Q&A - 1Y at Bain

Good afternoon everyone,

Some of you probably saw me dumping text walls on some posts in the last few months. I'm very active on this forum because I believe everyone has a duty to help and assist others, as long as they are able (and not everyone comes into consulting with a cousin or their parent who is an MBB partner or big client).

I was on this forum myself before interviewing and found that info for the UK was lacking, and that direct & honest feedback from current MBBers was also a bit light (usually they were either blasé or weirdly unhelpful or had been out for 5+ years).

So, in the spirit of resolving some of that information asymmetry out there, I am here to do a bit of a Q&A / AMA. Feel free to shoot your questions below. If I cannot answer, I will let you know.

A bit of background on me so you know what to ask:

  • Firm: Bain
  • Level: AC
  • Geo: UK
  • Applied to: Bain London / BCG Paris (pulled out before R2)
  • Pre-Bain: consulting at FS firm + business intelligence at automotive firm + internship at agribusiness startup
  • Academics: advanced degree holder (PhD / MD / JD) + other degrees from mostly unknown universities (except one "Tier 2" uni; I'm borrowing the term from another thread I saw, but I don't like this terminology)

Happy to answer everything and anything from interviews to day-in-the-life, or from salary to career progression & exits. Obviously won't mention competitive info, but that's a given.

Feel free to ask questions about McK / BCG too, but my exposure to them is very limited (you probably already know what I know) or about other Bain offices (I'll have limited information, but I can give my best educated guess based on people I know, if I am able).

Disclaimer: you will notice quickly I am very pro-Bain (genuinely very happy in this job) but be sure I will answer truthfully if there are issues / things to improve. Few things worse than going into a new job blindsided.

Final note: If I do say something about McK / BCG and you happen to work there and can correct me, please do so! I'll happily edit responses to include your inputs.

 

I'll kick things off! 

1. You come from an untraditional background, what level/seniority did you enter at with an advanced degree (e.g. AC Level 1 or Experienced AC)? How has your first year been in terms of project exposure? Is it UK focused or global? 

2. What was the average day like in terms of % of work towards administrative work (like responding to emails or fine-tuning decks) vs. intellectually stimulating work (research-oriented tasks, primary or secondary research gathering)? 

3. Would you advise advanced degrees as a way to set yourself apart for other lateral candidates with some odd years of experience post-undergraduate studies? 

4.  How did you prepare for the interview process for the firm-specific questions like Why Bain? How did you handle yourself during the Partner chat? 

Thanks for doing this!!

 
Most Helpful
  1. Entry point + 1st year experience
  • I came in as a first-year AC, as Bain London hires PhDs as ACs (In Germany/US you enter as a Consultant, and I think in Paris as an SAC), which was a little annoying at first, but it’s fine, I get to overperform easily (the bar is relatively low as a first-year if you’ve worked before)
  • I joined PEG directly, because I wanted exposure to multiple industries / teams and different elements of the consulting toolkit (customer analysis, competitive analysis, market modelling, interviewing, etc.). Did CDDs in Media / Tech / Healthcare / Retail, all pretty interesting. Focus has been mainly UK / Europe (had only two assets that were US-based). My next project will be outside of PEG and will also be Europe-based (in Financial Service, most I can say)
  1. Type of work
  • One of the things that surprised me at first was the sheer amount of meetings, usually to align / update our leadership team (so the Partners, or the Senior Manager on the case). That’s usually a good 2-3h a day in PEG (since we’re on such a short timeline, ~2-3 weeks, there’s no room for going off course, so need to constantly align)
  • In a typical 12-14h day, I’d say I probably do 2-4h of those meetings, have about 1h total for lunch/dinner, and the remaining 8-11h being all work (with the bulk happening after 5pm). Those 8-10h of work are typically unevenly distributed over the course of a case: early on you don’t do a lot of slides, except to get a view of what you’re working toward, but most of it is working on the answer (say 70-80%). As you get in the last 3 days working up to a client update, you start spending closer to 50-70% of your time on the slides, and then back and forth with analysis (eg refining, confirming, validating, or adding new data points)
  1. Advanced degrees
  • In London there definitely are a few of us. I know about ~10 people with advanced degrees (PhDs / MDs), so it may be more of a thing here. Experienced hiring is a bigger thing in Europe / UK than in North America. So, in NA I’m not sure how much of a value-add there would be to it. If you already have one, because that’s what you did, then great, but I wouldn’t get one pre-emptively as a way to add to my profile. Work experience would trump that (and in NA, probably an MBA would be the next entry point)
  1. Interviews + Partner chat
  • In terms of general prep, I rehearsed and prepped all my answers to all main behavioural questions (leadership / teamwork / etc.) with 1-2 examples each, and recorded myself to make sure I could tell them clearly and simply in 90-120 secs. I have like 50-60 recordings on my phone of me doing that. Followed the ever-proven and effective STAR method, of course.
  • For Case Prep, I have another post where I discuss my prep (link here). The key take away was to be super tactical and progress-oriented, given that I started caseing only 3 weeks before interviewing
  • Thinking about it, I don’t think I was ever asked “Why Bain?” although I think BCG did ask me that. I did of course work up some answers just in case. So, for me it was
    • Bain was one of the few firms who actually told clients what was wrong / what they didn’t want to hear but needed to hear (and I have seen this several times already since joining. We’ll do the work, but we’ll get to the right answer, that we genuinely believe the client should and can implement)
    • of all the people I had spoken to, across firms, I liked Bainies the most, they always made me feel welcome and like they actually wanted to help me. And despite being super busy, never made me feel like I was wasting their time and they had better things to do. Really liked that
    • and finally, I wanted to move back to London because I loved the city, missed living in the UK, and wanted to be in a major office hub
  • My partner chats went pretty well, overall. I was used to talking to executives from my old job and my approach has always been the same: be respectful but don’t overdo it and treat them like people. But objectively, in my final case with a senior partner, I thought I messed it up.
  • He looked so distracted and unimpressed, I thought he had made up his mind already (based on nothing but my own paranoia). And during the case I did make a small mistake in a market sizing (forgot to multiply by frequency of purchase). Luckily, I caught it, sense checked my maths, and saw my omission in the calculations, so I corrected it (I had the right structure to begin with, just forgot it whilst going through the motions). He called me later that evening to tell me of my offer, so clearly, I had been paranoid.
  • Just remember that they can also have bad days and have a million other things on their mind at the same time. So, I try to bring a bit of positive energy in the room (or Zoom) to at least not add to it.
 

Thanks for the incredibly detailed answers and debrief! 

I do agree with the sentiment from Bain as well. I've spoken to pretty much every consulting firm in N.A. and in all my chats, EY-P, LEK and Bain have stood out the most in terms of conversations and connections. As for the consulting toolkit, I'd love to understand the 100 foot view of things like Market Modelling. Are you gathering sub-setor information from a macro view? Are you building guidnace models similar to the complex ones seen in IB? From a technical standpoint and granular detail view, how in-depth does the analysis go and how does it feed into the recommendation? 

For the above barrage of questions, I've seen my fair share of things in technology consulting and my conversations with pure-play shops like O.W. and such, but rarely hear answers as built out as yours. 

 

Stupid WSO blackout erased my response. Can't be bothered to retype it in detail, but broadlines were:

  • Market modelling is a cornerstone of most DDs (since most targets we look at are in niche industries)
  • Generally trying to answer 3 questions: How big? Grows how fast? Which segment is most attractive/defensible?
  • Usually follow the following general process (top-down):
    • Lay down driver tree: high level first (to be validated within 1-2 days) then properly detailed (e.g., by different customer segments x geos x sub-segments x revenue streams, etc.)
    • Validate / sense check / test / challenge every assumption (e.g. penetration by geo by customer type), with most data being primary (combination of interviews + surveys)
    • Usually have a few secondary sources + a bottom-up view by key competitors to get a triangulation
  • Occasionally, but rarely, we do build income statements for the target (+ forecast), if relevant. However this is rare because obvs PE funds / IBs can do that better than us, with their arms tied behind their back
 

I’m not sure if you’ll be able to answer my question, but what are the odds that someone can transition from IB to MBB? I would be entering the former from undergrad, and from a non-target at that, so I know I can’t make the transition directly, but do you think I would have a shot if I got an MBA from a top 10-15 program? Would my non-target undergrad hold me back even if I did get an MBA from a top program? Or do MBBs not concern themselves with recruiting graduate students? I appreciate any advise/insight you can give me.

 

Would love to be insightul there, but unfortunately I'm not US based. Most of what I'll know on this topic will likely be from this forum and others like it.

For what it's worth, in Europe, because MBBs (certainly us) have grown so fast in recent years, we've had to hire from a lot more diverse backgrounds (inc. mine). As a broad generalisation, from my second-hand understanding and going by what I've seen, if you're an MBA hire it looks like the MBA is the degree that matters.

There is a high degree of correlation of course: if you're at a top MBA programme, you probably did well in your undergrad (regardless of whether or not it was a well-known college) and you have solid work experience. So, in principle if you can case & interview, it shouldn't be impossible to transition (esp. if you can land an SA position, then you should be fine).

Anecdotally, I know of only 2 people at my office who did IB before. There are probably more, but it's not a super common transition in the UK at least (guessing the comp drop might affet it).

 

I haven't the faintest idea, genuinely.

My knowledge of Hedge Funds is a basic understanding of what they do + 2-3 movies. Never met anyone from one or spoke to anyone about one.

What little I understand is that you have to have a good nose for investments (that's good), but I don't know how good the avg structured problem solving skill is coming from a MM HF. I see people every day with backgrounds in Classics, Law, Public sector work, etc. But really rarely see finance people at all (as I mentioned above).

 

Hey, much appreciated - your threads have been super useful to me so I wanted to say thanks.

Could you detail your journey into Bain? As you'd mentioned your previous experience with University & clarify what FS means and your other. I was quite interested to know.

Further, I'd love to know if you've considered the move to Private Equity as yet. It's a field of interest and would love to know what of your colleagues have made the jump (is it common etc).

 

Journey

  • Thank Grodd, a question I can actually answer :D
  • I worked a little bit before choosing to pursue a more academic path. I was seeking more of a challenge, intellectually. Afterward, academia / research didn’t seem to be for me, so had to move my butt back over to the private sector
  • FS in this case was financial data & non-investment FS (eg ratings, advisory). They had a small econ consulting arm (tiny % of revenue), so the name was recognisable, but not so much the group I came from (lovely team though, and would not have hated staying, I just got a little bored)
  • The rest of my experiences were mostly random (objectively). Took the jobs I found, basically. Let’s just say that 10-15 years ago, resources for CV / Cover Letters / Recruiting were not nearly as widespread as now if you didn’t come from a well-known university. And I was not aware of WSO, nor was anyone I knew.

PE

  • I did consider it initially, for a little while. And definitely a few things that are cool about it: (1) the money is a big draw, obviously, but also (2) ownership of the assets / process, and (3) real applied strategy as you need to move every lever to generate returns within your Portfolio Companies in limited time
  • However, I am genuinely not keen on the hours (if I worked 70-80h/week, I’d want to do something I felt more passionate about) and while I can do financial modelling, I just don’t enjoy it at all. Basically, every time I looked at PE, it felt like I was trying to convince myself to do it, rather than being actually drawn to it
  • A few of my colleagues have indeed jumped to PE. In the last 5-6 months, I can point to at least 4 that I know of. All joined anything from LMM to MF as Associates or Senior Associates. Usually they were SACs / Cs when leaving here. Definitely much more finance / investment-oriented folks. Had long stints in our PE group here, and were all very high performers.
  • I also know a few people who are generally considering a potential exit to PE later. So, definitely not uncommon.
 

Thanks so much for doing this! 

When one first joins PEG, I feel as though it might be overwhelming due to the higher pace/higher stakes on the engagements and not knowing what the exact playbook is for the DDs (I could be very wrong on this). What is the process for someone ramping up when they freshly join PEG (assuming no prior background in DDs)? Are prior cases used as reference points, or are there internal documents/playbooks for what to do for what case?

 

Getting Started

  • When starting out in DDs, it's common to feel unsure about what it entails, but that shouldn't deter you from achieving top ratings. We have developed a proven playbook for DDs, which is why we are leaders in the sector. The best advice I can give is to listen to your Supervisor and Senior Manager
  • Even with no prior experience, whether you've been at Bain for two years or are an MBA hire, you will initially be assigned admin-y tasks, particularly related to expert interviews. While these  may not seemsuper value-add, they can have significant consequences if not done properly. It's not difficult but can be time-consuming

Progressing in DD

  • As you gain experience, say by Case #2, you can start contributing to research, interviews, and analysis. The extent of your involvement will depend on your previous experience (eg whether you had 1 internship or 3YOE pre-Bain). It's better to rotate among different workstreams during your stay in PEG to gain maximum exposure. Ideally, you should aim to be involved in each workstream 1-2 times, depending on how long it takes you to become proficient. For example, if you have a background in investment banking, you may only need one case with market modeling to show you can do it to our standards

Using Prior Cases

  • Prior cases depends on the target company. Sometimes, the target is a direct competitor of a previous target we diligenced. However, each company has unique characteristics, e.g., different sub-segments or geos. Often, we evaluate entirely new assets in industries that no one is familiar with outside of the Partners. While we may have done something similar in the past, it can be more time-consuming to adapt previous work rather than starting from scratch

Playbook

  • Nevertheless, we follow a general playbook for DDs, which can be customised as needed. This approach is pretty great as you can become very good quickly through just doing more reps. It ensures that even if you have no prior knowledge of a particular industry, you always know what you're doing. If you enjoy it, you can become highly skilled in a short amount of time. While the hours may be demanding compared to our general practice (where we do all other projects), they are more predictable. PEG involves high intensity, there are no dull moments, and time wasted on things not contributing to the answer is the worst thing you can do. However, your team is always there to help & support you

High Stakes

  • In DD, the stakes are high, as each assessment directly contributes to a specific decision: to buy or not? Sometimes, a deal may appear financially attractive on paper, but as we dig into the commercial aspects, we might discover a less positive outlook or realise that the business or sector lacks differentiation or is in a declining sub-segment
 

Hey! I have two easy (I think) questions:

  • Do you have a lot of colleagues who have previously studied at RSM? Seems like a good university, but I'm not sure if it's considered decent outside of BeNeLux.
  • Also curious about needed background to break into MBB: do they consider recently graduated students with master's at all? And what's the most common master's to study, if you want to end up in MBB?

Thank you for answering in advance!

 

Happy to help if I can!

  • RSM: don't know anyone from there in London. A lot of recruiting is regional to be fair, but I'm sure recruiters know it's a good university. If you apply and say you want to work in London, I don't see a reason why you wouldn't be given proper consideration
  • Background: in London we hire even recent undergraduates, so someone with a master would absolutely be fine (you'd still come in as an AC though, if you have <2YOE). Most commong master might be an MS in Economics / Business (ignoring MBAs). But frankly, we literally have everything (doctors, chemists, veterans, politcial science grads, classics students, CS majors, etc.). The bottom line for assessing whether to give you a shot is very simple: Have you excelled at what you did? And are you someone who does more than just show up and do the work? If you can demonstrate these two things, you're doing a lot more than most people already
 

Hello! Thanks for being so responsive on different consulting posts. I have been researching comp for consulting in London, specifically MBB vs Tier 2 & strategy arms in Big 4, and I found that comp at entry level is more or less the same at entry level. Though the gap widens at higher levels (starting from C at Bain I believe). Just want to confirm if this is true. 

 

I have a response here for comps in London (a little further down that sub-thread): link.

I know our comps, and other MBBs I have some decent second-hand info (between Fishbowl and here, over time). T2s I unfortunately do not know at all. Especially since some places like S& / EYP have different comp profiles from the rest of their B4 parent I believe. 

 

Wow! Bain sounds super different than all the other top consulting places! They give the clients the right answer? Even if the client doesn’t want to hear it? That’s some tough love right there!

 

Hi, thank you so much for doing this. Incoming ACI at Bain Zurich, and would love to hear a Bainie's input on the below!

1. Converting ACI: Bain DACH "only" converts ca. 50% (was told that by a SM who himself was an ACI). Any tipps/suggestions on how to go about making sure I convert? I have definitely drunk the Kool-Aid, so would hate to have to re-recruit.

2. Staffing: Personally super interested in PEG, but am somewhat skeptical of the fast-pace/little room for errors, compared to GP (considering my No 1 priority is conversion). But heard that some GP projects can also get messy/unpredictable and be even worse than PEG (and potentially less/not interesting). Do I go for the predictable, fast-paced, little-room-for-errors (PEG) or try my luck in the lottery that could be GP?

3. Networking: Should I keep my networking to my Case Team and proximity, or also reach out to partners/alums I want to get to know personally or learn more about their practice?

4. Miscellaneous: Anything else you think I should know?

Thank you in advance!

 

 

Well done on the ACI offer! I know a couple of people in the Zurich office, good peeps.

  1. Conversion wil be a function of your performance during your ACI (the very obvious part), how you are perceived during the ACI (a tad obvious too), and the general business needs of the Zurich office. You can definitely influence 2 of those, so that's a good starting point. To maximise your chances, you'll want to:
    • Do your best during the work portion- as an ACI, you'll really be an investment for the team (and objectively a bit of a net negative, just how things are), but that's totally fine! This is the baseline expectation, so literally anything you do that is done well & quickly will be a bonus. Expectations being low means exceeding will be easier. Here is a list of tips for newer junior analysts/consultants I wrote the other day, most should apply: link here
    • Be the role model you wish you had- that sounds a bit abstract, but I'll explain. A few behaviours you'll want to exhibit (assuming this is who you are and it doesn't involve you really going against your own values) are: (A) Going above and beyond (you should never have nothing to do, if that's the case, ask the team how else you can help) + (B) Being friendly and have a positive attitude (if someone asks you to do something, you don't want to project that youd don't want to do it or would rather do something else // also don't want to be rude). That's it, really. You can volunteer to organise a case team event or a bit of case fun (especially if you have some good ideas), to take notes during a meeting / interview (in fact you should almost alwasy volunteer for that), etc. What does the best person you can imagine yourself working with look like (in terms of attitude / behaviour)? And do that. Be who you'd want to work with
  2. Staffing is a delicate question, because it so depends on you. PEG is harder for a new hire, and I would discourage new grads from going there straight out of uni (or as interns) unless they have experience in other high-paced fields (e.g., IB). GP has a lot more variance, where you could have a super chill case for 10 weeks or a nightmare of a case for 10 weeks (really no way to control that). On the plus side, really bad cases (in terms of hours) are not the norm in GP. There is also no brownie points for doing well in PEG vs GP. If you think GP will be more conducive to your conversion, head that way
  3. Networking is less important outside of your team from a "utilitarian" perspective. But again, it's a matter of personality. I would take advantage of the time at Bain to talk to as many people as possible, get to know them, ask questions, see what they liked about the firm (or disliked), and just get to know your colleagues in general. If you get a return offer, bunch of them will be your team mates later. It kind of circles back to my point about acting like your own role model: you should try to meet people in the office (now, no need to be super transactional and "networky"; just get to know the people, most are barely 2-5 years older than you). As for partners / alumni, I don't think it would have any sway. I would do that only if you had a real reason for asking them for a 15mins chat (e.g., you really really wanna work in our FS practice and your case isn't in that, and so you want to chat about it)
  4. Miscellaneous advice would be to just enjoy the ride, try it out, see if you like consulting at all, if you enjoy the peolpe you work with. Doesn't mean everyone has to be your friend, but do you at least get along with them and work well together? One thing that could help you stand out a tiny bit, potentially, is to be proactive with what you'd like to learn during your time there.
    • Once you're on a case, you can chat to your supervisor about what things you hope to get to work on / learn (e.g., some excel analysis, some customer analysis, public speaking/presenting, or any other skill you'd like to work on). They may not be able to accommodate it, but knowing it will help them know a bit better what to give you if at some point several options are available. Also shows you're being proactive about your personal development (and we love that)
      • remember, you can't get what you want if you don't ask for it
    • Also, ask other people on your team, besides your supervisor & SM if they have any tips for you, however small, or things they wish they'd known. Usually everyone has at least 1-2 on their mind

Overall, try to enjoy it. It's early in your career, so you have plenty of time to change your mind. You might be a partner in 15 years, or you might have chosen a different path upon graduation.

And welcome aboard!

 

Thank you so much for the write-up, this is extremely helpful - and definitely coincides with the experience I had with Bainies being super helpful and supportive. I have some follow-up questions, I hope that's ok:

1. Perception: When it comes to your evaluation, how much of it is you demonstrating your skills and PD, and how much is (S)AC/Con/(S)M you're working with having an objective view? Or in other words: How true is "perception is reality" as an ACI?

2. Being Proactive: How do you draw the line between being proactive and not coming across as annoying/too eager/not autonomous?

3. Communicating Wants: Should I communicate my interest in conversion with my SM at the start of the case?

 

Which PE funds are the typical exits? Is MF/UMM exits common or is it mainly MM/LMM? Unsure about how many in funds in London recruit ex-consultants.

 

do you feel or have you ever felt mentally fatigued? have you ever come across feeling burnt out or know of people in your industry who have faced burnt out? 

Is the work mentally taxing? I've only had IB experience and it was way less taxing than I had actually expected. Is this true for consulting? Do you feel when you finish work, (assuming we talking about an early evening) you have enough energy to do your hobbies or do something other than be too tired to do anything? On weekends, do you feel youre too tired to do anything and just sleep in? How bad is the mental toll? 

what is the work life balance like in strat consulting? i read somewhere that the Bain London office has a 1 early evening M-T, early Friday and no weekend policy? Is this only for Bain London, do other strat consulting companies in London do this? do you know which ones? 

I only ask this being burnt out is a feeling I do not wish on my worst enemy especially if the source of your burn out is from a firm / projects who at the end of the day doesnt really matter or doesn't matter enough where your body has to suffer

also, separate question, im seeing a lot of recession sentiment within the industry on various news channels / consulting websites. whats it like on the ground in London? are newbies getting their start dates pushed back? are a lot of people on the bench? are there lots of projects? has your firm (or what you heard from friends) communicated anything about employee cuts? 

 
  • I don't find it that taxing, no. At first, it was a bit of a shock to the system to actually work 100% of the time you spend at work (was used to folding a 40h job in 20h or having down time throughout the day). But once you get used to that, it's totally fine. What I do need at the end of the day is a couple of hours to myself, regardless of how late I finish, to be able to wind down though. Because while not taxing, you do get caught into the fast pace. So, it's like winding down after exercising.
    • Also my definition of mentally taxing is perhaps different, given my academic background
  • WLB is pretty good in London, and your sources are correct. We pick an early night in the week + early Fri + weekends free. And everybody works hard towards that and towards respecting it. Of course, we also try to be considerate, so I wouldn't put an early night the day before a big SteerCo. Not sure if the others do the same.
  • There have been start dates pushed back for the 2023 intakes, so only minimal uptake so far this year. Although our MBA SA class seems the same size as usual (but this is only ~10 weeks). We are having a bit of a reversal to the mean in terms of performance assessment (Covid years were a bit kinder than normal). So, some people are having to raise their game a little, but so far nothing dramatic that I've heard. We're managing costs, but we're doing our best to protect the people (and so far, given what I've seen, it's definitely true in London). But the bench has objectively been a little crowded lately.
 

i find the bench a cool concept tbf, you finish a project, and get a day or two off to recharge! 

what is your definition of mentally taxing? for me, someone who is mentally fatigued / burnt out is when your brain has this cloud over it where you can feel the analytical part of your brain is just worn out. your temples are in pain and its very hard to come up with creative / original ideas because you've just worn your brain out so much. some people equate it to depression, which i disagree with, as that would mean you dont have the will to do it. you are willing to work, its just you dont have the facilities for it. Would you agree? and if so, then the job doesnt tire your brain out?  

Fast pace jobs are very nice though, means time goes quick haha! 

Ah great! on the late evenings, what time do you, on average, clock out? im guessing anything north of 11pm? And the WLB setup you have at bain, do you know if any other firms offer this? MBB perhaps? or T2? 

whilst i have you, one question if you may!  i know you worked previously so you had some time. but if you was a new grad, do you think you'd find it hard to have a life with the job? in the sense that, because the job is so intense, its hard to start new things or try to add new things to your schedule. like pick up a new sport or start powerlifting for the first time. whereas its easier to maintain things you did before the job and keep it ticking alongside the job. i guess my question is would you recommend to sort that part of your life out before you get into the job, rather than wait till you get the job and start to explore things? 

 

First of all thank you for your other anwers, very insightful. Got a couple questions of my own:

1) For master's degree level hires, what sort of university of origin breakdown you see? For the UK unis, is it very much dominated by Oxbridge?

2) Are government/public sector projects common, and (given it's the London office) are they mostly concentrated in the UK or also spread a bit around the rest of Europe?

Thank you!!!

 

No problem! That's why I'm here :)

  1. Masters. Yes, Oxbridge does dominate very much, objectively, but we have tons of people with degrees from various non-Oxbridge non-London universities (inc. me) all the way up to Partner. Basically, Oxbridge makes your life easier, but still guarantees nothing and not going there won't be a penalty if your CV is otherwise exemplary/noteworthy. Remember, the CV is just to help you get the interview (along the online test). Then the offers will be based entirely on your interview performance, which are CV blind.
  2. Public sector. Sore subject for us in the UK. We were banned from public sector work for a few months last year by Rees-Mogg (it's an easy google), but we were reinstated in March (long story short, there was a scandal in South Africa back in 2018, where local partners messed up big big time. Since then, those people just flat out disappeared, no one knows where they are -- at least I don't have a clue). Point is, we have some government / public sector work, but it's not a big strength of ours. Objectively, I think B4 has the lion's share of those contracts.
  3. Location. We're mostly UK-based for our projects, I'd say 90-95% of the time. There are some teams or some people occasionally working on international projects (I'm on one right now), but that's not very frequent. Although, because it's London and we're a huge office, at any given time, there usually are a few of those around.
 

Very helpful answers, thank you.

Just follow on about location- within the UK, how much do the non-PE groups tend to travel? Did the pandemic have a lasting effect?

 

As an ex-London Bainie, just wanted to say thank you for doing the Lord's work truly.

 

100% agree and this is a pure goldmine, I wish I had this level of detail when I made the decision to move to Bain. To be honest loved my time there, but always nice to be as informed as possible before!

 

Good morning! Just last week, I made it to become an incoming associate at one of the Asian BCG offices. I graduated this semester, so currently I'm left with 6 months completely before beginning the work! I want to ask few questions, so thanks for replying :)

1. What hard/soft skills do I have to master before getting into the firm? I'm asking cuz I wanna be a competitive consultant definitely :) Also, I've heard many MBB firms nowadays use Alterys/Tableau/SQL, so I'm curious of whether I should study those. I'm currently incapable of any types of programming, but would love to study new fields!

2. I'm not a native English speaker, so I'm curious of to what extent I should practice my English verbal and written skills.

3. I'm planning on a few foreign trips, but other than that, could you recommend me 'must-do' items/experiences before joining the firm? Any recommendation would be fine. I'm also planning to learn golf.

4. I'm curious of how your first year went on, and please give me some advices regarding 'how to be a high-performing junior'!!!

Thanks for your help, and I highly appreciate your effort!

 
  1. Hard/Soft skills: the usual suspects around Excel / PowerPoint, financial modelling, building excel models, building compelling slides, presenting, communicating, synthesising large amounts of data, etc. But to be fair, if you already have your offer, just enjoy your time now and relax. You did the hard part, now relax. You'll learn everything you need on the job and through on-the-job training
  2. Language skills: I don't know what the language requirements are in your office, if it wasn't a super high criterion there, it might not be critical. But in general, just for yourself and in case you want to have the optionality of transfering to other offices comfortably, I'd recommend ensuring you are 100% comfortable working / communicating / interviewing experts in English. But again, it may be a secondary priority for your particular office if most business is done in your local language
  3. Pre-joining experiences: Anything you fancy like doing that you can afford! But enjoy the free time mostly :D
  4. First year: it was fun, felt like 3 years, but in a good way (densely packed and with people I like), frankly wouldnt change anything about that last year, professionally speaking. Here is a list of tips I wrote recently (some more tactical, some more general): link.
 

Hi there,

The type of degree will be less important than the quality (i.e., did you get top marks?). However, if you have an NYU Stern MBA, you're in a pretty good position already. A former Bainie, and a mentor of mine, is a Stern MBA graduate.

Be mindfful of: your application (high grades + solid work exp. + good MBA + extra curriculars) and of where you apply (NY/SF/CHI/BOS/LON are super popular, and thus a little more competitive than average).

 

Hi there,

The type of degree will be less important than the quality (i.e., did you get top marks?). However, if you have an NYU Stern MBA, you're in a pretty good position already. A former Bainie, and a mentor of mine, is a Stern MBA graduate.

Be mindfful of: your application (high grades + solid work exp. + good MBA + extra curriculars) and of where you apply (NY/SF/CHI/BOS/LON are super popular, and thus a little more competitive than average).

Thanks for responding. I did my MBA at Imperial/Warwick and came out with a distinction.

 

Just started my ACI summer - thanks for putting this together! Any advice on finding mentors and people to guide me throughout the summer? 

 

We don't do ACIs here in London, so I didn't realise you weren't allocated a mentor, even a temporary one, for the duration of your internship.

If one is not suggested, a general good port of call is to find someone, say a Consultant (maybe even an SAC), you get along with, but who doesn't supervise you directly, that you could speak to every couple of weeks or so, for general advice and check-up. I meet with my mentor every 3 weeks, give or take a few days.

For general guidance, talk to your SM on your case, at least once at the start, and keep regular PD chats with your direct supervisor. They'll be able to help you navigate the summer. Maybe share the areas you are confident you can add value in, and those you would like to work on more and learn.

 

Hi! Just about to join Bain soon as an AC, have 4 months before the job starts. What would you suggest for me to do now in order to get a head-start when I start working?

 

Congratulations & welcome!

The honest answer is for you to just enjoy your time until you start. But if you are the kind of person who needs to do something, you can always

  • take some simple ppt / excel courses online (for basic financial modelling + learning shortcuts)
  • continue building your business acumen by reading the FT / WSJ / BusinessWeek or listening to consulting / business podcasts (each MBB has a few of those)
  • review your class notes about marketing / finance / organisational behaviour / strategy / management from university, if you took a business major, or take some free online courses on Coursera, if you haven't

But honestly, I would only recommend you enjoy your summer. There is a time and a place for everything, and the time to learn about the job will be on the job :) Now, in terms of general working tips, I'd refer you to this thread: link. I have a list I wrote a few weeks back, and others contributed some excellent advice too (and objectively these are in some ways more important to know beforehand, I think).

Again, congratulations! And enjoy life in the meantime :)

 

Incredible thread, the depth and value in your answers is great - thank you!

A few questions from my end:

  • Would you recommend Bain to someone with 3-5 years Professional experience? I'm in a somewhat related industry and considering an application but frankly the hours and intensity of work is a bit off putting
  • What are 3 key things you've learned during your time at Bain, and what roles do you think this experience is most transferrable to?
  • Do you see yourself staying for the foreseeable, or are there certain avenues that are now more appealing given your time in PEG?  
  • Sorry to ask but heard down the grapevine that DEI can be a factor, is this remotely true or do you feel the hiring process is truly meritocratic? 
 
  • I just got off of a 14h day, so yeah, the hours can be quite long. I think it will depend on (a) your end goal with consulting / your career and (b) what you can comfortably handle:
    • if you want to get a bit of career accelerator and can handle 55-65h weeks regularly (but not forever), then you could try your chance and get out after 2-3 years
    • but if working more than 45h a week on a consistent basis is something that causes you a lot of stress / fatigue, then I absolutely do not recommend trying it (just not worth it)
  • I'd say so far it's been mostly soft skills / process related (I already knew most of the "harder" skills). I've mostly learned to:
    • do high-quality work faster (I could always do my job well, but never had to do it fast too
    • quickly prioritise and focus efforts on answer-changing areas (rather than be purely sequential in my work or check everything to the n-th degree)
    • manage upward more effectively to get the most out of my supervisors and be most efficient (instead of being passive/reactive)
      • Think this is most transferable to really any work setting if I'm honest- the soft skills you learn + quality of your execution shoot up dramatically, so it will enhance those tremendously. Harder skills aren't really a thing (to me anyways), but with this job you can learn to be "better" at everything you were good at before (assuming your other hard skills don't deteriorate too much while you're here)
  • I woulnd't mind staying if it were an option, but I would prefer to eventually exit to the gaming industry, so I'm currently working towards that goal
  • DEI can probably be a factor indeed, but frankly we've grown so much in the last 5 years, that we've recruited more from every demographic. There has been an effort to increase certain under-represented groups, so these have grown faster than the over-represented ones, yes. But on the whole, all groups have seen higher numbers in recruiting than in the past (given our growth figures, if this hadn't been the case then the most over-represented group would have become a minority by now, which is very far from being the case)
 

What an eloquent response, I really appreciate the time and thought you put into this message.

My only ask for further comment would be in relation to the soft skills you've picked up. Could you elaborate on this at all, how these have developed and what specific skills soft skills you feel you have picked up? This is something I haven't seen or heard elsewhere and would be critical to considering future career aspirations as superb soft skills really are an accelerator in all aspects of life.

Thanks again!

 

This is definitely one of the better Q&As I’ve had the pleasure of stumbling on. Thank you for your detailed responses!

In terms of your social life outside of work, would you say that the hours you’ve been working has had a negative impact on this? Is maintaining a romantic relationship while trying to be the best consultant you can at Bain be impossible?

 

Thanks! I guess my tendency for extended lengthy responses finds a use at last!

Private life can absolutely be a concern in this line of work, just like in other high-paced jobs. I average 55h as an AC, but I have friends who are Consultants and Managers, and their hours usually are around 5-10h more a week (and in nightmare DDs can go to >75h, exc. week-ends).

Typically, of those maintaining relationships, I see mostly two types:

  1. Couples who have been together for a long time. I then assume that (a) the relationship has a more solid foundation and (b) their partner knows they were with someone who would go on to have that kind of career (even if it's only for a few years)
  2. People who found partners in equally (if not more) demanding jobs: IB, PE, other consultants, etc. Then it's pretty easy for them to understand that you staying in the office until 11pm is because you actually have work to do and not because of other reasons.

Now, there is a 3rd category, but it usually falls within type 1 above, which concerns more senior folks (Senior Managers / Associate Partners / Partners), who may have kids as well as a husband / wife / life-long partner. Those tend to prioritise their personal life when they can, and when it has the most impact, e.g., 6-8pm to spend time with their kids / partner and not think of work. That can totally work, but you do need to make it there first. and odds are that you'll probably work between 9-11pm to review work / talk to clients / etc.

For me, it works out pretty well, I'm usually too busy during the week to do anything else, but at the weekend I travel a lot, see friends, etc. Luckily for me during the week, I like the people I work with, so it does make the 50-60h easier (although bad case experiences and occasionally bad supervisors do happen, like anywhere).

It's up to you, if you really value having your own time every day from 5-6pm to see friends / family / SOs or engage in your hobbies / passions / etc. or even just rest, then frankly consulting would be a no-go. But hey, I know people who are getting engaged, married, having kids, or taking care of their family, all while being very good at their job here, so anything's possible.