The McKinsey consultant arrived last week. My office has both E&Y auditors and McKinsey consultants trawling the offices looking for trouble right now – but I noticed the McKinsey guy because for weeks, all anyone could talk about was The McKinsey Consultant. He’s so smart, he’s so brilliant, and he’s hot, all the girls were saying.
My boss was making the rounds with The McKinsey Consultant, and they stopped in my office. I took in The McKinsey Consultant quickly: he had a Roman face, sensual hooded eyes that were sort of liquid brown, nice looking. Yes, sort of hot. But so what?
My boss said, “And this is Cara.” Then he asked me to email The McKinsey Consultant something. Whereupon, my boss launched into an introduction thusly:
“Cara is a data hound. She just consumes massive amounts of information, distills it, and knows how to apply it. She has the bandwidth to do anything; throw an IT problem at her, she’s got it. Ask for some financial modeling, she’ll handle it. She’s extremely smart, she will pick up any inconsistency no matter how small, and she’s got the balls like I’ve never seen before. She’s very aggressive. She’ll pick up the phone and call the Chairman of Exxon to ask him about a press release she doesn’t like.”
I laughed and glanced up at the two people in my office. The McKinsey Consultant laughed. My boss was still heaping praise. But then I noticed the “manner” (for lack of a better word) of The McKinsey Consultant. There was something exceedingly deliberate about him. I realized that as he had been trawling the office with my boss for the whole day, there had been something about him that seemed to always be thinking, always processing. And that was what I detected here – that he was laughing, but he was also processing that information.
Later, I got out of a meeting and was walking to my desk from the conference room, and somebody called for me and said my boss wanted to see me. He and The McKinsey Consultant were in the hallway, and there were a few others there. We began to talk informally in the hallway, and I noticed that I kept looking at The McKinsey Consultant. And when I looked away, I was aware of his eyes on me.
It was downright odd.
So as we were talking, The McKinsey Consultant said, in this very softspoken voice, that we should solve a problem THIS way. It was an internal problem we had, and instantly he saw through the problem to how it should work.
I was dumbstruck. I had thought of something similar but not quite exactly that, and my boss loved it. The McKinsey Consultant was the only person who could convincingly tell my boss that we should do this one thing this way. The words had to come from his mouth – else he just wouldn’t have heard them the right way.
Other McKinsey Consultants I’ve known have the same ability. It is downright eerie. It made me think of Jeff Skilling and Rex Shelby and David Berberian and others who gravitate to jobs that require them to be persuasive, authoritative, and simply brilliant enough to understand all the facets and aspects of a problem almost instantly.
The group moved from the hallway to someone else’s office, and our discussion continued around someone’s computer. I glanced up, and saw The McKinsey Consultant looking at me. I didn’t flinch. I just looked back at him. And then slowly a smile moved over his face.
Then I looked away.
Back at my desk, I threw myself into work. I was busy being the go-go-go girl, and I wanted everyone to know it.
The next morning I got to my work and an IT guy came up to me. “I need your fingerprint.”
I frowned. “Pardon me?”
“I need your fingerprint. They want you to start clocking in.”
My world began to spin. The floor under my feet began to tilt. “What?” I asked.
The IT guy shrugged. “You’re on the list. McKinsey and the auditors said so.”
I rose and followed him to the fingerprint machine. My face was beating red and I felt like I was going to cry. How was this possible? My boss know that I get to work at 7 and work until 9 almost every day. He sees me there, for the love of cheese doodles. We often walk out together, when the whole building is empty and dark, and escalators aren’t even running anymore. And just yesterday he had been so enthusiastic about my performance. Was he unhappy with me?
“Is everyone doing this now?” I asked. The IT guy said nope, just a few people. I blindly went through the process of giving my fingerprint to the machine to “clock in”, and then went back to my desk.
I was going to quit. I love my job, but I hate being treated like a child. I am an adult, I want to be treated like it. I called someone in a branch office that I have been working with and who I’ve come to trust. “I’m going to quit,” I told this person.
“I don’t blame you. I have no idea what’s going on but this is really odd.”
I hung up, trying to figure out how to tell my boss that though I love my job, Cara Ellison is not working at Taco Villa, and Cara Ellison does not keep timesheets. Period.
So I got up and marched down the hallway and there, The McKinsey Consultant appeared. “What’s the deal?” I said in a blatantly confrontational tone. “You told them I should clock in?”
“Good morning, Cara.”
My eyes slit at him. “What’s going on? Why did you tell them I should clock in?”
“I told them no such thing,” he said very calmly.
I turned and walked away, and went to HR. “Why am I being asked to clock in?” I asked.
The HR lady looked perplexed. “You’re not,” she said. “Only hourly workers are.”
“I’m not hourly,” I said. “I’m salary.”
She shuffled through some papers. “Oh, somehow you got on the hourly list. McKinsey and the auditors think it would be wise if we ran a little more efficiently…”
I thanked her and left.
At my desk, I began to relax. It was just a mistake. I threw myself back into the work. My boss and The McKinsey Consultant were walking around again, and I felt a little sheepish so when they walked by my office, I tried to look “extra busy”. They stopped anyway, oblivious to my imaginary busy-ness.
My boss gave me some more tasks, and I said fine and silently shooed them out of my office. But then someone who had been in a meeting off campus came back, and my boss heard him talking to someone else and wanted to talk to him. But The McKinsey Consultant stayed right where he was. In my doorway.
“Did you get the problem straightened out?” he asked with that weirdly calm veneer.
“Yes, thank you,” I replied. I glanced away and then looked back. “Is there anything else…?”
He smiled again, slowly and like he knew some great secret about me. “Your boss is right. You’re very … aggressive. You seem determined to get what you want.”
I didn’t reply.
“You would have fit in where I used to work. Enron.”
I decided right then and there that I liked him just fine.