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Real Humans of McKinsey: Hal Melia, Duke Fuqua ’19, Consultant

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Finance, leadership, and a global perspective: these are the principles to master in pursuit of a consulting career. Hal Melia entered Duke Fuqua with the goal of becoming a consultant, and by leveraging his background in finance and taking advantage of the opportunities Fuqua offered, Melia emerged better positioned to build his career at an elite firm. In this Real Humans: Alumni feature, find out how Fuqua prepared a future consultant for his successful career.

Hal Melia, Duke Fuqua MBA ’19, Consultant at McKinsey & Company 

Age: 32
Hometown: Dayton, OH 
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Notre Dame, Finance 
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): Fuqua, 2019
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5, Retail FP&A
Post-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 3.5, Consulting

Why did you choose to attend business school? 
I was ready to take the next step in my career, and looking for a new challenge.

Why Duke Fuqua? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? 
It will sound cliché, but the culture at Fuqua is what drew me here. One of my best friends was in his second year at Fuqua when I was applying, and had nothing but excellent things to say about the experience. I was able to visit several times, and totally fell in love with the campus and community.  Those factors, above all else, are why I picked Fuqua.

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
Coming into my MBA with an undergraduate finance degree and prior business experience, I knew that the classroom wasn’t the only place I would learn. I chose to dive into campus leadership opportunities, as well as experiential learning courses (independent study with professors, study abroad, global academic travel). My leadership role in our MBA student association taught me a lot about navigating a complex institution and influencing others without authority. My experiential learning courses gave me a taste of project management, while also exposing me to a set of global perspectives that I would have never gotten were it not for the MBA. Both of these, along with the personal growth I enjoyed from being around such a diverse and talented class, really prepared me to serve clients as a consultant.

What was your internship during business school?  How did that inform your post-MBA career choice? 
I spent my summer at McKinsey as a summer associate. Consulting was my primary career interest entering business school, so I was grateful to get to try it out between my first and second years. I really enjoyed the experience, and was delighted to return to McKinsey full-time after graduation.

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work? 
When selecting a summer internship, I was fortunate to have multiple consulting offers from which to choose. As a candidate, McKinsey stood apart to me for two reasons: the breadth of problems that the firm solves, and the large, heterogenous group of colleagues with which every McKinsey consultant gets to work. I was able to experience both of these dimensions firsthand during my summer internship, which is ultimately why I returned to the firm full-time, and continue to stay.

How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans? 
I never really planned to exit at the standard “2-year” mark. The disruptions of COVID have led to new and interesting problems which our clients need help solving, so in many ways, the pandemic has made this industry even more interesting.

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search? 
Ask the same core question (“describe your firm in one word”) of everyone I speak with, and keep a log so I can assess cultural differences in firms based on large bodies of responses.

–One thing you would change or do differently? 
Ask more pointed questions about career progression, promotion cycle, and compensation/benefits.

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process? 
Not really – McKinsey was fairly straightforward in its process.

 What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA? 
It’s okay to build deep relationships from day 1 – everyone here is excited to know you!

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.