Alistair Matthew Hanna, 69, died on July 12. Ali hired me for my first full-time job as an Associate at McKinsey & Company, where he was a Director. He created the firm’s Mini-MBA program, which recruited graduate students without traditional MBAs and trained us to become strategic thinkers.
Ali believed that high-potential talent rarely travels along a single pathway. While MBA programs produce promising candidates, so do medical schools, law schools, PhD programs and fellowship programs. He scoured the world for talent and was willing to make and mentor unconventional hires.
In my case, Ali took an exceptionally big risk. When he interviewed me in 1988, I had no business experience–just an MLitt degree in comparative literature. My master’s thesis was on portrayals of Cleopatra in Renaissance drama. I’m not sure how Ali knew that I’d take a liking to marketing, finance and business strategy.
Although I left the firm in 1991, the opportunity that Ali gave me at McKinsey has shaped me as a professional. It taught me that every problem is solvable as long as you approach it with determination, smarts and teamwork. It also taught me to look for talent in untraditional places.
I’m deeply indebted to Ali for the risks that he took and the mentorship he gave. I hope to pass that on.
Photo courtesy of Kalyan Kanuri on Flickr
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