If I Knew Then Advice on careers, finance, and life from Harvard Business School's Class of 1963

Barbara Minto on Turning Points

A big turning point was, of course, attending the Harvard Business School. Next was being hired by McKinsey as their “experiment” (first female consultant). But the real event that made all the difference was being transferred to London in 1966. It was a different world at McKinsey here; there were no MBA consultants in the London office because there were no business schools in England at that time. It was a genuinely exciting, creative time, and it changed my life — but that was still not the real turning point.

In 1973, the world experienced the Arab oil embargo, which greatly reduced demand for consulting services. As a result, McKinsey needed to cut its London office staff and I was one of the “cuttees.” The question for me was, do you go back to Cleveland, Ohio, and get a real job, or do you stay in London and try to open your own business?

I did stay and opened Minto International, Inc., where I refined and taught to the rest of the world what I had essentially been teaching at McKinsey. And that continues to be the story of my life.

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