9:00 A.M. DANCE PARTY
The Class of 2020 wasn’t the first to have their BCG moment. Brian Myerholtz, a managing director and partner, joined the firm in 2003 after earning his MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth College. His favorite moment came at the conclusion of a three year client engagement. It started with Myerholtz convincing the client to give BCG a shot. It ended, he says, with his team helping them fundamentally change their corporate direction. At a dinner celebrating these achievements, Myerholtz proudly reflected on the time his team shared with this client.
“It was a client I helped develop and led,” he tells P&Q. “It was a large team of wonderful people. There was a massive amount of impact. When I looked around the room, these were some of my closest friends inside of work as well. When you ask what gets me out of bed in the morning, I get to solve really interesting and difficult problems with a fantastic group of people that I’m proud to call friends.”
That sense of camaraderie is an extension of business school for Myerholtz. He can recall his final day at Tuck, where he joined classmates in skiing in the morning, hitting a microbrewery for lunch, and playing 18 holes of golf in the afternoon. Maggie Orr can also relate to the sense of community found in both business school and BCG. A 2013 Harvard MBA who is now a managing partner and director, Orr still remembers one morning break between classes where her section truly came together.
“Someone put on some music,” she reminisces. “We all ended up in the classroom dancing — a little mini dance party at 9:00 a.m. in a classroom. It was section mates doing that and [it reflected] the bonds we were able to build six months into school. Whenever I hear that song [Rihanna’s “We Found Love”], I still smile.”
“EXACTLY WHERE I BELONGED”
That spirit has carried over to BCG, whose consultants have come together to form several office rock bands. In fact, the firm even sponsored a rock band competition during the pandemic, with teams recording studio songs and shooting music videos to be judged by their peers. Looking back Myerholtz and Orr don’ just reminisce about the good times in business school. Both trumpet the “foundational skills” they gained there, with Orr citing the ability to conduct “fast analysis” and “hone in quickly” to what really matters most. For Myerholtz, the team structure changed how he approached issues.
“It was really interesting seeing an engineer, an economist, a marine, and a marketing guy coming together to solve a strategy problems together. It really opened my eyes on the diversity of backgrounds and how that really gets to a more creative solution.”
This commitment to team and diversity carries over to BCG and creates one of its biggest differentiators. Alejandra Ramirez loves how she can reach out to peers “in the team room or any place in the world” when she needs to brainstorm or get second opinions. In fact, Lucy Xiao-Vance credits the BCGers she met as the reason she chose management consulting as her post-MBA career.
“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.”
BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER
That sense of community is carefully curated at BCG. In Chicago, Brian Myerholtz helped design the office to “bring people together and create collisions and opportunities to engage together.” One way Myerholtz does this is through coffee, placing different gourmet coffees in various stations across the office.
“It makes people get up from their floor, walk to a different floor, [and] spend five minutes making coffee,” Myerholtz observes. “They’ll run into three other people in the café while they are there and chat and connect. The quality of the coffee is fantastic because I hand select it. We are very mindful of how we bring people together and build those bonds organically over time.”
Those bonds are deepened through mentorship. Consciously, BCGers work to impart best practices and personify cultural values. More than that, they act as a safety net to ensure the success of new hires. In the Seattle office, James Lambert lauds Nate Dunkin, a project leader, as someone who provided step-by-step feedback on how to improve. In contrast, Alejandra Ramirez points to her manager, Marika Bigler, as someone who has boosted her confidence — pushing her to “find her voice” and challenge her peers’ points of view. Along the same lines, Christina Bachtina wondered how she would fit with BCG since she had never worked in healthcare. Fortunately, her first project leader was Mitch Kirby, a Booth MBA and principal in the Chicago office.
“He was patient enough to not only teach me the ins-and-outs of biopharma, but the consulting toolkit as well—in particular the art and science of storytelling,” Bachtina tells P&Q. “It’s hard to turn a finance/Excel person into a slide designer and storyteller, but Mitch somehow got me on the right track. Working with him showed me the power of our apprenticeship model and gave me an example to aspire to. I can’t believe I’m saying this now, but there is always a better way to present data than in a table!”
NEW GROWTH AREAS
BCG devotes considerable time to coaching and developing talent. At the same time, the firm has invested heavily in expanding its proficiencies. In the process, BCG has better positioned its clients and consultants for success. Notably, BCG has focused on artificial intelligence and digital capabilities, a market that now represents 40% of the firm’s overall business according to Brian Myerholtz.
“We’ve developed a broad set of capabilities through some strategic businesses that we’ve added to our portfolio,” Myerholtz tells P&Q. “[We have] AI, data, analytics, platform architecture, cybersecurity and so forth. We’ve added Gamma and Digital Ventures all under the BCG umbrella working side-by-side with traditional consulting teams to solve some of those digital problems. We have the capabilities to apply AI in pragmatic and value-creating ways. We have the capabilities to go from strategy and concept to actually launching a new business with our digital ventures. These are capabilities we didn’t have 5-10 years ago that we do now. It’s a lot more end-to-end capabilities with a lot more focus on speed-to- market and delivering value to clients.”
BCG has also boosted its breadth and depth in Racial Equity and Inclusion. This is an increasingly popular area for BCG, where clients are not only seeking training but also models for operating in an increasingly diverse and inclusive environment. One of the biggest growth areas, however, has come in climate change, sustainability, ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance).
“Within ESG and sustainability, it used to be the work of big non-profit organizations and NGOs,” Maggie Orr observes. “Now, it is something we work with many private sector companies. It’s a bigger portion of the business and thinking through all the sustainability challenges and how do you help companies more broadly tackle that.”
More generally, Purpose has also grown increasingly important to BCG client, Brian Mayerholtz adds. “We’ve added Brighthouse to the portfolio. They are an organization that helps us with, ‘How do you clarify and communicate your corporate purpose and translate that to better strategic execution, better investor sentiment, better employee relations and retention?’. This can broaden the impact and the type of relationships that we can have with our clients and provide a lot of new opportunities for our traditional consulting staff from MBA programs.”
TOP BENEFITS IN MANAGEMENT CONSULTING
That’s on top of the lavish perks offered by BCG, which earned the highest marks of any consulting firm in Vault’s 2020 survey of consultants. “BCG, in general, has a philosophy of taking care of the people who work here,” Brian Myerholtz says. “It comes through in compensation and benefits. The one thing I tell recruits that no one seems to fully appreciate is that the healthcare benefits are amazing. I’ll say that to an MBA coming out of school and they’ll say, “Yeah, whatever.” Two years later, they’re having their first child and they’ll email me and say, “This is amazing. I was fully supported and it cost very little. It’s world class healthcare.”
That’s just the start, Myerholtz adds. “It is a little bit of a delayed gratification. We do have immediate vesting of 401K program. We’ve also increased our support in terms of counseling and mental benefits. We’ve increase the flexibility of our work models for more time off and more time for you. It is all part of a common philosophy: Let’s help people, in every dimension, to plan for now and plan for the future.”
In the same Vault employee survey, BCG also ranked #1 for Compensation, along with finishing among the Top 5 in both Formal and Informal Training. Maggie Orr, for one, considers BCG’s training resources to be second-to-none.
“When you first enter, in each career stage, there are these core flagship LIVE training programs that now apply hybrid models and take advantage of technology in different ways. There are these ongoing access to really deep on-demand trainings. You can think of these as [covering] both career skills and functional and industry expertise. There are mentorship programs. There are coaches in many offices who work one-on-one. There is additional external coaching support provided on specific topics. Suffice it to say, there are a ton of training opportunities at BCG.”
Page 3: In-depth profiles of a dozen MBA hires at the Boston Consulting Group.