Macon Sheppard ‘15 came to Friends in fall of 2006, along with his brothers, Owen Sheppard ‘17 and Grant Sheppard ‘19. At Friends, Macon was involved in the H. Fletcher Brown Boys and Girls Club after-school program, the World Affairs Club, the football team, and (briefly) the Model Organization of American States. After graduating from WFS, Macon studied at Georgetown University, where he majored in International Relations and minored in Arabic and Economics. At Georgetown, Macon was involved with the Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, and he studied abroad in Amman, Jordan in the summer of 2017. In August of 2019, Macon moved to Dubai to join McKinsey and Company as a Business Analyst in their Middle East Office. When he has free time, he enjoys exploring the city with friends, traveling, and making a fool of himself in foreign languages.
How did you choose a career in consulting?
Moving to Dubai to start my career in management consulting made sense to me, because it felt like the natural intersection of my professional, academic, and personal interests.
From a professional standpoint, I wanted to begin my career in a role where I would be exposed to various industries and have the chance to solve cool problems on a large scale. I knew that consulting would allow me to do so across a wide range of topics—that flexibility really appealed to me.
Academically speaking, Arabic had fascinated me since freshman year of college, and I was looking for an opportunity to combine that passion with my other coursework in economics and political science. After speaking to some grad school classmates who had just returned from similar jobs abroad, I realized that targeting consulting roles in the Middle East would combine a lot of these different threads that interested me.
Finally, the prospect was exciting on a very personal level, because the idea of spending time outside the States, immersed in other regions and cultures, had always intrigued me. I knew that moving here and joining a global company would give me the opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and travel extensively. (Covid notwithstanding, of course!)
What are your current interests and passions?
I am kept pretty occupied during the week, but on the weekend, I enjoy exploring the city and region with friends. This part of the world is full of interesting people, great food, and more natural beauty than one might expect (at least, from the false American stereotype of the Middle East).
Learning languages is still a passion of mine as well, and I try to find opportunities to practice and refine my Arabic while I am in Dubai. Due to the large population of South Asian immigrants, I have also been attempting to learn some Hindi—minimal success so far, but many funny looks!
On my own, I try to preserve my love of reading (which was supported at WFS’s fantastic English department). Finally, I decide to start running about every six weeks. (Every seventh week, I give up and restart the cycle...)
What is life like these days in Dubai?
The Emirati government has done a commendable job controlling the spread of COVID-19 and rolling out vaccinations to the population. Therefore, I feel fortunate that we have been out of lockdown for far longer than many parts of the States. While late-night entertainment options are still quite limited, the beautiful beaches and weather are very welcome after our strict quarantine last spring.
The local economy suffered an initial downturn because of its reliance on tourism, but the city has bounced back well. Dubai has cleverly leveraged its rapid vaccination progress, and its proximity to locked-down Europe, to keep tourism numbers high and cases low. (Lots of Brits “on holiday” here this winter!)
How did the WFS language and program prepare you for college? For your career?
The WFS language department did an excellent job of immersing us in the culture of the languages we studied, instead of just forcing us to memorize by rote. This was evident across the curriculum: from the high school trip to France, to the entertaining movies we watched in Ms. Bulk’s class (La Femme Nikita is still a personal favorite). Throughout our years at WFS, the department went out of its way to show us that the languages we studied were more than dry collections of words—they were doorways to new art, people, and opportunities that would otherwise remain inaccessible to our little corner of the world.
What are your favorite WFS memories?
One clear highlight was the language department-sponsored trip to France, where Ms. Bulk was brave enough to chaperone about a dozen rising juniors from Paris to Aix-en-Provence. The exposure I received on that trip, and the friendships I formed, definitely influenced me to more seriously consider the possibility of living outside the States when I was older.
Other highlights of my time at WFS include Miller Advisory “Meeting for Worship,” discussions in Ms. Kenney’s English class, and goofing around at football practice. Beyond that, in the nine years I spent at WFS, I had too many great memories to count. Friends School is a special place, and it has left an indelible mark on the person I am today.