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Case Team Leader, Atlanta
I've worked for companies where they talk about their support of advancement, but this is the first time where I have consistently seen that support played out every day in the actions of company leadership.
I interviewed with several firms, and Bain made by far the best impression. At that time I was determined to move back to Seattle after business school, and Bain did not have an office there, but I decided to go ahead and take a summer internship; my logic was that internships are meant to be an opportunity to explore something that you may never do again. Of course, once I actually experienced what it's like to work at Bain I was completely hooked, and we decided to move to Atlanta.
People talk about the "work hard, play hard" culture at Bain for a reason; you will never have more fun doing something so incredibly challenging. However, even more important to me is the fact that Bain truly is a meritocracy. What matters is delivering for the client and supporting the rest of the team, period. I have never run in to the kinds of "office politics" that I had experienced at other companies, and I have never worked anywhere with this level of support for its employees.
After a seriously frustrating week at my old job, I came up with a list of my top criteria for any job that I would take in the future (written on an airplane napkin). The top 3 were: continuous opportunities to learn, a chance to do lots of cross-disciplinary work, and encouragement to be creative. This job is amazing for all three.
Outside of the office my fundamental passion is making sure that I am building a balanced life. This includes everything from date nights with my husband, hiking and ballet on weekends, or just being able to show up for a friend that really needs me. If I had a job that left me drained and dispirited every day, I couldn't put that kind of energy into my life. Working for Bain has allowed me to live the kind of life that I want to live.
Bain has specific, actionable measures in place to make sure our professional responsibilities don't become all-consuming, and I've found that nine times out of ten my time spent on our projects tends to inspire me and enhance my enjoyment of life, rather than being an obstacle that I am working against-sadly common in so many of the other jobs out there.
My favorite case
My favorite recent case would be my rotation through our Private Equity Group (PEG). In seven months I worked on diligences of target companies within automatic industrial lubrication, supply chain management software, automotive filters, emergency first responder communications, HD and 3D television production equipment, and urgent care medical clinics. I have never learned so much in my life. Our team dynamic was amazing; after spending hours together every day I would still gladly meet up with any of them for drinks or dinner over the weekend.
The amazing thing about a PEG rotation is that you get to see Bain at its best. We use all of the tools used for clients in general practice, but applied in an incredibly disciplined way and incredibly rapidly. You have to achieve "expert status" on an industry that you've never heard of by the end of the first week. There isn't time for extra work or meaningless analysis; everything is "at cause" and immediately relevant. Getting an opportunity to create that kind of impact is pretty rare.
My personal results story
I recently had a case where we worked with our client to build a new business from the bottom up. They wanted to expand into a sector adjacent to their core business, but they weren't sure how. When we started working with them they were considering dozens of options and had trouble developing internal consensus. We helped them to narrow down to the single best option, and after that work was done they asked us to stay on to flesh out the business further. We helped to develop their value proposition, their specific offering to the new market, their pricing strategy, marketing materials, target customer profiles, etc. You name it, we helped with it, including performing a diligence on a multimillion dollar asset that they purchased as part of the new strategy.
The biggest source of pride for me was the moment about 8 months into the work when our main client map turned to us and said straight out, "I could never have done this without your support." Getting that kind of feedback is what working here is all about.
A final thought
Even if you don't see yourself in the consulting industry long term, choose an employer as if you will be there for 20 years. You may find after starting that this career is something that you can see yourself doing for a very long time.
That said, pay attention to how you are treated during interviews. I had a second-round interview where the partner stared out the window the entire time, checked his email repeatedly, and clearly considered recruiting a waste of his time. I later heard from a friend that the office developed terrible employee retention rates due to problems with workload and burn-out. If a company can't even show you respect as an applicant, what does that say about the value it places on its employees? You don't want to work somewhere that treats employees as disposable assets with a 2 year shelf life. It can be easy to lose sight of during the recruiting season, but you are a valuable asset. Make sure you don't sell yourself short or settle for something that is a poor fit. Life is too short to hate your job.