Lessons in using your voice
“One thing I really value about UNC Kenan-Flagler is that they encourage you to pursue your interests and give you a platform to build leadership within the things that you’re passionate about,” says Guttman.
In her case, this was the Pride Club. She served as its president during a turbulent time for the LGBTQ+ community in North Carolina.
“It was during an election that was dominated by debate around defining marriage only as between a man and a woman,” she recalls. “And we organized students to march to the polls together against it.”
Guttman was moved not only by the support she received from administration and faculty, but by the number of students who were open to having conversations around this topic – and the support was not limited to Pride Club activities.
She remembers vividly when, at a sports game with another school, she witnessed a fan say something offensive. She was very upset by it, but it wasn’t until she got home that she realized she had to speak up.
“I wrote an email and I sent it to the whole class,” she recalls. “I was initially unsure what my voice should be and when it was right to use it.”
However, the response she got from her fellow students was heartening. The experience led to the Pride Club setting up events in partnership with another school.
“That was an incredibly important lesson in using your voice, even when it’s a little scary or uncomfortable,” she says.
“This was part of the reason I came to UNC Kenan-Flagler – to build my own leadership skills and have a chance to flex those in an area I was passionate about.”
Her leadership at the School didn’t go unnoticed: She received the Integrity Award, selected by her classmates.
As a graduate, Guttman continues to share her voice at UNC Kenan-Flagler. She has returned to speak at the Carolina Women in Business conference and is a member of the School’s Corporate Advisory Board on Diversity and Inclusion.
Leading the DEI charge at McKinsey
The courage to use her voice and apply her skills to create change was something that Guttman always had potential for, but she honed it at UNC Kenan-Flagler.
Not only that, but it gave her the hard skills she needed to then take these skills to a big company, where this change could be amplified.
“I don’t think I ever would have gotten an interview at McKinsey or a place like it without going to business school,” she says.
From interview preparation to networking to the sheer number of new skills she learned, Guttman says UNC Kenan-Flagler made her career pivot possible, and that her experience gave her more confidence to succeed in business.
“I do think that the sustainability capstone and Pride Club pushed me to think about how to make an impact in the business world in a way that still feels very personally meaningful,” she says.
Just as she was surprised when she arrived at business school, so too has working at McKinsey exceeded Guttman’s expectations.
“Coming from an activist film background, I was amazed at how business schools like UNC Kenan-Flagler and companies like McKinsey are oftentimes at the forefront of diversity and inclusion,” she says.
“McKinsey recognized my marriage before the state of Georgia did,” she says. “It was never a question for me of being out, of being myself, of bringing my wife to our events – when we started our family I had no question that I would be supported by the firm. I don’t take that for granted.”
Guttman now believes that businesses have a big role in pushing the public policy agenda, and she’s proud to be part of that push at McKinsey, using tools and skills she learned at UNC Kenan-Flagler.
Guttman developed the firm’s North America’s DEI strategy, using data-driven analysis to design initiatives across recruitment, retention, advancement, satisfaction, and reach and relevance. She supports business unit senior stakeholders in their DEI strategies, including creating scorecards with key performance metrics and benchmarks, sharing best practices, and problem solving on how to embed DEI.
Internal and external stakeholders turn to Guttman to develop and implement DEI best practices. She also has co-authored research articles on inclusion on LGBTQ+ leaders, and co-founded of The Alliance, a global LGBTQ+ network of global senior executives.
This past July, she took on a new role on the global DEI team helping McKinsey’s European region with their DEI strategy. For her new role, she moved back to Israel where she’s particularly excited to be doing DEI work, a place with its own unique DEI challenges.
“To be doing this kind of work in a place that’s such a big part of my identity is really meaningful,” she says. “I hope to grow in my career here and continue to publish research and speak up and use the platform of business to make positive systemic change.”
Editor’s note: Guttman shares her journey during Pride Shabbat with Temple Emanuel Greensboro in this video. In this podcast, she discusses her research on how companies can make meaningful progress for LGBTQ+ employees.