We’re in the middle of recruiting season here at Bain, and everyone from Associate Consultants to Partners are crossing the country to visit partner schools for first round interviews. Now being on ‘the inside’, its fascinating to see just how much effort is put in by the organization to the process, from developing and testing case interviews to reviewing resumes. Bain takes finding and developing its talent very seriously. It has been said a hundred times before, but its people are the lifeblood of Bain.
One of the questions often asked at recruiting events is ‘what sort of person is Bain looking for?’. My answer is that there is no typical answer! What matters is much less what experience you did, and much more how you approached it, what you actually did, what impact you had and what you got out of it for next time. That can be a great story if you are a high school history teacher, a CEO of a startup, a banker, or anything else you can think of: it is all what you make of it, and how you share it with others.
When you share your stories and experiences in an interview, its vital to think about the three buzzwords of ‘People, Passion, Results’. Sure, these sound obvious – who wouldn’t want to work with nice, driven people? But it goes far, far deeper than that: these three concepts represent the very core of Bain’s DNA. Everything we do from the first day to the last on a case somewhere, somehow revolves around these three concepts.
The very best of luck to candidates over these coming weeks!
It has been a couple of weeks since I last blogged. The reason is my current case has been racing ahead. The first few weeks to month of a case tend to be the busiest, since everyone, from AC to partner, is trying to build up their knowledge on the client and problem as fast as possible.
Bain is unique amongst the top firms in so far as it believes in longer term relationships with clients are the key to unlocking true value for them on a consistent basis – and my current client is no exception. This means that the ‘ramp up’ is a little less about fact-gathering and more about building early insights and understanding opportunities for investigation.
Our team has been flat-out hypothesizing about the different ways we can help our client – a telecoms firm with operations across the US – to understand what its best markets are, and why that is the case. The hypothesizing is important: we have a mountain of data at our fingertips, and we need to think about the most probable pathways for analysis. Of course, that is only the start: as we learn more, we might adjust the hypotheses – its just a great way to having focus and narrowing down onto the most important issues.
Things have cooled off a little now, and we are actively out in the field of the client’s operations talking to employees and customers on the ground. Some of my case colleagues are visiting places as far removed from each other as Oklahoma, Maine and Oregon. On the other hand, I am staying in Chicago helping build out a statistical model – perhaps not quite as exciting, but nevertheless an important angle to help prove out the emerging recommendations we have built!
A large part of any case work at Bain is not just finding the answers, but also ensuring that the client understands them, buys into what they mean, and implements them. It feels like the right thing to do: if clients make a big investment in engaging Bain to help them with a key problem, we should do everything in our power to make sure they get the benefit of it, not just some slides or spreadsheets that may not get looked at again. Because of this focus, we have had a considerable number of meetings with the senior leaders of the firm going through our insights and telling them why they are vital to solving the underlying problem. This helps them to share the ownership of the solution early.
Bain has just said goodbye to its cohort of summer interns after an eventful summer: lots of work, and lots of fun too.
The summer intern experience is one that many MBA students go through, but I think Bain has a unique approach to it. Interns get allocated onto a range of cases, but we try hard to make sure it’s something that is representative of typical Bain work. We also arrange a host of different social events ranging from a day at the races, to a relaxing weekend trip to the lake. This is so interns can meet as many different people in the office as possible, so they themselves can truly know whether Bain is the right place for them.
On my current case, we had two MBA interns and one undergrad intern join our team for ten weeks. My client, a telecoms company looking at the relative performance of a number of its different operating units, needed help understanding how to maximize the profit from their underperforming units: close them, or change their operating model? This was the focus of the interns work: something tangible and valuable to the client’s future. They got involved in all aspects of the work: from client management to presenting insights to senior Bain team members.
We had a lot of good fun, too. My favorite moment was the ‘Managers and Partners v. Summer Interns’ annual volleyball game on the beachfront in downtown Chicago. The interns clubbed together in the week leading up to the big game, making a video Top Gun-style challenging the opposition to bring their big guns to the game. I can’t even remember who won in the end – Bain is all about collaboration than competition!
We finished the summer with a final dinner recapping all the crazy moments of the previous ten weeks. The whole of the Bain Chicago office was sad to see the interns go, but we have our fingers crossed that we will see a lot of them again full-time.