SINGAPORE (Oct 1): The boardrooms of Ryan Ho’s (main image, left) earlier job may be a far cry from the lightsabers and bubble soccer at his current office, but he credits his two-year stint at McKinsey & Co for equipping him with the experience and skills to start a business and make it a success. Ho now runs The Fun Empire, a self-funded, innovative team building and events company, with his wife and business partner Natasha Koh. It is the couple’s third venture, having started and shuttered T-shirt printing and online tuition businesses while still in school.

“We needed to learn how to pick up on things really quickly and efficiently, often by the 80/20 rule, which is to focus on what’s most important and learning how to prioritise,” Ho recalls of his time at McKinsey. He is referring to the Pareto principle, which observes that 80% of effect comes from 20% of causes. He says the firm emphasised honing its consultants’ metacognitive abilities based on this concept. “I feel that metacognitive skills are quite underestimated. When we are engaged as consultants for projects in an industry that we are unfamiliar with, we are still expected to bring ourselves up to speed in one to two weeks.”

The 28-year-old advocates McKinsey as a great place to not only learn the basics of business, but also work in teams to solve problems. “We were tasked to solve huge, complicated problems for companies as consultants and [the process] really equips you with a very good mix of skill sets that are truly valuable and portable to start-ups. The firm also had a network of great mentors and advisers that could help us fill the knowledge gaps very quickly.”

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