Meet the Boston Consulting Group’s MBA Class of 2020: Varun Hippalgaonkar

Varun Hippalgaonkar

BCG Office: New York City

Hometown: Orlando, Florida

MBA Program, Concentration: Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business; Health Sector Management

Undergraduate school, major: Duke University; Public Policy

Focus of current case/engagement: Launch excellence strategy for a leading multinational biopharma company

Why did you choose BCG?I chose BCG because of its focus on people development. I was fortunate to have a diverse career before business school, which made me acutely aware of my strengths and weaknesses. As I thought about where I wanted to take my career next, I prioritized firms that were going to be committed to supporting both my personal and professional development goals. Throughout the recruiting process, the team from BCG spoke at great length about its commitment to people development and I’ve been able to experience it first-hand as an intern and now full-time consultant through the informal mentorship and formalized resources

What did you love about the business school you attended? The professors. Fuqua has fantastic professors who are not just great instructors, but also incredible researchers and practitioners. Despite their intimidating accomplishments, they are all incredibly approachable and committed to their students.

BCG’s purpose is “unlocking the potential of those who advance the world.” What has BCG unlocked in you? BCG has unlocked a comfort with discomfort. As BCG consultants, we often get to work on a variety of the most complex and challenging problems facing our clients across industries, topic areas, and geographies. This means that we are often solving problems where don’t have a playbook. Admittedly, it can be nerve-racking to ramp up on what feel like completely foreign topics and be tasked with developing high quality solutions. However, BCG has helped me realize that, with a supportive team, this discomfort and anxiety can transform into excitement and fun.

What was your greatest personal or professional accomplishment and how did you make a difference? Being a part of a start-up company from inception to exit. I was incredibly fortunate that early in my career I was able to help start a digital health company with two very successful healthcare entrepreneurs. During that time, I wore many hats across functions. Early on, I was simultaneously a product manager, salesperson, and support specialist. But as the company grew, I led sales, marketing, and business development. I learned a lot from the experience about grit and determination and experienced the incredible highs and lows of entrepreneurship. Overall, I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish as a team.

What word best describes BCG’s culture and give us an example of how you’ve experienced this in your day-to-day work? Collaborative. One of my favorite things about BCG is learning from other people on my case teams. As a first-year consultant, the senior team members are always willing to discuss topics and approaches to a problem with thoughtfulness and patience. But what I have been most impressed by is the countless times where the most senior partner on the case will genuinely seek out the perspective of the most junior member of the team to learn about how they are thinking about the problem.

Please describe an “only at BCG” moment you’ve experienced so far: When I was a summer intern, I was on an intense case helping a company with a turnaround strategy. After sending out the final materials for a steering committee meeting, the team decided that we were going to enjoy a beautiful Chicago summer afternoon and grab gelato by the river. While we were sitting there, I had the realization that none of us were from the same country. The two to my left were from Brazil and China, while the two to my right were from Thailand and Switzerland. When I called it out, the resounding response from the team was “this is pretty common at BCG.” I don’t know of many other workplaces where you get to regularly have moments like that.

What advice would you give someone interviewing at BCG? Try your best to relax and enjoy the process. If you’re having fun, your interviewers are more likely to enjoy it too.

Which manager or peer has had the biggest impact on you at BCG, and how has this person made you a better consultant? My manager, Will Pickering, was incredibly impactful. He was thoughtful and deliberate when choosing opportunities to coach and teach. He led by example to foster an environment where we all felt we could be open, honest, and vulnerable with each other. He made me a better consultant by giving me the freedom to make mistakes. Learning from mistakes helps me build confidence and make the job more rewarding.

A fun fact about me is…It took me until 3rd grade to learn how to spell my last name. Embarrassing, I know. But I’m really good at it now.


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