Bain Consultant: The ROI Of An MBA From Columbia Business School

Columbia Business School Graduation Reception – Cluster X

Are you considering whether an MBA makes sense for you? You are in the right place. I was in your shoes a couple of years ago. This month, I have graduated from Columbia Business School with Dean’s Honors and will be returning to Bain & Company.

An MBA is a significant monetary investment. It is a career progression “slow down”, two years with (almost) no salary that often requires you to relocate and start over in a new environment. At first, this can sound scary, even make you consider passing on the idea.


I was hesitant too, so I had to gather more intel. I arranged my own focus group with leaders I admired, to learn about their career journeys and MBA experiences. Despite attending different schools and working in different industries around the world, they all shared a common thread in their stories. Each described the MBA as a “transformative life experience” and “one of the best moments of their lives”.

I was intrigued. Can the value of an MBA really outweigh the costs?

I continued speaking to more MBA alumni and I quickly realized that the return on investment (ROI) of an MBA unfolds over time. Some of the benefits are immediate, like finally being able to take a long vacation without any “pls fix” coming your way. Others emerge during the program, such as building friendships, enjoying unique experiences, and engaging in continuous learning. However, some benefits only become apparent over time. These included the doors opened by being a graduate of a specific MBA program, the lifelong friendships made today with the leaders of tomorrow, and the hard and soft skills developed. We are talking about a lifetime ROI!

Columbia Business School was a clear choice for me. Studying “at the very center of business” sounded like my childhood dream. Beyond, Columbia Business School is one of the world’s leading MBA programs. It offers a Family Enterprise focus (an area I am passionate about given my family business background), and has been significantly investing in developing New York’s entrepreneurial scene. It was a perfect fit.

Fireside chat on “Navigating Tomorrow: Leadership Priorities and the Role of AI” with Manny Maceda and Dean Maglaras

I joined Columbia Business School with three “reasons why”.

1) Pursue Passions and Explore the New: Dive deeper into my passions like family business while also exploring new markets, industries, and cultures.

2. Build lifetime connections: Develop lifetime friendships with peers and expand my network in the US and globally.

3. Establish a leadership vision: Define how and where I aspire to lead in the future, with a commitment to continuous self-improvement.

My expectations were exceeded on all three.

Christmas Dinner December 2023 with Italians and MBA Family


Columbia Business School allowed me to dive deeper into my existing passions, but also discover new ones.

Family Enterprise: The Global Family Enterprise Program opened the doors to learning about entrepreneurial families. Through courses such as Family Business Management, I had the opportunity to learn through real-life case studies, class speakers, and a semester-long project advising an Italian family business.

The program allowed me to learn about strategies to foster family business longevity, reflect on my own business, and build tight-knit connections with other family business owners around the world. Inspired by the power of this community, my partner and I launched the first cross-campus Family Business Community in the United States.

Family businesses make up 80% of all businesses worldwide, so they are and will continue to be very important clients for Bain & Company. This makes them increasingly relevant to me as a consultant.

Entrepreneurship and Early-Stage Investing: I have dedicated many weekends to brainstorming or working on new venture ideas. A weekend didn’t provide enough time to make real progress and my full-time jobs were always very demanding. The MBA was the perfect moment for me to become more entrepreneurial. Together with one of my classmates, we applied to the Columbia Summer Startup Track (Accelerator Program at Columbia Business School) and were selected to join and work our business over the summer.

The accelerator provided us with invaluable resources and a network to evolve our idea from a drawing board concept to an actual product. We experienced first-hand the meaning of wearing all hats in a business. We ran customer studies, interviewed talent for our engineering team, wrote code, hosted demos, developed financial forecasts, designed marketing materials, and so much more.

Through the program, we met some of New York’s finest early-stage investors, received exclusive training sessions with successful Columbia Business School founders, and were extended the opportunity to pitch for a $10,000 grant.

The most valuable experience the accelerator gave us: learning more about ourselves as entrepreneurs. We were encouraged to Test & Learn, so we tested it ALL out: different product ideas, leadership styles, sales strategies … I guess that might have been one of the reasons for the many “NOs” received. However, we learned to channel “failure” as motivational fuel and discovered what did work. Both of us went back into our semester full of energy and inspiration to bring our ideas to life.

Beyond working for my startup, I advised several New York City early-stage businesses and worked with leading investment firms. The operational and investment experience gained strongly transfers to my future in consulting. At Bain & Company, we invest in and promote innovation. We partner with startups on client projects, offer pro-bono advisory for early-stage businesses, and most recently began investing in them. Whether I will be an intrapreneur at Bain or an entrepreneur for myself, my startup experiences at Columbia Business School have provided me with a profound foundation.

Cultural Immersions: From Argentina to China, my classmates and I had the privilege to visit many countries throughout our program.

During our trip to China, we embarked on a two-hour-long hike along the Great Wall. As we reached one of the peaks, we naturally had to stage a Columbia Business School photo session. We were taken by surprise, as locals started cheering, joining our pictures, and even handing us their young children. It was a heartwarming moment that showcased how two distant cultures can connect, even without a common language.

In Shanghai, we experienced a traditional tea ritual, a common setting for discussing business and closing deals. That might come in handy for some future cross-border business opportunities! We visited small local businesses that produced silk and ceramics and practiced our negotiation skills with some help from Google Translate.

New environments, languages, and mindsets trained our ability to be quick learners, find novel communication methods, and be ever more empathetic. With an ambition to pursue an international career, it has been crucial for me to further expand my experience and understanding of global markets. Bain & Company operates internationally, with clients often seeking to enter new markets. Having team members in the firm who speak the local language and have studied, and visited the country can offer a significant advantage in delivering value to clients.

Columbia Business School China Trek in Beijing’s Forbidden City


A crucial aspect of my MBA experience has been the opportunity to build lifetime connections. The value of the relationships built with professors, executives, and my classmates is truly priceless. Measuring ROI on that? Good luck.

One of my highlights was collaborating with and getting to know Bain & Company’s Worldwide Managing Partner, Manny Maceda. As a Bainie who has been inspired by his leadership for years, this was a tremendous opportunity. Together with the Bain & Company and Columbia Business School teams, I organized a fireside chat on “Navigating Tomorrow: Leadership Priorities and the Role of AI”. Months of preparation resulted in a phenomenal turn-out, a sold-out venue, and a smiling Worldwide Managing Partner.

Another memorable moment was traveling to the West Coast with the Venture Capital Club and meeting Silicon Valley’s “crème de la crème” investors. This ranged from GGV Capital (now Notable Capital) to A16z – an all-star line-up. We learned about fund-specific investment strategies and analyzed the value propositions of their portfolio companies. We also spent quality time together, visiting the Museum of Modern Art and bonding over a highly competitive mini-golf tournament. The network I built on the West Coast trip remains a valuable source of knowledge about the startup scene in Silicon Valley and a go-to partner for assisting startups in raising capital.

Last but not least, the return comes with lifetime friendships built with my classmates. We did pretty much everything together. Yes, everything. This included braving -40° F in an AirBnb with non-isolated windows and pulling all-nighters to support interview preparation to drinking coconut water at the beach and sharing our life ambitions. My classmates are my extended family, a support system, and the leaders of tomorrow whom I can rely on.

Family Business Community’s first in-person meet-up in New York


Pursuing an MBA gave me the space and resources to get more clarity on my long-term career trajectory and the leadership style and mindset I want to carry forward. Inspired by professors, executive speakers at conferences, campus events, and my peers, I was able to enrich my leadership “toolbox”. Let me highlight one: public speaking. Beyond taking notes on the content leaders shared, I closely observed their communication styles. Some used storytelling, while others embedded humor. However, the key was understanding the audience and finding authentic ways to build a connection. I applied this in classes like Leader’s Voice, in pitches to investors for my startup, and even in my family (business). I enjoy public speaking and it is a significant part of my role at Bain, whether it is with clients or my teams.

As I look towards the future, I aspire to be a leader who inspires and motivates others, bringing out their best qualities. My career-to-date and the MBA at Columbia Business School have allowed me to start shaping my leadership instincts, to set the right foundations for me to one day hopefully become a Partner at Bain & Company and lead my ventures. However, this is just the beginning.

I strongly believe in the importance of staying curious and humble, to continuously learn and evolve as a leader. My second essential leadership tool.

The value of the MBA at Columbia Business School certainly outweighs any cost for me. And most of the benefits are yet to come. If I were to translate it to ROI, think quintuple digits.

Giacomo Hopf

I urge you to discover your personal “why,” identify the school that aligns with your aspirations and embark on this transformative journey with an open mindset. Remember, the MBA is just the beginning – it’s Chapter 1 of your extraordinary story.

Shoutout to the Columbia Business School J-Term Class of 2024 – “Ad Maiora”

About Giacomo: I am Italian-German by nationality, but have had the privilege to live, study, and work in 10+ countries. Prior to my MBA at Columbia Business School, I was working at Bain & Company in Italy focusing on growth strategy and digital transformation.

You can connect with Giacomo on LinkedIn

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