Meet Bain & Company’s MBA Class Of 2018

Faye Cheng

Bain & Company Washington, DC

Hometown: Chicago, Illinois

MBA program: MIT Sloan School of Management

Undergraduate school, major: University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School)

Focus of current case: Business unit strategy for a major industrial goods and services company

Why did you choose to work at Bain? I chose Bain because of its unparalleled coaching and development. Coming out of business school, I knew I wanted to work for a company where I could not only learn from smart, driven people, but also be supported through my journey. The home office model has helped me develop strong relationships with peers and mentors who are truly invested in both my personal and professional development—at Bain and beyond.

What did you love about the business school you attended? MIT Sloan is a place for “doers”—those who don’t just talk about what they want to do, but actively build the organizations and processes that make the world better. I cheered on my classmates as they lay the foundations for their dreams; in turn, I felt supported in my own endeavors toward diversity and inclusion. Sloan is intensely collaborative—I never felt that I was operating alone or in a vacuum. In these respects, the culture of MIT Sloan aligns well with that of Bain, where we prioritize “results over reports” and make it a priority that “a Bainie never lets another Bainie fail.”

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far at Bain? The most valuable thing I’ve learned so far at Bain is that there is rarely a textbook-correct answer. Real-world data is messy and ambiguous, and a lot of what we work on is so cutting-edge that the best dataset or analysis that exists is the one we are actively helping to create. This is simultaneously daunting and empowering. As a result, it’s an integral part of the Bain process to engage across the spectrum from client stakeholders to Bain practice area experts to triangulate a viable answer. At the end of the day, the best answer is not necessarily the one that’s textbook-perfect, but rather one that is feasible and best tailored to the client’s particular needs.

Which manager or peer has had the biggest impact on you at Bain, and how has he or she made you a better consultant? Bain is truly an ecosystem, so it’s difficult to recognize just one individual who has had the greatest impact on me. To name only a few:

Akshay, my first manager, showed me situational leadership at its best. He has a rare ability to adjust his working style to extremely different personalities on a team and bring out the best in each individual, thus helping me recognize and celebrate my unique strengths.

Kim, a partner in the Chicago office, offered me incredible hands-on coaching and helped me role-play a difficult conversation that I was anxious to have. Through this process, she helped develop my growth mindset and resilience.

Pam, a partner in the DC office, is the epitome of leading with empathy and kindness. She has shown me that, with myriad flexible options, it’s possible to take many paths at Bain and that a life’s career is long, such that it’s not always an “either…or” choice but rather a “yes, and…” progression.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work for Bain? Take time to understand the purpose of the case interview. While the case has been formatted to fit within the constraints of an interview, the thought process reflects real case work. In fact, many Bain case interviews are directly based off of real projects that the interviewer has done on the job. The more you can adopt the mindset that you are working on a real problem for a real company rather than just going through the motions of an interview, the more successful you will be at both the interview as well as the job.

A fun fact about me people would be surprised to know is…I am a huge fan of public transportation and try to take it whenever I travel. During my MBA, I had the fantastic opportunity to extern with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation working for the secretary of transportation and director of innovation on strategic projects. The experience helped me gain a deeper appreciation for and understanding of public-sector work.

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