McKinsey & Company
Why did you choose to attend business school?
Before Michigan Ross, I was fortunate to work at great companies in challenging roles. While I enjoyed my pre-MBA experiences, I wanted to attend business school to strengthen my quantitative skillset and develop my leadership capabilities. An MBA would help me develop a holistic understanding of business that would enable me to continually take on challenging roles and solve complex problems throughout my career.
Why Ross? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Two criteria were particularly important in my MBA decision: 1) a supportive, tight-knit community where I could take risks and grow, and 2) resources and guidance to achieve my post-MBA career goals, which were in consulting and financial technology.
I wanted to attend Ross since I stepped on campus for my visit and interview. My husband Clinton (Ross MBA ’21) and I applied to and attended the Full-Time MBA Program together. From the outset, we were impressed by the collaborative nature of the students at Ross. We also observed how invested the faculty were in students’ success, from the admissions officers to the professors.
Ross’ extensive educational and professional resources also aligned with what we were looking for in an MBA program. The mix of a rigorous classroom curriculum and innovative action-based learning opportunities (e.g., MAP, student-run venture funds, clubs) was a large driver in our decision to attend. Additionally, we had heard about the incredible strength of the alumni network.
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
Ross gave me repetitions in several challenging analytical and leadership situations, which directly supported my transition to McKinsey. I was able to take on leadership roles within the International Investment Fund, Consulting Club, Women in Business, and Fintech Club. Balancing these commitments with the challenging curriculum was ideal preparation for the pace and rigor of consulting. Ross challenged me to think on my feet and learn how to be successful under time constraints, which I will take with me throughout my career.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned at EY-Parthenon. I had a great experience and learned I loved the pace of management consulting. This informed my decision to continue in consulting post-MBA.
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
McKinsey aligned perfectly with what I wanted in a post-MBA role. First, it provided the opportunity to gain exposure to complex challenges and continually learn and grow. Second, I was impressed by how friendly and welcoming the McKinsey consultants were during the recruiting experience. The support I received throughout the application process made me excited to join the McKinsey community.
How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans?
Most of my business school experience was remote or hybrid due to the pandemic. While this was not ideal, it allowed me to take advantage of unique career opportunities. I interned full time for a private equity firm (mostly virtually) the last half of my second year. In addition to frontloading my courses to free up capacity, the remote nature of school enabled me to work full time in an area I am extremely interested in.
Advice to current MBA students:
As you navigate preparation for the recruiting process, remember to focus on your strengths in addition to your weaknesses. For example, early on I was hyper focused on mental math skills for case interviews (an area I was less confident in). While this was important, I eventually realized that it was equally critical to lean into and further develop strengths. For me, it meant incorporating more creativity and conceptual problem solving into cases. Upon realizing this, I felt more confident, and this translated into better results.
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
I would continue to be open-minded. I came to Ross with the intent of transitioning into tech roles, but explored other areas (including my current path in consulting). It is important to have a hypothesis as you start your MBA, but it is also critical to refine this hypothesis along the way and remain open to a diverse set of opportunities.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
I would better prioritize activities and commitments early on in my MBA experience. There are an infinite number of amazing opportunities to get involved in at Ross, and it is tempting to say yes to everything.
I learned after my first year to prioritize the activities most aligned to my interests and skills I was looking to develop. This more intentional approach made my second year more fulfilling.
–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
McKinsey’s interview process was supportive and transparent. The consultants I met during recruiting were extremely willing to answer questions about their experiences at the firm. Further, the recruiting team clearly articulated the steps in the interview process, so I knew what to expect.
–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Enjoy every moment! It goes by fast, and the people you meet during your MBA will be lifelong friends and colleagues.