Why Consulting is a Major Change for Meixi

By the time you read this, Meixi Guo will have finished her eight-week Elevate internship at DHL Consulting’s headquarters in Bonn. Meixi became involved with Elevate — an initiative designed specifically for women — as part of her two-year MBA studies. It has, she says, been a fascinating and skill-enhancing experience.

“I’ve been helping to organize an international conference for our client,” she explains. “It’s been extremely fast-paced and a really steep learning curve that has sharpened my problem-solving skills and my presentational skills. In fact, I’ve really enjoyed preparing content for senior management. In this role, you have to be able to translate a lot of data into something that's convincing, easily understandable, structured, and suitable for the right audience.”

Consulting has certainly been a major change for Meixi, who was born in Shenyang, China. After studying for a Bachelor of Science in Human and Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University in the U.S., she completed a Master’s in Conflict and Development at Geneva Graduate Institute in Switzerland. “I was sitting in the air-conditioned library in Geneva, writing a thesis about former child soldiers in Liberia,” she says. “It made me realize that theory was no substitute for experiencing places of conflict for myself.” So, post-graduation, Meixi worked for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in South Sudan, and then Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Author: Tony Greenway

Published: Last updated:

Be You, Culture & Career, Women at DHLC

Being a humanitarian worker in these countries was extremely rewarding. “One of my tasks was to take witness statements and gather evidence in areas of conflict in order to protect civilian populations,” she says. “It required expertise in project design and implementation, security and risk management, negotiations — and a lot of resilience and flexibility.”

Meixi has been able to bring some of these skills to the world of consulting. “My team at DHLC knew that I had worked with international organizations and was able to communicate with lots of different stakeholders in a diplomatic way,” she says. “Although the simpler way to say it is: I know how to talk!”

As a humanitarian worker, how safe did you feel in conflict zones?

South Sudan was fairly safe in one respect because local communities were not hostile towards humanitarian workers. On the other hand, there was always the risk that your car or house might accidentally be hit by a stray bullet because everyone has a gun. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I did have to take security and safety very seriously and follow strict rules. So there were different kinds of dangers to contend with.

Why did you want to leave humanitarian aid and enter the world of consulting?

Partly because living in those countries, and being so focused on their issues, made me feel disconnected from the rest of the world. Put it like this: I went back to China once and discovered that my grandma was using Tiktok! I thought: ‘What is happening?!’ So, yes, ‘disconnected’ is the word. As a result, I started an MBA at the IESE Business School in Barcelona and — as part of it — found out about DHL Consulting’s Elevate internship program. Every day is different when you are an Elevate intern. I don’t have one specific work-stream. Rather, I’ve been providing support to a number of colleagues.

What is the DHLC office culture like?

Diverse! Every company says they are diverse, but DHLC really is. Having been to lots of different countries I’m usually super-sensitive about to the need to integrate into the dominant culture. But I haven’t felt like that at all here because the DHLC office is such an international environment. I’ve never had to worry about changing who I am to fit in, and I can just be myself. That’s what being truly international means. It goes beyond nationalities so that people can be their original selves.

What are your hobbies away from the office?

I’ve become involved in improvisational theatre. Back in my Geneva days, a school friend of mine suggested we put on a cabaret show and perform improvisational sketches between each act. I wasn’t sure at first, but I’ve become really passionate about it. So much so that I started it again at IESE Business School in Barcelona and put on our first improv show back in May, which went very well. I’ve discovered I love the adrenaline rush of having to come up with ideas on the spot, and having good improv partners who are in tune with what I’m saying and doing.

Is there any connection between improvisation and consulting?

I can be a very spontaneous person. Consulting is all about planning in advance and that is important, of course. You need to plan, you need to be structured, you need to be organized. But, actually, I think there’s a space for spontaneity, too.

Is that because you have to be able to think quickly to deal with a client’s questions?

Ah: that’s more like flexibility and agility. There’s a difference between being flexible or agile and being spontaneous. Essentially, I try to be actively flexible, not reactively flexible. What that means in consulting is thinking outside the box, not just agreeing with each other but building on each other’s ideas and looking for different ways of creating impact.

Advocating for causes is something I do on a regular basis with my colleagues. Take advocating for gender equality. We must constantly have conversations about it because it’s such an important topic.

I’d rather be that persistent person who is always talking about an issue that needs addressing, rather than never mentioning it and hoping that things will improve on their own.

Meixi Guo

Be You: Read more stories from the women at DHL Consulting.

Read more articles

This site is registered on wpml.org as a development site. Switch to a production site key to remove this banner.