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Senior Associate Consultant, Toronto

Everyone comes in with a lot to learn, and we all get there with commitment, optimism, and a lot of support from fellow Bainies. double-quote-close

Why Bain?

As an international student in the humanities, I didn't have a clue about management consulting. Then I discovered consulting as a way to help me develop a stronger foundation in analysis and management, and to reach my dream of leading a nonprofit in LGBTQ issues. Once I decided on consulting, I knew Bain was the best fit for me because of the culture and the people. Everyone here cares about how you are feeling and whether you are growing. My managers all put their heart and soul into providing concrete feedback with ways to better develop my skills, and peers take the time to teach each other everything from computer shortcuts to career development. Beyond supporting one another, Bain is a community where people connect in an authentic way. We socialize often and get to know each other as multifaceted people with many backgrounds, hobbies, and aspirations. We are not just colleagues – we are friends who get together to enjoy cooking, trapeze classes, hikes, sports games, and more!

Bain's flexible options were also a draw, and I've taken advantage of both the transfer and the externship. I started as an intern in San Francisco and returned there full-time, but transferred to Washington, DC after a year to launch the office and get to know the public interest community. I went on externship a year after transferring, and worked at the World Bank's DC headquarters on K-12 curriculum reform for Vietnam (with time in Hanoi as well).

My passion

My passion is serving the LGBTQ community, and I’ve had several ways of tapping into that passion at Bain. In my first case, I worked with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation to develop a strategy to reduce HIV infections among men who have sex with men in the local area. It was fascinating to better understand the latest developments in prevention and treatment, and deeply moving to collaborate with community leaders who lived through the worst of the epidemic. As part of a holistic approach to HIV prevention, the first gay men’s health center is now opening in the Castro – a concrete result of our work. I also served as the global undergraduate recruiting lead for BGLAD, Bain's LGBTQ network. I loved getting to know students across different campuses and connecting them to a community of out LGBTQ professionals. Many mentors helped me along my way to see my LGBTQ identity as a source of strength, and I am so proud to do the same for students in the next generation.

My favorite case

My favorite recent case was in IT strategy for a leading US university in the South. The relationships I build with the client and seeing how our work positively impacts their experience really motivates me, and this case was memorable for both. The client did not have a strategy or an organization that gave them the maximum bang for the buck they were spending on IT. Consequently, much of their IT infrastructure was out of date, overly complicated, and uncoordinated, even though they were spending the money. In this day an age, this of course has big effects on the effectiveness and efficiency of instruction, research, and administration. The team helped craft an IT strategy and road map that gave them focus and metrics for success. My part in the work was leading one of the critical technology upgrades that would kick off the overhaul, specifically one that would make financial planning much more efficient and accurate. I built an overall plan and coordinated the upgrade’s initial phase, helping the client analyse usage data, understand the technological and organizational roadblocks, and gather input from stakeholders across the university. We bridged an eight-year technology gap together, and I saw first-hand the improvements on the finance staff’s day-to-day work. Their work was quicker, their numbers were more accurate, and they could better direct the university’s investments in student learning and cutting-edge research. The collaborative process and tangible results drew us all together, Bainies and staff from all over the university alike. By the end, we became friends who shared jokes and food, getting kicked out of conference rooms because we would chat through the room’s next reservation.

My personal results story

I worked on a pro bono case for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF), helping them with a strategy to reduce HIV infections among local gay men. I can’t imagine a more personal and proud results story than the role I played in figuring out the potential impact and financial needs of the new gay men’s health center. When I first joined Bain, I had never used Excel before (not even once!), and the most complicated "quantitative data" I had worked with was my personal finance. I was understandably anxious when my role on the SFAF case was to build a model. The model would estimate the cost-effectiveness and impact on HIV infections for over a dozen programs, and we would use it to plan for the center, giving answers such as, "Yes, we should provide A for B people over a year, and this will cost $X and require Y staff." Thanks to the nurturing support from my team and peers (plus formal training in the office and at Cape Cod), I became much more comfortable with modeling and complex sets of quantitative data. In the end, my model was the foundation for planning services and finances. Not only did an ex-leader of the Center for Disease Control call it "one of the most impressive models I've seen," but the SFAF was still referencing the model more than a year after the case finished.

My perspective on diversity at Bain

BGLAD, Bain's LGBTQ network, has been an integral part of my Bain experience from even before "Day 1". BGLAD employees, who would later become mentors and friends, introduced me to the firm when I attended the Out for Undergraduate Business Conference (OUBC) as a junior (if you’re an LGBTQ undergrad – attend OUBC!). They supported me throughout the interview process and to this day remain friends that I seek out for advice on anything from case work to business school to my long-term career. BGLAD is a tight-knit yet global community where I've met some of my best friends in life, friends who have hosted me in places as different as Stockholm and Dallas. Perhaps even more importantly, my positive experience as an LGBTQ Bainees goes way beyond BGLAD. Bainees from across the world have been proactive and vocal allies who always ask how they can help. They show genuine interest in my activism, often lending their time and advice, whether for recruiting, the AIDS Walk, or my own volunteer projects. Both colleagues and clients have seen my willingness to share about my LGBTQ experience as a sign of trust and authenticity. Recruits sometimes wonder if being out is a hindrance– for me, being true to myself has only ever been a big boost to my success and well-being.

A final thought

Be open to all the different places and experiences that can give you the skills to succeed, whatever your ambitions are. I had ruled out work in the private sector until I realized how much I could learn, and how much influence the private sector had on community development from workplace equality to social entrepreneurship. Give yourself the full range of options to choose from; follow your calling but don't shut any doors!

Be confident. I was afraid that not having much coursework in economics, finance, accounting, or even math would completely sink my chances. But in time, I just let my background inform reflections on the strengths and weaknesses I bring to the table. Everyone comes in with a lot to learn, and we all get there with commitment, optimism, and a lot of support from fellow Bainies. Of course, it can't hurt to revisit some arithmetic.

Reach out to all the folks you can during the recruiting, including folks in any of your affinity groups. Everyone is happy to help you determine your fit with consulting and Bain, not to mention interview preparation.

Pay attention to the people, no matter what job you are considering. Chances are, you'll spend most of your time with a team wherever you go, so make sure you like the people you'll be with. Can you see yourself having fun and feeling comfortable with the folks you've met? If you've visited the office, did you get a good vibe? Do these seem like the people who will transition to a professional life, the people who will tell you the truth, who will be lifelong mentors?