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Real Humans of McKinsey: Ryan Murray, Emory Goizueta MBA ’23, Associate

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Ryan Murray went from dirty cowboy boots and climbing into gas turbines to wearing khakis, mastering Excel, and consulting at McKinsey & Company as an associate. How did he manage such a drastic career transition? By taking advantage of Emory Goizueta‘s prestigious MBA. In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, Murray shares how Emory’s problem-solving program and community experience prepared him for a new career at a world-class consulting firm.

Ryan Murray, Emory Goizueta MBA ’23, Associate at McKinsey & Company

Age: 32
Hometown: Miami, FL
Undergraduate Institution and Major: University of Florida, BS Mechanical Engineering
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: Emory University Goizueta Business School, 2023, Strategy & Operations
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Field Service Engineer / Project Manager, Siemens Energy, 2014 – 2019, Energy; Senior Consultant, EY, 2019 – 2021, Consulting
Post-MBA Work Experience: Associate, McKinsey & Company, 2023 – Present, Consulting

Why did you choose to attend business school?
Moving from wearing dirty cowboy boots and climbing into gas turbines at work every day as a Field Service Engineer to working in consulting, wearing slacks, and using Excel was a huge change for me. I instantly felt underqualified and that everyone on my team spoke a different language than me. I had some amazing mentors that I really looked up to (professionally and personally), and one key thing that they all had in common was that they all attended business school. I figured this would be the best way to level up professionally. Around the same time, I also had a fellow engineering friend from undergrad reach out to chat about business school, as he was starting his MBA and felt as though it should be on my radar as well. All of the stars were aligning and business school was inevitable!

Why Emory Goizueta? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I had been living in Atlanta for about 6 years prior to my MBA, and with Emory being so close, it was a no-brainer to want to go there! I had loved living in Atlanta up to this point and wanted to continue building a life here post-MBA. The Emory brand is extremely strong in the southeast, so getting to continue building on local Atlanta relationships during my 2 years as a student was extremely appealing. Atlanta is also home to major brands like Coca-Cola, Delta, Chick-fil-A, and Home Depot, all of whom are chock-full of GBS graduates!

Emory’s class size was also a huge selling point for myself and my classmates. By graduation, I knew everyone in my class by name, which helped to build unparalleled community. It also means that my professors knew me as well and they have been a huge asset to my professional network. 

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career as an associate at McKinsey?
Emory offers an excellent year-long program called the IMPACT program. In this program, you spend one semester learning structured problem-solving techniques, followed by another semester working on a live client engagement as a consultant. This unique combination of learning client management skills and honing the ability to break down complex issues and solve problems proved to be invaluable in my current career as a consultant. The experience of being a student provided a safety net that allowed me to apply my knowledge and skills with confidence.

What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice of associate at McKinsey?
I interned at Nike in Beaverton, Oregon, as a Global Operations intern, specifically focused on improving machine efficiency forecasting for Nike’s Air Manufacturing Innovation group. While my project was focused on manufacturing, I worked across finance, supply chain and engineering to get full exposure to those functions. I loved everything about my internship at Nike, but this work really highlighted my desire to go back to project-based consulting work, helping clients across various industries and functions improve and make better organizational decisions.   

Towards the end of my MBA, I also interned with re:3D, a small (but mighty!) 3D printer manufacturer based out of Houston, TX. As an avid 3D printing fan, I wanted to gain some real-world industry experience in 3D printing while having the opportunity to learn from some smart and driven industry professionals. I had a fantastic summer that culminated in me running a giveaway where re:3D donated an industrial Gigabot printer to Brookwood in Georgetown, an innovative vocational community for adults with special needs. It was a fulfilling internship and helped me realize the benefits of working at a mission-driven startup.

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
Once I knew I wanted to go back into consulting full-time, McKinsey was at the top of my list. What I really liked about McKinsey was the possible range of experiences I would have due to the size and reach of the Firm. Learning about new topics from some really, really smart coworkers is something I looked forward to, and something I make a point to take advantage of daily while working here.

Another factor was the extensive global footprint of McKinsey and the potential for international work and relocation. With over 130 offices in more than 65 countries worldwide, McKinsey offers the opportunity to work on a global scale. As someone who is interested in continuing to work in the energy industry and contributing to the energy transition, the chance to work internationally and collaborate with global clients would greatly benefit our efforts in accelerating our climate goals.

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Genuinely leverage the power of being a student. There are so many people out there that would love to share their experience with you. Reaching out to people, not solely because they work at XYZ company and can provide you a recommendation – but because you’re truly interested in a particular subject matter, can lead to amazing conversations and outcomes.
–One thing you would change or do differently as part of the job search?
I had no clue what I wanted to do until halfway through my MBA. Looking back, I wish I would’ve put in the leg work to research cool smaller startups that were in an industry that was part of my 5 or 10-year plan and offered to intern for them while I was a student. It’s a win/win situation! These companies get MBA-level talent at a discount while you gain real experience doing something that you really like doing.

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
I think the biggest surprise to me was how my interviews felt like it was us (interviewer and myself) vs. the problem and not me vs. the interviewer. Maybe I got lucky and had great interviewers, but this really made the case studies seem manageable and interviews less intimidating.

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Do everything you can. Take the hard classes, ask all the dumb questions, go to all the speaker series, and meet all the people (other MBA students and industry professionals) you can while you’re a student! It is so much harder once you graduate to continue upskilling yourself, and the networking opportunities are still there, but not as easily as it is for students. I’m not saying to say yes to everything, because that might lead to missing opportunities. Really think about the potential benefits to opportunities and say yes to those things that in five years, you’ll look back and think, “Shoot, I wish I would’ve done that during my MBA!” 

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.