Gutiérrez Gómez successfully pivoted from his career in psychology research to consulting with McKinsey.
Headshot of Agustín Gutiérrez Gómez
Agustín Gutiérrez Gómez

Originally a psychology researcher from Colombia, Agustín Gutiérrez Gómez, MPP’21, now works for McKinsey & Company—a job he secured prior to graduating from Harris—where he consults with clients in the public and private sectors on technology transformation and corporate strategy.

"Even though I’m relatively new to this role," said Gutiérrez Gómez, "I’ve had the opportunity to work on a project developing strategy for a Latin American government and one developing new ventures with financial institutions. Although there is a learning curve, the work is very rewarding.”

While Gutiérrez Gómez was always interested in pursuing a career like the one he has today, he said he faced significant academic barriers. At age nine, he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, which degenerated his eyesight over time.

“When I was applying to college, my eyesight was already very low, and I didn’t have the technologies and strategies I have now to work through those challenges. I had initially been interested in engineering and business, but my eyesight was a deterrent. So, I decided to study psychology: not only was it interesting, but I also felt it was the most viable career option if I lost my eyesight completely.”

While studying psychology at the Universidad de los Andes, Gutiérrez Gómez studied the concept of resilience—how people facing adversity could have positive outcomes in life. The concept resonated with him personally.

“I was born in Medellín, which at the time was the most violent city in the world, and my family moved to Bogota for security reasons. That circumstance, along with my disability, motivated me to study youth resilience and later to research ways to help prevent the recruitment of adolescents by armed groups.”

Upon graduation in 2013, Gutiérrez Gómez worked as a Teachers’ School Coordinator with EduEMPLEA, an organization that provides employment training to low-income youth in Colombia. In 2016, he went on to work with the United Nations International Organization for Migration (IOM), evaluating and strengthening programs to prevent recruitment of youth by criminal organizations. He continued this work while a Pearson Fellow at The Person Institute at Harris.

While at IOM, Gutiérrez Gómez realized he wanted to add an analytics component to his psychology skills in order to have a larger impact. The Master of Public Policy (MPP) at Harris, he said, was the ideal pathway to accomplish that.

"The skills I learned at Harris equipped me to pivot to my career with McKinsey. The University of Chicago is such an amazing academic environment—it enhances the way you think about the world. The way professors, lecturers, speakers, and fellow students structured problems helped immensely, because my work at McKinsey is all about solving problems."

Gutiérrez Gómez said the skills he gained in his Analytical Politics I course have been immensely valuable. “One of the greatest concepts I learned from that class is that the best solution in business and politics is not necessarily the objectively best solution, but the one that is good enough and feasible. It also taught me that you need to examine the incentives and expectations of other people to achieve your goals.”

He also credits the Dean of Students office for connecting him to resources for students with disabilities that helped him succeed as a student. “They made the best possible effort to accommodate my needs. There were things we learned along the way by trial and error, but we found solutions."

When asked what he considered the most valuable part of his Harris experience, Gutiérrez Gómez said, "The doors it opens. When organizations see you’re from the University of Chicago, it has an impact.”