What Bain & Co. Seeks In MBA Hires

B

Bain consultants on an expedition to Antarctica to learn first-hand about the region’s fragile ecosystem

Staying on the radar is a tricky question. It’s really about building relationships with people you’re meeting over time. As I mentioned, we have the on-campus representatives who are there just about every day. And we’ll have other people who’ll come back to campus multiple times. So students should really build relationships with those folks and ask the questions they want to know, get introduced to other people, and keep in touch. Where it gets challenging

for some students is that they might interpret that as being particularly aggressive with trying to meet as many partners as possible and visit offices all around the system…and that’s not as helpful as really getting to know the firm and getting to know the consultants and managers that come to campus.

We meet a lot of students and we’re always excited about people who are a good fit for Bain. We don’t forget the people we meet. So try not to stress too much about collecting business cards and sending out dozens of emails after every event…Instead, focus on trying to have meaningful conversations, meeting people, and following up as appropriate. That tends to keep people on radar. Again, we make such a big investment in getting to know students. They’re on our radar. They probably don’t need to worry about it as much as they do.

P&Q: What types of onboarding, training and ongoing support do you provide to incoming MBAs?

Bevans: We think the training we provide is one of the areas that differentiates us from other options that students have. When you start at Bain, you go through about a week of in-office training. At the end of that training, you’ll sit down and meet with the person responsible for the consultant program. They handle your entire professional development including your staffing. And you’ll talk with them about some of the things that you’d like to accomplish or achieve during your time at Bain, whether it is through an international transfer or work in retail or getting some experience doing some financial modeling. And that person will work with you and get you staffed on opportunities and on cases that check those boxes for you over time.

A couple months into your full-time job, you’ll be sent to one of our global training programs. At NCT – New Consulting Training – all the new hires [from offices] around the world will be put into groups of four to six people. You will have a trainer who is a partner or manager and has taken off for a week to be your trainer. Over the course of that week, you’ll work through a simulated case. As part of that simulation, you’ll get to see how we do analysis, engage with clients, manage teams, and deal with tricky situations.

At the end of that week, you will have made some great relationships with at least four or five other people from different offices from across the world. And then you go back to work. What’s really neat about training is two things. One, we do that type of global training program at every level every 18 months. You get [training] when you start as a new consultant. Then, 18 months later…we’ll bring all of your peers together again and you’ll work on a different simulation case. You’ll see many of those same people – ‘Hey, didn’t we meet in Miami?’ ‘Yeah, how is it going?’ – and we’ll start building those relationships over time because we’ll see each other at different trainings.

What’s really neat for me (personally) is that I went to experience partner training a couple of years ago. And there were four of us who’d been through every training program that they’d offered starting in 1996 and all the way through. You can’t really describe the impact that those relationships have on your career. But we really are a global firm and it starts right away with our global training program.

The other thing that’s really great about our training is that we even do it for the interns. So when we have our global summer associate program running, the first thing they do when they join is they get a couple days of office training and then we bring all of our interns from all of our global offices to a single training session. And they do the same thing. Over the course of four days, they work in simulated case with a trainer. So they get a taste of what full-time training programs are like. It’s not just something we reserve for people who’ve been here five or six years. We literally start our global training with our interns. It’s a phenomenal experience and a major investment for the firm. But we feel that it’s a really good indoctrination not just into the skills but also into the culture and the global makeup of the firm that they’re a part of.

P&Q: When it comes to consulting, what are some of the biggest misconceptions that students may have about your organization (and your industry)?

Bevans: I don’t know if there are any misconceptions. Nowadays, unlike when I came out 20 years ago, there is plenty of stuff online. You can read about it and be pretty well informed.

There are three areas that come to mind. First, we really do strike an awesome balance between being a global firm with global resources and world class expertise (The types of things we’re doing today are really cutting edge) and balancing that with a home office model that allows you to be part of a community that supports, coaches, and develops you.

That balance, I think, can be hard for some students to appreciate until they experience it or talk to people who are living it. [It’s] the idea that you can be working with multinational clients and teams from around the world. But you still have that program manager thinking about that conversation [they had with you] at your first week on the job on the experience you wanted to add and the expertise you wanted to build and then helping you navigate that by the types of opportunities that the staffing process provides. The fact that we’re able to balance that so well and that you can be a successful consultant that is taking advantage of being part of a global firm with all of that experience and local support is really phenomenal. I don’t think a lot of students really think that any firm gets that as right as Bain & Company does.

The other thing that I feel some students think that probably needs to be adjusted is [the perception] that we are only looking for a specific profile. We really do hire a diverse set of people. Like I said, Bain has been growing at 15 percent per year over 20 years, which means the sheer magnitude of the number of people that we hire requires us to have a lot of different backgrounds pre business school and a lot of different degrees. We’re looking for people who are interested in working in all of our 51 offices around the world. And I think some people feel like that if they lack professional or consulting experience, that it’s really a long shot and that we wouldn’t be interested in someone with their background. The reality is, our clients are made up of a very diverse pool of executives. And part of the value they bring to the table is diversity of thought.