From Burnout to Breakthrough: McKinsey Dropout, Angelina Lu, Shares the Journey

by / ⠀Featured News / August 11, 2023
Angelina Lu - From Burnout to Breakthrough McKinsey Dropout Shares the Journey

Discover the untold story of Angelina Lu, a former business analyst at McKinsey & Company who made the courageous decision to leave her prestigious consulting job and embark on a new path in the tech startup world. In this in-depth article, we delve into the challenges she faced, the reasons behind her departure, and the exciting opportunities that awaited her. Join us as we explore the journey of Angelina Lu, from burnout to breakthrough.

A Career Shift: From Material Science to McKinsey & Company

Angelina Lu’s journey began as an undergraduate student at Northwestern University, where she pursued a degree in material science and engineering. However, her experience working in a research lab during two summers made her realize that the routine of conducting research did not ignite her passion. Intrigued by the business side of material science, she set her sights on a career in consulting.

After graduating, Angelina Lu secured a position as a business analyst at McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s leading consulting firms. Her initial compensation package included a base salary of $80,000, with additional performance bonuses and retirement contributions. In her first year, her total compensation amounted to $106,650. Over time, her salary grew to approximately $130,000 as a senior business analyst.

The Mental Agony of the McKinsey Workload

While McKinsey offered prestigious opportunities and financial rewards, Angelina Lu soon discovered the toll it took on her mental health. Workdays stretched to 12 to 15 hours, often starting with pre-dawn flights to meet clients. The constant influx of emails and notifications added to her stress levels, leading to feelings of depression and anxiety.

Certain periods, like the two-week due diligence periods, were notorious for their intense workloads. Consultants like Angelina Lu would work until the early morning hours, catching only a few hours of sleep before returning to work at 8 a.m. The pressure intensified when faced with a not-so-friendly colleague who constantly blamed Angelina for project issues, causing her additional stress.

Losing Humility and Patience: The Pitfalls of the McKinsey Lifestyle

Working at McKinsey came with a host of perks, including luxurious accommodations and a dedicated travel team to handle flight arrangements. However, Angelina found herself becoming accustomed to this high-end lifestyle and losing touch with the realities of everyday life. Impatience and a lack of humility crept into her mindset, as she struggled to adapt to situations that didn’t align with the consultant lifestyle.

Recognizing her own shortcomings, Angelina realized that her stress-induced impatience and lack of perspective were signs that she needed a change. Real life, she discovered, operated differently from the meticulously curated world of management consulting.

The Stigma of Mental Health in Consulting

One of the biggest challenges Angelina faced was the reluctance to discuss her declining mental health. The culture of pride and achievement in consulting made it difficult for her to admit when she didn’t know something or when she was on the verge of a mental breakdown. Sharing her struggles would have made her feel defeated and unsuccessful in the competitive consulting environment.

Feeling the weight of her emotions, Angelina chose not to burden her colleagues with her mental strains. She believed that everyone had their own responsibilities, and discussing her challenges openly would only add to their plates. Consequently, she suffered in silence, battling her own mental health issues without seeking support from her team, mentors, or managers.

The Positives of the McKinsey Experience

Although Angelina faced numerous challenges during her time at McKinsey, there were also positive aspects of her experience. The prestigious reputation of the company and the confidence she gained from working with senior consultants gave her a significant boost. Having “McKinsey” on her resume opened doors and facilitated conversations with companies she was interested in.

McKinsey also provided a program called “Secondment,” which allowed consultants to take temporary assignments with other organizations. Angelina seized this opportunity and spent six months working in a small consultancy in Kenya, where she built a strong network and gained valuable experience.

In a twist of fate, Angelina even met her husband through McKinsey, adding a personal touch to her journey away from the consulting world.

Embracing the Tech World: From McKinsey to Fintech

Angelina’s departure from McKinsey marked a turning point in her career. She transitioned into the tech industry, taking on the role of a product manager at a fintech company called WealthSimple. This shift allowed her to explore a different professional landscape, interacting with individuals from diverse backgrounds and witnessing the impact of her work firsthand.

As a product manager, Angelina found fulfillment in executing projects and making an immediate impact. Unlike her previous consulting role, where she focused on high-level strategy and handed off the implementation to clients, she now had the opportunity to collect feedback and directly contribute to the success of her projects.

The Importance of Realistic Expectations in Consulting

Reflecting on her journey, Angelina emphasizes the need for a realistic understanding of the consulting industry. While many aspire to enter this field for its glamour and prestige, it’s crucial to recognize the challenges and potential impact on mental health. By shedding light on the realities of consulting, Angelina hopes to empower others to make informed decisions about their career paths, beyond surface-level allure.

McKinsey & Company did not respond to a request for comment on Angelina’s experiences.

Conclusion: Angelina Lu’s Journey of Resilience and Growth

Angelina Lu’s decision to leave McKinsey & Company and pursue a career in the tech startup world was a courageous one. Her journey from burnout to breakthrough serves as an inspiration to others facing similar challenges in the consulting industry. Through her experiences, Angelina reminds us of the importance of prioritizing mental health, embracing new opportunities, and finding fulfillment in making a tangible impact.

As Angelina continues to thrive in her role as a product manager, her story serves as a testament to the power of resilience and the ability to forge a path that aligns with one’s values and aspirations. Her journey reminds us that sometimes, the most significant breakthroughs come from taking a leap of faith and embracing the unknown.


What was Angelina Lu’s salary at McKinsey & Company?

Angelina started with a base salary of $80,000 as a business analyst at McKinsey. Over time, her salary grew to approximately $130,000 as a senior business analyst.

Why did Angelina decide to leave McKinsey?

Angelina left McKinsey due to burnout and a desire to explore new opportunities in the tech startup world. The demanding workload, long hours, and declining mental health were significant factors in her decision.

Did McKinsey negotiate salaries?

According to Angelina, McKinsey does not negotiate salaries. Whether hired as a business analyst or an associate, salary negotiations are not part of the company’s policies.

What positive experiences did Angelina have at McKinsey?

Despite the challenges, Angelina gained confidence and networking opportunities through McKinsey. The company’s reputation opened doors for her, and she even participated in the “Secondment” program, gaining valuable experience in Kenya.

How did Angelina transition into the tech industry?

After leaving McKinsey, Angelina became a product manager at WealthSimple, a fintech company. This transition allowed her to explore a different professional landscape and make a direct impact on projects.

What is the importance of discussing the realities of consulting?

Angelina believes it is crucial to discuss the challenges of the consulting industry to help aspiring consultants make informed decisions. By understanding the potential impact on mental health and the demands of the job, individuals can better assess if consulting aligns with their goals and aspirations.

What advice does Angelina have for those considering a career in consulting?

Angelina advises individuals to have realistic expectations about consulting and to prioritize their mental health. It is important to understand the demands of the industry and be prepared for the challenges that may arise.

How did Angelina’s career shift impact her life?

Angelina’s career shift allowed her to find fulfillment in a role where she could directly execute projects and witness their impact. She also met her husband through McKinsey, adding a personal touch to her professional journey.

What lessons can be learned from Angelina’s journey?

Angelina’s journey teaches us the importance of self-awareness, resilience, and the courage to make bold career decisions. By prioritizing mental health, embracing new opportunities, and finding fulfillment in making a tangible impact, individuals can forge their own paths to success.

Is Angelina Lu an advocate for mental health in the workplace?

While Angelina did not explicitly mention advocacy for mental health in the workplace, her story sheds light on the challenges faced and the importance of recognizing and addressing mental health issues in high-pressure environments.

First reported on Business Insider

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About The Author

Kimberly Zhang

Editor in Chief of Under30CEO. I have a passion for helping educate the next generation of leaders.