Most consultants that work at prestigious consulting firm McKinsey & Company eventually land a top management role in the public or private sector. Recently McKinsey high flyer Lazar Krstic was appointed Minister of Finance in Serbia. Also Yahoo a while ago appointed two McKinsey alumni as COO (Henrique de Castro) and head of the Corporate Strategy department (André Christensen).
Naturally not all McKinsey consultants end up at the top of pyramid. Yet the story of American McKinsey Anish Shah can be called remarkable. After nearly ten years in the consulting industry, including 5 years at McKinsey and a few years at IBM, he made a radical career move: he became a stand-up comedian. And not merely a comedian, he has gradually risen to become one of the upcoming stars in the field.
After achieving an MBA from Yale University, Shah joined McKinsey & Company in 2004. He spent five years at the global consulting firm. Between mid-2009 and last month he worked for statistical software firm SPSS and IBM, in his most recent position as Director in the ‘Business Analytics Strategy’ department. Already during his spell at McKinsey, Shah grew a passion for stand-up comedy. Once part of the conglomerate IBM, his passion grew into a serious career. “I’m entrepreneurial and felt the need to start developing something on the side, so I started doing open-mic nights and it took off. I was able to book some private events and then bigger shows, and then it got to the point where I felt like this could be a real thing”. Following a sold-out summer tour, with more than 50 shows throughout the United States, he recently quit his job.
Shah has become famous for yelling jokes about the corporate world, including the continuous tension between consultants and their clients. In his latest show, named ‘Business-school’, he makes fun of the corporate life of strategy consultants and investment bankers. “In B-school, everyone is acting like they’re solving the world’s biggest problems—people have these elaborate conversations and use the weirdest phrases. Sketches center around strategy consultants and investment bankers who actually think they are going to be happy with their jobs after they graduate.”