Engineer + MBA

Former Lockheed Martin Engineer Lands Top Consulting Job At McKinsey

Written by Marco De Novellis | Engineer + MBA | Thursday 31st March 2016 17:21:00 GMT

Christine Savage is proof that an engineering degree can lead to a career in business

Christine Savage joins McKinsey's Sydney office in August this year

Christine Savage joins McKinsey's Sydney office in August this year

Christine Savage is proof that an engineering degree can lead to a stellar career in business.

For several years she worked as a mechanical engineer on the targeting system for Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft. Now, she’s landed a top job at management consulting giant McKinsey and is set to start at the firm’s Sydney office in August this year.

Christine graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Florida before joining Lockheed Martin. There she worked on the controversial F-35 project which will reportedly cost the US defense department $1.5 trillion over 55 years. A woman in a man’s world, she was inspired by Lockheed Martin’s CEO, Marillyn Hewson.

While she enjoyed her time at the global aerospace firm, Christine relocated to Australia to study an MBA degree at Sydney’s Australian Graduate School of Management and to make the transition into the world of business.

Why did you apply to work at McKinsey?

McKinsey is the best possible next step in my career. The opportunity to work on some of the world's toughest challenges in a variety of industries is very appealing to me.

How did your engineering background prepare you for a career in business?

There are several primary skills that I would identify as valuable and highly transferable: the ability to analyze data, draw conclusions and confidently make decisions, and the ability to work well in high-pressure situations.

How was your experience working for Lockheed Martin?

I was one of two mechanical engineers supporting the F-35 production line as we emerged from the stage of low rate production and ramped up to full rate.

I worked with cutting-edge technology which was engaging, yet difficult when something went wrong. The technical challenges enabled me to develop a very systematic and structured approach to problem solving.

Did you feel in a minority as a female engineer?

While there were very few female mechanical engineers within the company, other functions had equal representation among genders. I didn’t feel like I was the only woman working there.

What is the future for women in engineering?

The future is bright and there are definitely several very strong female leaders.

I am fortunate to have worked in a corporate with a female CEO - Marillyn Hewson - who was a great role model for me early in my career and continues to inspire me to this day.

Why do you think so many engineers go on to take MBAs?

Very simple: the world revolves around business and there is little to no opportunity to gain this knowledge in an engineering curriculum. Sooner or later, most engineers figure out that they need to understand things like finance, marketing, strategy, and accounting.

Personally, I saw my career going down a very technical path and I wanted to study business to get the big picture of everything that goes on in corporations. I would not have been able to make the jump from engineering straight to McKinsey without an MBA.

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