Arianna Bassoli: Why I work at McKinsey

This is the second of an occasional series profiling our colleagues on the experience design team at Digital McKinsey. Today we talk to Arianna Bassoli, a digital specialist based in our Berlin office. Ari is originally from Bologna, Italy. She tells us about getting into digital design when the profession was still in its infancy. For more on our design team click here.

At the time I was studying journalism and becoming less and less convinced that this career path was the right one for me. It was 1999, the early days of digital, and I started collaborating with my university design lab doing web design and interactive work.

Soon after, I earned a position as researcher in one of the best interaction design centers at the time, Media Lab Europe, which is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab’s partner in Europe. It was a great time to explore the dawn of this field: to design, prototype and test mobile and tangible interfaces long before smartphones came into the market, or IoT and makers became a trend. I was so impressed by the quality of people working in this field, there was such energy and enthusiasm invested into building the future, that I decided it was the right career path for me.

Most of the time my work is not as much about solving problems as it is about exploring opportunities. Technology is becoming more and more intertwined with our lives and work. As this happens, the challenges for designers increase. We need to determine how to make all the different technologies integrate seamlessly into our natural way of living and operating. We need to determine how to make them be of service, not create more problems or constraints. We need to find ways of approaching technology with joy instead of anger and frustration.

My philosophy is to be as open-minded as possible when applying design thinking, as there are so many things to consider. First, understanding the users, of course. Next, creating a long-term vision, integrating the constraints, needs, and opportunities coming from business and development. Finally, taking that vision to a live product in a short period of time. Every project and situation is different, and so are the teams. That’s why designers need to be very adaptable and really understand the whole process that goes from exploration to the model-view-presenter stage and further. Being able to communicate effectively with both business and development teams is key. Because of its multidisciplinary nature, I see design as the glue within every digital project.

At McKinsey, I love the intellectual stimulation and working in different countries, and I love the people most of all. I don’t think I have ever worked with so many talented designers, developers, and agile coaches. They’re also interesting and nice. Friday at the office is key for us. It’s when we share stories and seek advice across teams. The opportunity to work with many colleagues on different projects is powerful for me. Also, I appreciate working with consultants. I learned from them how to solve problems, deal with the business and management side of big corporations, and to manage many hard tasks in a fast and efficient way. Also, working in different places around the world gives me the chance to explore deeper sides of cultures that are new to me. I get to discover the way people live much more than just visiting a place as a tourist.