I'm Venetia, and I joined Bain a little more than two years ago. Before that I was a lawyer. I started as an associate consultant (AC), and after two years I become a senior associate consultant and then a consultant.
At the point that I decided to change careers, I had become pretty specialized in what I was doing. I was a corporate tax lawyer, and I was looking for something to broaden my experience and my understanding of business. I wanted to focus on the things that execs really care about. Part of me had begun to feel like the problem had been solved before I got involved, and I wanted to be part of shaping the solution. That was why consulting really appealed to me.
"I was a corporate tax lawyer, and I was really looking for something that would broaden my experience."
My favorite work since I've been at Bain has been in the Private Equity Group, which is also where I spend most of my time. What I absolutely love about private equity is that you have a short amount of time to get really deep into an industry and build expert status. That can be through talking to external experts or experts within Bain, and just developing, very quickly, an understanding of what makes that industry work. Also, there's an enormous amount of range and variety, so in the year I was with the group, I covered shipping, financial services, cosmetics, hairdryers, clothing—just a vast array of stuff, which was extremely exciting.
Within that, my very favorite case was in clothing, trying to understand the brand positioning of a company across several markets. I was running five different consumer surveys. What's great about a consumer survey, especially about a brand that you know, is understanding how the rest of the world sees that brand. You get so much insight into people in a way that you wouldn't have particularly expected.
Being at Bain has made me think in a totally different way. Coming from a law background, I've gone from being very focused on the detail and the minutiae to a much broader picture—trying to start from the top, work out where the value really lies and then get into the details that way.
The biggest change for me has been moving from the AC role, where you're focusing on the analysis itself, to SAC and to consultant, where you take on the role of managing other people, coaching them and helping them to learn the things you've learned. I've found it extremely rewarding to be able to pass on experience; that was something I didn't have in my previous career.
The advice I'd give to someone considering Bain would be not to undervalue the experience you already have. Even if it doesn't seem at all related to consulting, it almost certainly has some value. One of the things that's really struck me since I joined Bain is the colorful array of people here and the different experiences they've had. Medics and vets, people who are in the army, engineers, lawyers—there's almost every career you could imagine. As a lawyer, I already had some client skills, but my legal background has come into play in other ways that were totally unexpected, like dealing with lawyers on the other side and reading legal documents. That experience has been very valuable.