I’ve been able to find the balance that works for me

Nikki - Partner

Why Oliver Wyman?I never really planned to be a management consultant – I was originally thinking of economic consulting but my university tutor had just begun working at Oliver Wyman and highly recommended it. So, I found myself applying! When I applied for jobs I only applied for Oliver Wyman since it was the only company I wanted to work for. The night after my second round interviews I remember freaking out with panic when it hit me that had no back-up plan! At least it worked out in the end. All of these years here have been hugely impactful on me as an individual, especially as I reflect upon the fact that the firm values have also penetrated my personal values – particularly straight-forward, open, respectful interaction and commitment to doing what is right.

MilestonesAfter 7 years of client-facing consulting work, I started to think about doing something else. My husband and I knew that we wanted kids at some point, so I was looking to cut down on the travel and get a bit more control over my time. I was also looking for a different kind of role. My first thought was to go external – I couldn’t see a role for me internally that meant I could still stay close to the client work I loved. But the leadership here stepped in and worked with me to find a position as the Chief of Staff for one of the practices. Since then my job has continued to change and grow over time – from supporting a growing practice to managing several of the support departments as Chief Administrative Officer, and now as Chief of Staff at Oliver Wyman Group. My biggest career success so far was being promoted to Partner when I was a Support Professional. What made me most proud about the achievement was not the personal recognition, but the fact that my promotion was a signal to all the other Support Professionals that such an aspiration was possible.

MentorsThere have been several mentors along the way, formal and informal, and mostly men! I have been extremely fortunate to work very closely with our now-President all along the way. Scott McDonald is one of the fairest and most transparent decision-makers I have ever met. He has such a strong sense of doing what is right, that he can bring people with him, even through the toughest decisions. Throughout my career, my mentors have always encouraged “stretch opportunities” which used to fill me with fear - but now when I look back I realise that those were the moments when I really thrived. Over time I’ve learned not to fear stretch opportunities, but to actively seek them out. As a mentor myself now, I try to encourage people not to shy away from stretch opportunities--take control of your career and make things happen for you – no-one else will do it for you, and you’ll fall behind. You also need to have patience – often things don’t happen instantly, but you can’t give up.

Outside of the daily workMy role on the Global Leadership Team naturally involves me in a huge variety of activities. I am active with WOW (Women at Oliver Wyman) and try to join as many of their events as possible. I am a particular fan of our annual picnic in the park and other informal events that bring female consultants together. Oliver Wyman has loads of great initiatives for women, but of all of them I think the most impactful are the simplest - just getting together with junior women and talking about the different paths you can take to balance work and family. Women need to feel emotionally supported and know there are different paths available – in my mind that is even more important than more tangible things like putting in a crèche.

The most important thing to me outside of the firm is my family and getting to spend my free time with my girls – even if that does feel like being a taxi service sometimes! What I love about Oliver Wyman is that it has allowed me to be an involved mum, while enjoying a successful and challenging career. I generally never miss the important things for my daughters, like the school play, because I’ve been able to find the balance that works for me. That’s just not the same for my peers in managing director roles at banks and other places, where they might have to take a whole day off just to make a family commitment.