Bain & Co. Boasts Big-Time B-School Reach

If you’re planning to get an MBA at an elite school, it helps to have Bain & Co. in your background.

The consulting giant’s reach into the ranks of the top business schools has never been a question, but now with the help of an online tool at Bain’s website we have greater insight into how many Bain-ites are enrolled where. And that’s how we know that Bain is a big-time boost for would-be MBA seekers — at least at the elite schools.

How big a boost? Consider Harvard Business School, where 38 former Bain consultants and another 29 former summer associates are members of the HBS Class of 2018 that graduates soon. According to Bain’s careers site and data collected by Poets&Quants, that means 67 of the 942-person class of 2018 once worked for Bain & Co., meaning about 7% of the class are Bain alumni. Since 15% of Harvard’s class of 2018 had a background in consulting, roughly half were from Bain.


Bain’s alum-finding tool doesn’t always yield the most detailed results, however — and in some cases, the results are downright misleading. For the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Bain lists 51 names but doesn’t say which class they belong to. Assuming they are Class of 2018, that would mean about 6% of Wharton’s 851 students in the class had Bain backgrounds — impressive considering that 23% of the entire class came from consulting. But what if they aren’t Class of 2018 numbers?

Or look at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, which has 31 Bain alums in a class of 474, which calculates to about 6.5%. But in the next year’s class, according to Bain, Kellogg has only 11 Bain alums. That’s a severe drop-off — or is the list incomplete? Likewise, some schools show no names. Are we to believe that UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, for example, or UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business admitted no one in 2016 or 2017 with a Bain background?

So the tool is incomplete at best. But for a select few schools, it can be very illuminating. At Stanford Graduate School of Business, for example, there are 33 Bain alums in the Class of 2018 (including five former summer associates). That’s about 8% of the estimated 417 students in that class — an impressive total. And all the more impressive considering only 6% of 2016 applicants to Stanford were admitted.


One thing we know for sure about Bain is that for a consulting firm, its interest in MBAs is growing fast. The firm hires hundreds of consultants out of B-school every year — but now, as tech companies become more attractive destinations for more newly minted MBAs, traditional destinations like banks and consulting firms have had to step up and change their game. Bain is leading the way, becoming one of the top five recruiters at Stanford, where it competes with Apple and Google for talent.

As a number of traditional MBA-hiring firms learn that high salaries and benefits aren’t enough to win over MBAs anymore, Bain has launched a number of recruiting initiatives in recent years to try and attract more MBA talent. The company has an entire blog, known as Bain Voices, dedicated to Bain employees discussing their passions. And Bain is focused on differentiating itself from other consulting firms through programs like “Connect with Bain,” which is dedicated to building upfront relationships where prospective Bain applicants can talk with Bain employees.

“It’s a chance for them to meet with the people from Bain and, more importantly, get to hear about the type of the work that we’re doing and get a sense for what the industry is and what type of work Bain does,” a Bain executive told P&Q not long ago. “We’re not interviewing people during those sessions or anything like that. But it’s a good chance for them to plant the seed in their mind that this could be an exciting career for them post-MBA.”


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.