McKinsey Consultant Shares Career Insights with Isenberg Students

October 9, 2012

David FubiniDavid Fubini"In my career advice, I urge students and recent graduates of Isenberg to think strategically," notes Isenberg marketing graduate David Fubini '76. "If you aren't moving in a purposeful direction, you'll be moved along by some other influence, I tell them." Now in his third decade as a senior director of McKinsey & Company, Inc., Fubini was managing director of the consulting giant's Boston office for over a decade. "I tell students and young professionals to be aware of career tradeoffs and to see the whole board-to look two or three moves ahead," he continues. "If you choose entrepreneurship, for example-where three out of four start-ups fail-your pathway will be steep. You must ask yourself, where do I go next? before your first move."


Without question, David Fubini knows strategy. As founder and past leader of McKinsey's Worldwide Merger Integration Practice, he guided large consolidations in a host of industries, including pharmaceuticals, beverages, and mining. He has also led his firm's North American Organization Practice and has done extensive pro bono work, helping Boston area civic organizations to sharpen their strategic focus.

Fubini's footprint at Isenberg is substantial. He mentors a dozen Isenberg seniors and recent graduates, is a visiting practitioner/lecturer in Isenberg classes, and offers strategic insights both to Dean Fuller and as a member of the Isenberg Leadership Board.1 "For me, giving back through mentorship comes naturally. Mentors have been invaluable in my own career," he observes. That includes Fubini's student days at Isenberg in the mid-1970s, when his marketing professor/mentor Charles Schewe (still a formidable presence today at the school) helped him to secure a hands-on field study with Spalding and then employment after graduation with Johnson & Johnson. "I've also been on the giving and receiving ends of mentorship opportunities and exceptional alumni networks at McKinsey and the Harvard Business School, where I got my MBA," he adds. "With over 40,000 alumni, Isenberg has tremendous strategic assets of its own, which Dean Fuller is leveraging."

In November, Fubini will visit Isenberg to share strategic and career insights with students in Professor Marc Weinberger's course, Managerial Perspectives on Marketing Strategy. In the Spring, Fubini will make periodic presentations in a management strategy and policy course taught by Assistant Professor Thomas Moliterno. "In my experience, the academic and practitioner sides of business education have never been closer," Fubini observes. Credit that, he says, to the prominence of case-based education and increased student exposure to practitioners through internships and systematic visits to Isenberg by executives.

"In the classroom my challenge is to complement, not replicate, the professors' theories and concepts," he emphasizes. "I offer a color commentary with stories and examples from business. Students and others learn best by example. I draw on decades of professional experience-things that worked and didn't work in business."  Fubini, also underscores the importance of stakeholders in business decision making. There's nothing new, he notes, about the concept, which, includes shareholders, employees, suppliers, the local civic community, societal interest groups, and others. What is new, however, is the firm's increasing transparency with those groups. Practitioners and firms that ignore those complex relationships, he says, operate at a disadvantage.

The Isenberg graduate's advice on successful careers is no less strategic.  "I often cite our managing director," he remarks. "In his view and mine, basic analytical quantitative skills and ability are a given. With that said, you have to differentiate yourself. That will only come if you cultivate insatiable curiosity and key relationships. You must never allow yourself to plateau or become self-satisfied. And to complicate things further, you need to temper your intellectual curiosity with humility." 


1 He is also on the board of directors of the UMass Amherst Foundation and on the founding board of governors of the UMass Club in Boston.