Katie Gunn, '11
Senior Consultant, Oliver Wyman, New York
I’m not even sure that I knew what sociology was when I first came to Harvard. I stumbled into the department on the advice of a classmate and decided that it was the perfect place for me. Sociology didn’t promise to teach me just one thing; it promised to teach me lots about many things. It promised to teach me how to examine problems from all angles, how to use various methods to analyze a single question. Having no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life after college, this was an enticing offer.
Since graduating in 2011, I have worked as a management consultant in the New York office of Oliver Wyman. My background in sociology has proven immensely helpful to help me succeed as a consultant in a number of ways. As consultants, we often go into a company to help a client answer or solve a question or problem that they have. It is necessary for us to look at the problem from all angles, examine all perspectives, and understand larger considerations before diving into the search for an answer. After studying sociology, this is second nature to me, and I am always considering a different lens through which to view the problem at hand.
The largest part of a consultant’s time is usually spent gathering and analyzing data to help answer key questions. This could include developing a survey, conducting interviews with stakeholders, or analyzing a large data set – all skills which I learned during the course of my sociology education. Sociology taught me how to combine both quantitative and qualitative methods to come to a holistic conclusion, and then how to present those results in a clear and concise manner. These are all skills which I have heavily drawn upon during my career.
In addition to teaching me the research and problem solving skills, sociology helped cultivate my passion for certain subjects, which I have been able to continue post-graduation. My sociological interests included organizational behavior, leadership, and gender. At Oliver Wyman, I am an active member of Women at Oliver Wyman (WOW), our employee resource group for women in consulting. I have been involved in women’s initiatives, morning breakfast clubs to discuss women’s issues, and brainstorming sessions to create an inclusive workplace.