And the third thing we look for is leadership. The question we’re testing there is, ‘Can they make things happen?’ A good example would be someone who is a leader or officer in a student organization that’s been responsible for delivering an event, a conference or interfacing with companies where ‘life happens,’ where a caterer doesn’t show up and they have to figure out what to do next and how to compensate for that. Or, there is an issue with transportation and the speaker is going to be running late. Basically, have they demonstrated the ability to roll with the punches, compensate, and improvise in real time?
Demonstrating those three things happen to be the core part of what we do, having the analytic horsepower to get the job done; being able to connect with people in a professional setting on a personal basis; and then being accountable and knowing that, no matter what, you have to improvise, you have to get things done despite the unavoidable challenges.
That, at a high level, is what we look for. Keep in mind, it’s also important to show that they are passionate about something that they’re doing. That might be a hobby that they’re doing or a project that they’ve done professionally. One of the things that’s really a signature characteristic of everyone at Bain is that they are passionate about life, their work, and, their hobbies. When I think about the people I see working at Bain, they tend to have that kind of passion and it comes out loud-and-clear in their resumes as well.
P&Q: What types of clubs or extracurriculars do you see as particularly valuable [for MBAs]?
Bevans: What I would say is back to [third] point: The extracurricular itself is somewhat important, but it’s not as important as the experience and the leadership role that they play in those organizations. It’s about building your experience and your track record of actually getting things done. So, for example, you might have a student who’s a member of 20 clubs and say ‘Wow! [they’re] really involved in everything on campus!’ But they’re so superficial in what they’re doing within each of those clubs that it almost becomes a fruitless endeavor for them. What we like to see are students who are committed and passionate about certain things and are getting a lot of experience with the clubs and extracurriculars that they choose to do. It’s about learning to engage with people and having that passion for something. It’s not specific clubs we’re looking for as much as being committed to something and committed to making it successful and having an impact in whatever club they join.
P&Q: What kinds of skills does Bain anticipate needing in the coming years that you may not possess enough of now (Languages, Technical Skills, etc.)?
Bevans: One of the things that’s a challenge for my team is, as we continue to grow at 15 percent a year for what’s coming up on 20 years, the underlying need for talent has continued to grow. As the market has continued to evolve, we are looking for at different sets of skills like the language abilities you mentioned…At a high level, one of the things that we are looking for is MBAs who are truly global citizens. What I mean by that: They think globally about problems; that they recognize that businesses are global so they recognize customers are truly different around the world.
[For example], they realize that working with one organization that has manufacturing in different countries actually has subtle nuances in how they communicate and how they think about risk, doing business, and thinking creatively to solve problems. The challenge for us is continuing to find enough people who can really think globally about problems [that] their clients are trying to solve and engage them in not just the country they choose to join us in but in any one of our 51 offices around the world. We need people who think about what it’s like to do business in the other 50. That’s becoming more of a requirement than I think it was in the past and something that will increase as time goes on. And that’s different to me than saying, ‘I’m looking from somebody who can speak different languages or knows particular technical tools.’ It is about saying, ‘I need people with a mindset that’s truly global.’ That’s where we spend a lot of our time thinking about now.
Back to your resume point, it’s more than just saying that you’ve been to 50 cities or traveled to five continents. What we’re talking about is way deeper than that. We’re talking about people who really understand cultural differences and are tuned in to recognizing and understanding how it affects how we engage as team and how we think about problems as a team.
P&Q: What advice would you give to students who have their hearts set on working for you? How can they enhance their job prospects?
Bevans: Despite all of our growth, we still want to encourage people to apply and get to know us throughout the process. There are a couple pieces of advice that I give to people.
[First], we are continuing to grow and attract people. But we still need to attract as many great candidates as we can find. A further thing I would say is really take the time to really get to know Bain. We’re one of the most recognizable companies in the world. The problems that we’re solving for our clients are what you’re reading about in the media. But we have a sense of humility that sometimes understates just how transformational the work that we’re doing is. As you get to meet more people from Bain, when you join some of the webinars and live events that we’re doing on different MBA campuses, I encourage students to not just hear the presentations. Ask questions, get to know the individual, and get to know what he or she is working on. That will get them a better appreciation of the type of challenges we’re solving and why we’re getting so excited about the results we’re getting for our clients.