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Nicholas Bennett

Nicholas Bennett

Student Invited Lecture
Wed, Mar. 23, 2016, 5:15pm
Frick Chemistry Laboratory, Taylor Auditorium
Host: SILS Career Speaker

How to throw (or how I threw) a Boomerang; a not-so random walk through the world of management consulting

As I was wrapping up my PhD in the fall of 2010, I was as uncertain of what to do next as I was that my Defense would actually come to fruition (it did).  A Thesis on algal metabolomics and the associated big-picture topics of biofuels and climate change had instilled a passion for environmental sustainability, yet my work on a nuanced aspect of a narrow, far-off solution left me eager to better understand the opportunities to help drive adoption of the myriad existing low-carbon solutions (think LEDs, variable speed drives, insulation retrofits, etc…)  Sitting at the triple point of business, technology, and environmental science and outside the scope of a typical career in academia, I wasn’t quite sure where to turn – until I discovered somewhat by happenstance McKinsey & Company’s Carbon Cost curve – a conceptually simple analysis of the aggregate potential and cost of hundreds of current and potential future carbon mitigation technologies.   The work, specifically its elegant simplicity and clear practicality, gave me a vision for the work I ultimately wanted to do. Several months, interviews, and case studies later I had discovered the world of management consulting.  Come September 2011, I was a freshly minted Associated at one of the worlds’ leading management consulting firms.

Over the past four and a half years at McKinsey, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to problem solve hand-in-hand with companies on critical challenges facing their organizations, develop business acumen and a growing consulting toolbox, and all the while arc back towards my true passion for large-scale impact on the pressing challenge of climate change, which I now focus on full-time.  I hope to share a little on how the years spent honing my understanding and execution of the scientific method during my PhD remain a cornerstone of my efforts at the Firm and possibly spark the interest of anyone interested in opportunities outside the traditional career paths in academia.