Senior Associate Consultant, Johannesburg
The externship allowed me to truly see how broadly applicable the tools that we use at Bain are.
I joined Bain because of the dynamic people and the ongoing learning that I knew would come with the job. I was excited to see how many of the structured problem-solving skills I had acquired in engineering could apply in business, particularly since I had very little prior exposure to the private business sector. I was also drawn to the externship program that Bain sets up, which offers the risk-free opportunity to spend six months away from Bain applying consulting skills to a field of interest. Last year, I participated in this program and worked with TechnoServe to provide support to agricultural businesses in Swaziland. The externship allowed me to truly see how broadly applicable the tools that we use at Bain are. Some parts of the job just came down to being resourceful, too, and I realized how valuable Bain's encouragement of creativity in problem solving can be.
Bain's focus on results and "getting stuff done" is exciting to me, particularly because I believe that this mindset is undervalued in development work. I am very interested in understanding how building sustainable businesses, even at a basic level, can improve the quality of life for a community. Not only does Bain teach skills that are relevant to this field, but Bain employees are committed to applying these skills to socially minded causes as an "extra 10%" of their time. In my three years at Bain, I have been able to work with teams of other Associate Consultants to provide strategic assistance to Kiva (a large microfinance organization), a Boston-area school system, and a small non-profit focused on bringing sport to girls in Jordan. These projects, and many others like them, all have been completed on top of day-to-day case work.
In addition to the admirable application of Bain skills to non-profit work, I am continuously energized by the translation of teamwork from the office to the athletic field. I have adopted Bain's passion for sport, particularly soccer, and have enthusiastically played on Bain soccer teams and in the Bain World Cup. Nothing defines Bain's culture more than BWC: bringing teams from all over the world to play soccer together for a weekend is indicative of our commitment to teamwork and fun.
My favorite case
I'm still diving back into case work following my return from externship in Swaziland, but I worked on a great piece to sell work to a retailer recently. We wanted to illustrate the growth opportunities that the company had through the customer's perspective, so we spent time interviewing the potential client's customers (and individuals who seemed out of place in the stores!) to find out what they did and didn't like about shopping there. From that information, we were able to raise important questions around the business's future path and direct a thought-provoking conversation with the business's leadership team. As a bonus, I learned a lot about video production and how to create effective messages through media when we put together videos from the interviews that we conducted.
My personal results story
On my most recent case, I had the challenging task of analyzing the employee base and structure of a large corporation. Unfortunately, the database of employees was less than accurate, and there were challenges with accessing the data. Together with a first-year AC, I built a strong relationship with the team that managed the employee data and was able to develop an accurate picture of the employee base at the client, something that the company itself had not been able to do in quite some time. This information was critical in helping the Board understand how the organization had changed over time and led to the development of programs to improve overall efficiency and customer service of across the company.
My perspective on diversity at Bain
Bain attracts a variety of employees, all of whom have a few things in common: they are smart, motivated, and interesting individuals. Beyond identifying these characteristics, I have difficulty describing what defines a Bainie succinctly because of the variety of backgrounds and perspectives that are represented in each office and across the firm. I have been challenged by my peers who think differently from me, but still feel comfortable presenting my point of view on work and non-work related topics. This openness is refreshing.
I was a bit nervous to begin work in business as a woman directly out of college, but was immediately welcomed by Bain's supportive environment for women. Initiatives and programs are available for women at varying points in their careers. In both Sydney and Boston, women's networking is an important part of the professional experience. More experienced female colleagues have been open about the challenges that they have faced, and many of them have become great mentors and friends to me. I have been encouraged by the role models that I have in the office as I try to find the ideal work-life balance.
A final thought
Bain's flexibility continues to amaze me. While there is quite a bit of structure to the AC program in the US, the emphasis on professional development and the sincere hope that ACs will enjoy the job mean that I have had a significant opportunity to shape my experience. From externing in Swaziland to transferring to Australia, I have had a broad range of opportunities. I've learned a lot on the job and just from time with my colleagues, making this an unbeatable first step post-university.