Being a Father: Strength or Weakness?


First of all, thanks a lot for sharing your insights and knowledge. Since I took notice of your website, I spend every possible minute to read and watch the videos!

Holding a diploma in industrial engineering from a Top 3 [European] University, I am now looking for starting my career in the consulting industry.

I finished my studies below standard duration and simultaneously gained some working experience in different fields, i.e. chemistry industry, consulting, and mechanical engineering research. Above all, I founded my own little family, being a proud father of two little kids. Managing all these things made it hard for me to gain excellent grades, also due to the fact that I had to work to secure the major share of our familiy income. Although my grades are still above average (maybe top 30%), I suppose I still have many competitors with better grades.

So here comes the question: Should I mention that my grades suffered due to my other responsibilites? Should I 'sell' my paternity as a strength, meaning that I gained a great deal of responsibility and am able to manage a lot things at the same time (which is true indeed)? Or is it that the consulting firms don't care, and don't want to see so much personal insights when reading the resume?

Victor, please help me out, I am really stuck in this matter. I searched the archive on the website and couldn't find similar questions, so I assume my situation is quite unique (or others don't dare to ask).

I would appreciate it so much if you write me back or share your answer on your blog.

Keep up the awesome work! And I hope I have to chance to come back to you with a success story!

My Reply:

The firms don't care if you're a father or not. (Though I do, and congratulations on your family!)

So I would not bother mentioning paternity. Instead, look for other ways to compensate. If your entrance exam scores were very high (better than top 30%), be sure to include those and indicate the percentile score. If you won any awards, be sure to identify how many winners vs. how many eligible to win. Then be sure to show strong accomplishments and results in your work experience and you can still be competitive.

Also, where paternity would help is if you're networking and you informally mention it, they might keep that in mind and look to the other areas of your background to see if there's evidence of underlying ability. In general, finding some way to meet someone who works in the firm you want to work in forgives a lot of traditional "weaknesses" on the resume.

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4 comments… add one
  • Siga Oct 15, 2012, 9:36 am

    Hi Victor

    McKinsey recently started practice called the Implementation Group (IG). They are looking for consultants in this area in South East Asia where I am based.

    Implementation consulting is very different from Strategy consulting so do you provide support or coaching in this area?

    From the various regions where these implementation roles are being posted (NA: Senior Implementation Coach) etc, the requirement is for 5-25 years of experience. One could be almost 50 years old to have such experience.

    I have 18 years of industry experience in financial services around program delivery, project management and implementation.

    What are your thoughts on pursuing these specialist/expert type roles at this stage of my career? Thank you

    Best Regards

    • Victor Cheng Oct 15, 2012, 1:36 pm


      I don’t know the implementation practice very well as it seems to be a newer practice area. However, I agree with the premise behind it which is once the decision to do X has been made in a classic strategy project, X still needs to actually get DONE.

      Quite often X does not actually get done which defeats the purpose of having the strategy in the first place.

      For these roles, I think experience is very valuable. There are dozens of reasons why things do not get done almost always related to people, politics, IT issues, etc…

      In short, I don’t see your 18 years of industry experience as a negative that should prevent you from applying. As a general rule McK likes recruiting people who are the top of their fields, so they’re going to want to see a “good” 18 years of experience, and not just “any” 18 years of experienced.

      Other usual items like academic pedigree is still useful to include. The bar probably isn’t as high as for the main Associate recruiting, but it is still probably a consideration if for no other reasons than they want to be able to sent a client your bio and not have them wondering if the fees McK charges is worth it.


  • Edward May 12, 2013, 9:41 pm

    Thanks Victor-

    I am also considering these implementation roles in North America and am looking to get insight into the following:

    – How are these anciallary roles’ value perceived by the CORE McK people? I have heard some non-core roles are seen more as competiton than value add to core engagement teams/ or as trying to “push” their services on core engagment teams

    – Do these roles have the same access to McK resources and career opportunities as the core McK roles

    – What does the Day in the Life look like for these roles as compared to core McK roles

    – Are these roles considered partner track?

    Thanks Victor for all your good work.

    P.S. Thanks to your amzing resources I aced round one interviews and an running onward and upward into round two…

    • Victor Cheng May 29, 2013, 2:19 pm


      My view on the ancillary roles is a bit dated. I personally found the professionals in those roles to be very helpful for my client work and that was largely the prevailing point of view among my colleagues at that time.

      The career track for these specialist roles is usually different. There is upward mobility, but the titles and path are usually not the same as the mainline consultants and often there is not cross over between them. One can make a quasi-partner level, but it is different than the other partners. Basically the quasi partner in the specialist track is the person in charge of other specialists. I’m not familiar with compensation and equity sharing of these roles, so I can’t comment on that.

      These roles may have access to some of the same resources, but probably not all of them. From a mainline consultants point of view, the specialist IS one of the resources the mainline consultants have access to.

      I don’t know the role well enough to know what a day in the life looks like.


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