Meet Bain & Company’s MBA Class of 2022: Audrey Aw 

Audrey Aw 

Location: Singapore

Hometown: Singapore

MBA program: Cambridge Judge Business School, Full-time MBA

Undergraduate school, major: National University of Singapore, Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) with double major in Marketing and Management

Focus of current case: Procurement, Consumer Products

What word best describes Bain and why?
I’m going to “cheat” a little here and use the word “value(d)”…

From an employee lens, every individual’s unique perspective and contribution is valued and encouraged, from our approach to cracking problems, to our feedback on case experiences in the weekly CTSU surveys, to how we’d like to drive community building in our respective Extra10s.

Leaders recognize the importance of ensuring that you get maximum value from your time at Bain, as much as possible balancing your work impact, professional growth and personal well-being. I love that we can have genuine, constructive conversations with our supervisors and PD / staffing regardless of whether we aspire to be “Bain lifers” or whether consulting is just one season in our career journeys.

Finally, bringing real value to our clients is at the core of Bain’s DNA. I’ve personally witnessed my case leaders redirecting conversations with clients when they’ve received requests to pitch for work that they believed was not truly impactful for the client, even if it would have been easy to just say yes. I must admit that in these moments, I’ve been additionally proud of how “at cause” we are, as we call it in Bain.

Why did you choose to work at Bain? 
People often describe the “airport test”, i.e. asking yourself whether you would like to be stuck at an airport with a particular person, as being critical given the long hours consultants spend working together, and I’ve found it to be immensely true.

Prior to applying to Bain, I was attracted to the diverse and impactful work that Bain consultants deliver. This includes exposure to challenging assignments and, correspondingly, an accelerated learning curve, as well as the opportunity to work with very notable clients at the senior-most levels of organisations.

Ultimately though, it was my personal interactions with different Bainies throughout the interview and offer process the sealed the deal for me. Despite coming from different backgrounds, I found them all to be really sharp, yet grounded, approachable and warm—from HR recruiters to peer consultants to experienced partners. I was always made to feel at ease throughout the process, and that gave me greater confidence to make the transition into consulting and Bain as an industry/post-MBA hire as well.

What did you love about the business school you attended? 
Interestingly enough, it’s also how I would relate to being at Bain and that word is “collaborative.” My classmates in the Cambridge MBA were ever ready to make time for one another and to go out of their way to support others, be it on the academic front, in our respective career searches, or just working through personal life circumstances during our year together.

Implicitly, I think everyone understood that we all had unique personal and career aspirations that we were exploring, and it never felt like we were competing with one another. It has been a year-and-a-half since I graduated, and classmates still reach out to connect whenever they’re in Singapore/Southeast Asia, or vice versa when I’m in their hometown.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned so far at Bain? 
If you want to go far (and fast, actually), go together. I’ve learnt that there is truly no such thing as a stupid question at Bain. Given that we’re often tasked on cases with problems unfamiliar to us, the sooner you raise your hand to seek clarification or to ask for support, the sooner you get “spring boarded” toward the solutions you’re trying to uncover.

I’ve come to realise that there are knowledge gaps I will always have simply because I’ve not had experience in an area, and it doesn’t necessarily speak less of my competence. Likewise, my unique experiences allow me to contribute to my case teams in ways that others can’t. Ultimately, we’re recognized and rewarded for our ability to crack problems in cohesive teams, not as individual superstars.

Which manager or peer has had the biggest impact on you at Bain, and how has he or she made you a better consultant?
I think my most memorable manager would be Chloe Chuah, who was the manager on my very first case at Bain. She’s now a Senior Manager based in the Singapore office. Given the nature of the team at the time, Chloe was simultaneously coaching us as new consultants while also driving the problem-solving on the case. Nonetheless, Chloe maintained a sense of calm and structure on the case, which gave us a lot of assurance and confidence on the progress we were making as the weeks passed. Even as I supervise associate consultants these days, I try to remember that a supervisor’s demeanor can make all the difference, regardless of how tough a case may actually be.

At the same time, Chloe had a very strong work ethic and did not relinquish her expectations in terms of the quality of our deliverables. This has certainly set a strong foundation for the work quality that I’ve continued to aspire toward since then as well.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work for Bain? 
Take time to speak with as many Bainies as possible from your target office. While the firm culture and ways of working are largely consistently across our offices globally, there are still local and regional nuances on the types of work and client profiles we engage with – and to some extent on the interview processes as well. These conversations are a two-way street. The more you get into the heart of things, the better your ability to position your profile for your desired office, but also to make an assessment as to whether you see Bain being a fit with your career aspirations as well.

What has been your most meaningful career achievement and how did it make a difference?
I trust that I will come to have yet more breakthroughs at Bain, but thus far I think it was when I helped set up the inaugural internal HR consulting function for a multinational company.

This was a completely new setup in the company’s HR operating model and there were no past references to guide us. I was also stepping into my first formal supervisor role. The task was certainly daunting, but it was also exciting that we could carve something new from scratch. I’m proud to share that as a team of just five, we delivered 40+ people strategy projects across the business within two years, achieving 100% NPS scores. It was in that time that I truly grew in my people management and motivation skills, something that I continue to build upon at Bain today.

A fun fact about me people would be surprised to know is…
Not exactly a surprise, but a fun fact would be that I love being in the outdoors, and in particular, hiking/trekking. Pre-covid, I used to plan at least one major hiking trip a year and have reached Everest Base Camp in Nepal and the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, for example. Trails in Bhutan, Peru and Chile are still on my bucket list, and I hope to get down to planning some trips again soon!


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