If an MBA was weighing an offer from BCG and another firm, what would give you the edge?
We offer very competitive comp and benefits. We’re also fiercely proud of our company culture. We prize the depth of experience and encourage an entrepreneurial spirit that challenges the status quo and helps people constantly innovate, get better and lead. We’ve been in the top five for Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” for three years in a row. That is an incredibly rare accomplishment and one we are exceedingly proud of because, to be in the top of that list, you need to excel in all dimensions of what makes a company a great place to work…Fortune evaluates us on whether or not we offer opportunities for growth and development, our company culture, how we enable employees to pursue their passions and have an impact that also benefits business model. As demonstrated by the fact that we are in the top ranking year-after-year, we truly excel in these areas that make a company a great place to work.
Our business model is geared to helping top talent reach their full potential. All of our people processes – staffing, training, career development, mobility – are designed to help people develop capabilities and grow professionally and personally. Our apprenticeship approach is another really core part of the BCG experience. Our senior levels stay very, very close to the junior teams and their work and to teach them through on-the-job coaching and mentorship. The idea of the apprenticeship model, where the senior partners interact with the consultants, the most junior members of the team, day-in-and-day-out, to help guide them, nurture their development, and push their thinking to help us get to an answer is incredibly differentiated.
We’re also distinguished by having an open and transparent culture that really is a meritocracy, with a high level of trust, respect, and partnership. And there’s something that just pervades our culture is humility and a desire to help people succeed. It’s not about our individual success. It’s about the power of the collective, helping our team succeed and helping our client succeed that is so central to what we do. It’s so incredibly motivating to be part of a team and culture where we succeed as a collective and harness the power of that collective…There’s tremendous power to bringing people from such diverse backgrounds, capabilities and skills and to use that diversity to attack a problem and fuel innovation to deliver results for our clients. It is so invigorating to be part of that kind of environment.
And it really leads to a high performance organization. If you look at our track record, be it the consistently high rankings like the Fortune Best Places to Work or our track record for delivering sustained double digit compound growth for the last 50 years, our success is virtually unmatched, not just in the consulting world but in the business world more broadly defined. Again, it starts with our people, culture and our focus on finding the best and then unleashing their potential and helping them develop and grow. That’s our secret sauce.
Could you give us an overview of your MBA recruiting and interview process? What are the steps that students should expect? How can they make a good impression and stay on your radar?
We have a period that we call a ‘get-to-know-us’ phase, where we spend a lot of time on campus to give you the opportunity to meet with employees and understand what it’s like to work at BCG, what the culture feels like, to understand their experiences and to get to know us as a firm.
In the first part of the process, we’ll have a variety of functions, whether they be big presentations or one-on-one coffee chats between candidates and BCGers from the office in which they’re interested. And then there’s everything in between, from cocktail receptions to women’s events to other sub-affinity groups. They’re designed for you to get exposure to many types of BCG employees and build connections. So we encourage people to attend [these events], meet people, ask questions, get to know us, and do their research online.
And that leads up to the application process. If you’re invited to interview, that process will typically involve two rounds of interviews, where you’ll meet with BCGers from a variety of hierarchies and experience levels, whether it be experienced consultants all the way up through partners. What we try to do is give you an opportunity to get to know us and ask questions, along with giving you exposure to people from different backgrounds.
In the [first round] phase, we’ll hold two interviews that’ll generally happen on campus. If you’re invited back for a final round, that’ll usually happen within a week of the first round interviews. Sometimes, those final rounds are held on campus, but often times they’re held at the office for which you’re interviewing. And that’s a great opportunity for you to come in, see the physical space where we work every day, and visualize what it might be like to work at BCG. And the [final round phase] is another two to three interviews, typically with partners or experienced principals.
If you get an offer, what we will then do is give you a team of folks that will help you answer whatever questions you may have. So the tables are turned and you are now evaluating us…What we do then is give you somebody who can help you navigate [the process] and meet the people who faced similar decisions. [We’ll bring you] into the office. We have what we call welcome weekends, where you come in with all the others who are considering offers from BCG to meet with a broader subset of people in the office and have a variety of informational sessions as well as social settings for you to get a feel for if this is a place you’d want to make a career.
What are your expectations for entry level MBAs? What are your most successful new hires doing to hit the ground running and quickly add value?
Everyone at BCG – and one of the things we tell people in the recruiting process, but I’m not sure everyone believes this then – is that we expect everybody to have a voice and a seat at the table and to contribute their ideas actively to the projects they’ve been assigned to.
We expect people to listen, learn, and engage actively – and to mobilize the resources around them to help solve the problem at hand. The thing that’s unique about consulting, as opposed to other careers, is that there’s no manual. When you start, we don’t say, ‘here’s step one, step two, step three.’ Every problem is different. As a result of that, you have to learn; it’s an apprenticeship business. You learn by getting experience and figuring out how to tackle the problem.
So you need to… ask questions and be able to ask for help. Be willing to admit what you don’t know. And that’s a lesson [asking for help] that I find MBAs having a little bit more trouble than some of the undergraduates we hire. Because I think that there’s a reluctance, particularly for people we hire who’ve already been tremendously successful, to acknowledge that they may not know something. They need to be willing to ask for help or ask a question. They may view it as a sign of weakness when, in fact, not asking the question is a bigger mistake. So I encourage people to use all of their resources –their peers, advisors, mentors, training resources and knowledge management. Our culture is geared to help you succeed. You just have to be willing to seek out that help.