How Christine Crawshaw made it at McKinsey & Company with an MBA
Christine Crawshaw didn't think she could get into a business school. Now she has an MBA, a job at McKinsey & Company – and a new baby.
"I honestly thought Melbourne Business School was out of reach. But my husband encouraged me to apply after I helped him with his own MBA work," Christine says.
"I started the Part-time MBA in 2015 and chipped away at it one subject at a time because I had a child at home and then, halfway through, had my second."
Christine completed her degree in 2019 and is now working as an implementation team associate at the global management consultancy, where she and her team coach clients through change and help them implement winning strategies.
Christine first came to the attention of the firm in 2016, when a McKinsey recruiter reached out to her via LinkedIn after spotting she was studying at Melbourne Business School.
"The McKinsey recruiter said my career experience to date aligned well to their implementation team," she says.
"After a chat, she recommended that I wait until I finish my MBA before starting with the firm. We kept in touch over that period and I also did my research on what McKinsey were doing across all sectors."
Before beginning her MBA, Christine worked on major transport and infrastructure projects at Transurban and the Port of Melbourne as an asset engineer and business advisor.
"At the Port of Melbourne, I was leading the asset strategy team and was fairly junior in terms of my experience," she says.
"I felt that I needed some additional training to help me be the best leader possible, and that's what initiated me to look into an MBA. But I was still hesitant because most schools felt largely inaccessible to me."
At the time, Christine's husband was halfway through his own MBA at Melbourne Business School – which became the motivation she needed to step over the line.
"My husband would come home and practice his questions and negotiation on me," she says.
"Then he'd say that the feedback I gave him was as good as what he would get in class, and that really encouraged me to at least apply at Melbourne Business School."
Christine decided early on to study one subject per term so she could maintain time for her family. Surprisingly, this schedule also gave her more time for research.
"I had flexibility for home and class, which I used for extra research and that gave me a better handle on the content," she says.
The extra effort helped Christine stand out, and she was asked to share her knowledge as a tutor to other students.
"The research I put in showed and a facilitator registered me as a tutor to help other students on subjects that I'd already finished. That actually helped me retain the knowledge I'd learned even more."
Christine's most memorable lesson from the MBA was from a people management class with Associate Professor Jennifer Overbeck.
"I'm really passionate about organisational culture and driving lasting change, so I really enjoyed that subject and the things it taught around culture," she says.
"I think that informed why I was attracted to McKinsey. We do a lot of work looking at organisational design to support client strategy."
For Christine, coming to Melbourne Business School introduced her to new challenges that she hadn't experienced in the workplace.
"Typically, in my career, if I had put forth ideas in a meeting, I wasn’t challenged to push my thinking even further. Things were just accepted or moved on from," she says.
"It wasn't until I got into the MBA that when I put an idea forward, someone else would really challenge it across the table and say 'no, that's not going to work'.
"That made me realise there are lots of different approaches to solving problems, which taught me to be more mindful when problem-solving."
For other young mothers looking to study again, Christine says the key is to build a strong base around yourself.
"You really need to make sure you have a supportive network around you before embarking on any study, especially if you have a young family at home," she says.
"I wouldn't have been able to do any of this without a very supportive family network and enough time to be there for them and my work."