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Meet the Boston Consulting Group’s MBA Class of 2020: Lucy Xiao-Vance

Lucy Xiao-Vance

BCG Office: Chicago

Hometown: Sydney/Wuhan

MBA Program, Concentration: INSEAD

Undergraduate school, major: University of Sydney, Biomedical Engineering

Focus of current case/engagement: Define a total shareholder return strategy for an insurance company  

Why did you choose BCG? I warmed up to the idea of management consulting (and to BCG in particular) because of the consultants I met in business school. I became great friends with many of them as I realized we shared so much in common: an insatiable curiosity, an interest in solving difficult problems, a zeal to change the status quo for the better, an adventurous spirit, and a desire to travel the world. I felt so “at home” with this group that I decided BCG was exactly where I belonged.

What did you love about the business school you attended? INSEAD allowed me to reinvent myself while building a foundation of being comfortable with wading through uncharted waters. It is also a unique place where there is no dominant nationality, helping to provide a diversity of thought. Most of what I learned during my MBA came from my classmates, whose insights were shaped by their formative years in different parts of the world. The diverse geographic and professional backgrounds taught them all a different and unique way of thinking compared to mine. These differences led to friendly clashes, and the more we sparred with each other, the more we understood each other and learned new perspectives. INSEAD also prohibited us from disclosing our grades, which further instilled an environment of cooperation over competition.

BCG’s purpose is “unlocking the potential of those who advance the world.” What has BCG unlocked in you? For me, BCG has unlocked the freedom and confidence to continuously redefine myself as I help businesses redefine their future. In a world where the only certainty is uncertainty and the only constant is change, most of us will have to adapt to new technologies, rules, roles, and careers. I cannot think of a better training ground than BCG as it provides the support and encouragement needed to satiate my curiosity for various industries, topic areas, project types, and working styles. At BCG, I have had the privilege of working at the forefront of what the future holds for diverse businesses. These experiences have expanded my personal skillset and grown my confidence in navigating new challenges.

What was your greatest personal or professional accomplishment and how did you make a difference? My proudest professional moment was when I had the opportunity to support women entrepreneurs in South Africa in their efforts to drive access to affordable healthcare across disadvantaged communities. It was my first real case experience at INSEAD. Our client was Unjani, a non-profit in South Africa with a mission of empowering nurses to become entrepreneurs by setting up community clinics in South Africa. Our goal was to craft a growth strategy so that Unjani could scale up quickly and effectively in order to benefit more people. My team held a workshop for these incredible women to supplement their brilliant medical training with a foundation of entrepreneurial business principles and a support network they could leverage to grow their clinics. Since then, Unjani has expanded from ~50 to ~80 clinics, and I couldn’t be prouder of their incredible work.

What word best describes BCG’s culture and give us an example of how you’ve experienced this in your day-to-day work? Diverse. BCG has an incredibly diverse culture that manifests itself in every office and group. Our diversity shows, through many nationalities, a wide range of educational and professional backgrounds, and a multitude of hobbies and interests that unite people outside of work. For example, the BCG North America Outdoor Club kept my spirits up as I worked from home throughout 2020 by enabling me to virtually ski, bike, camp, and more through my fellow club members’ photos and stories. These inspired me to take up scuba diving in early 2021. When I asked for advice, BCGers across various offices responded and shared lots of suggestions and tips to guide me through the training and certification process.

Please describe an “only at BCG” moment you’ve experienced so far. Though BCG’s work is interesting and exciting, I must admit the relationships developed and the human touch received along the way come to mind more readily. BCG’s PTO program enables teams to openly talk about their workload challenges and time off needs during a case. That way, everyone is on the same page and being productive with their work, but not overwhelmed by it. I vividly remember starting this job the week we were forced into a fully remote working model and found myself struggling to prioritize. The PTO coach, Catherine Hughes, a seasoned consultant herself, assured me: “Don’t you worry—we are BCG, and we will always figure things out, and we figure things out together!” She helped me break down my to-do list and advised me on how to communicate with my teams about my work. I still use her advice today and share it with others.

What advice would you give someone interviewing at BCG? Interviews are a great opportunity to learn more about people you will work with if you join BCG, and to help them learn about you. Case interviews are only part of the interview process, but sometimes people give that portion 100% of their focus. Be sure to thoughtfully prep for your Experience & Capabilities interview too, and make the most of the opportunity to ask your interviewer a question or two at the end.

Which manager or peer has had the biggest impact on you at BCG, and how has this person made you a better consultant? Lexi Colingham has been a great mentor and a wonderful friend. She is also a large part of the reason I landed at BCG due to the many hours she spent coaching and case prepping me. It is a huge blessing to have someone just a few months ahead of you on the consultant path who is willing to openly share the ups-and-downs along the way. When things feel challenging, talking to Lex always helps me see the light that is just a few steps ahead

A fun fact about me is…I love hiking—so much so that my enthusiasm may lead me to undersell adventures as “a casual hike.” Once when hiking with friends at Trolltunga in Norway, a mountain guard found us shivering in icy rain and led us to a cabin so we could warm up before trekking down the mountain. I did learn that if one of us had broken a leg, we would have gotten a very scenic helicopter ride. But it was only our egos that were bruised that day.

DON’T MISS: MEET THE BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP’S MBA CLASS OF 2020