Bain & Company
  • Consulting

What it does: Management consulting
Staff stats: Over 6000 globally
The good bits: Amazing opportunities to work on tough projects with smart driven people
The not so good bits: Challenging hours & being thrown in the deep end

The Bain story
Bain & Company, commonly referred to as Bain, was formed by a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) high-flyer called William Bain. Frustrated at waiting around for a shot at the CEO role and BCG’s project-based approach and lack of follow through in helping clients execute advice, Bain started his own consulting firm in 1973.

Within weeks several of BCG’s big clients, including Black & Decker and Texas Instruments, had jumped ship and Bain was on its way to becoming a global behemoth. The firm hit a rough patch in the 1980s but came good after (future Presidential candidate) Mitt Romney was...

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What it does: Management consulting
Staff stats: Over 6000 globally
The good bits: Amazing opportunities to work on tough projects with smart driven people
The not so good bits: Challenging hours & being thrown in the deep end

The Bain story
Bain & Company, commonly referred to as Bain, was formed by a Boston Consulting Group (BCG) high-flyer called William Bain. Frustrated at waiting around for a shot at the CEO role and BCG’s project-based approach and lack of follow through in helping clients execute advice, Bain started his own consulting firm in 1973.

Within weeks several of BCG’s big clients, including Black & Decker and Texas Instruments, had jumped ship and Bain was on its way to becoming a global behemoth. The firm hit a rough patch in the 1980s but came good after (future Presidential candidate) Mitt Romney was appointed CEO and William Bain sold out. Romney restructured the business, rejigged profit-sharing arrangements and introduced more transparency around remuneration. By 1993 the firm was growing strongly again and it has enjoyed growth rates of around 15 per cent per annum for the last couple of decades.   

The company now has 55 offices in 36 countries. In Australia, it has offices in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

Bain is characteristically coy about its client list. It does note that “whether you're interested in consumer electronics, consumer products, finance, transportation, healthcare, energy or nonprofits, the chances are good that you know our work”.

Bain takes a wide-ranging generalist approach, providing advice to many of the world’s biggest companies on private equity investments, mergers and acquisitions, corporate strategy, finance, operations and market analysis. Bain boasts that its clients see a 500-1000 per cent return on the money they spend on getting advice. It’s believed Bain has annual revenues in the region of US$3.7-4.5 billion.  

The culture
Bain is committed to providing US$1 billion worth of pro bono consulting work between 2015-2025. It aspires to drive “transformative social impact” by partnering with organisations that “have pioneered and scaled models of change that demonstrably work”.

Bain is focused on working with nonprofits and schools to improve the futures of disadvantaged children, as well as helping its clients foster inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Bain is an active member of the World Economic Forum. This “provides a platform for leaders from all stakeholder groups from around the world – business, government and civil society – to come together” (to address global problems).

Bain staff are supported to “pursue the causes they are most passionate about and develop as social leaders”. Employees can apply for ‘externships’. If successful, they are granted leave, often for several months, to work with NGOs or public-sector organisations.

Social contribution
Bain is committed to providing US$1 billion worth of pro bono consulting work between 2015-2025. It aspires to drive “transformative social impact” by partnering with organisations that “have pioneered and scaled models of change that demonstrably work”.

Bain is focused on working with nonprofits and schools to improve the futures of disadvantaged children, as well as helping its clients foster inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

Bain is an active member of the World Economic Forum. This “provides a platform for leaders from all stakeholder groups from around the world – business, government and civil society – to come together” (to address global problems).

Bain staff are supported to “pursue the causes they are most passionate about and develop as social leaders”. Employees can apply for ‘externships’. If successful, they are granted leave, often for several months, to work with NGOs or public-sector organisations.

The recruitment process
Bain has been enjoying strong growth in recent years and hiring lots of entry-level staff with undergraduate and postgraduate (especially MBA) degrees. Grads typically join Bain as associate consultants. (Bain offers associate consultant internships at offices elsewhere in the world but not in Australia.)

Bain prefers to recruit grads from prestigious universities. This means you’ll have a head start if you’ve studied at ANU, Monash, or the Universities of Melbourne, Queensland, New South Wales or Western Australia. (Students at those universities can expect to see Bain recruiters at their campus career fairs.)

Having strong analytical abilities, an outstanding academic record and bucketloads of drive is a necessary but not sufficient condition to get a job at Bain. You’ll also need the ability to “frame complex problems, think creatively, find pragmatic solutions and have a Monday-morning plan”. These problem-solving skills “may come in the form of team experience, academic achievement, group involvement or personal projects”. You’ll need to demonstrate leadership “whether through work, school or extracurricular activities”. You’ll need to show “how you've been instrumental in making a quantifiable difference to an organisation, project or team's success”. Given “passion is non-negotiable” at Bain, you’ll need to convince your interviewers you’re “enthusiastic and tenacious about solving puzzles”. You’ll also need to assure them you “yearn to succeed as [an] individual and as part of a team” and are “committed to creating change in [your] work and in the world”.

As long as you meet all those criteria, the degree you have doesn’t seem to be important, though those who’ve studied something business-related presumably have an advantage. 

The application process begins by filling out a form online and uploading a cover letter, CV, academic transcript and list of preferences ranking the offices you’d like to work at. If you make the cut, you’ll then take part in some combination of the following type of interviews. A case interview, which will provide an opportunity to demonstrate how you solve problems. A written case interview where you will “review your client's situation, present a persuasive recommendation that considers the trade-offs of each possible action or choice and then participate in a rich discussion with your interviewer to determine how your client could best achieve results”. There’s also an experience interview. This provides an opportunity to highlight your achievements, discuss your passions and explain why you wish to pursue a career in consulting at Bain.

Bain is big on “global, world-class training”. New associate consultants appear to go through a 20-month program involving an induction, new consultant training and, later on, experienced consultant training.  

Remuneration
Associate consultants start on around $85,000, a salary that almost doubles upon their promotion to a consultant role. If you make partner, the sky is the limit. For example, former CEO Mitt Romney is estimated to be worth US$250 million. He would probably now be a billionaire if he’d remained at Bain rather than pursuing a political career. 

Career prospects
Bain offers industry-leading “comprehensive, individualised training” to “ensure you have the tools you need to succeed at Bain and beyond”. Staff engage in continuous professional development and have access to both “the very best trainers from around the world” and Bain’s Virtual University, which has over 600 multimedia modules.

The firm’s professional development program seems to be effective. Bain alumni have gone on to become the CEOs of companies such as PwC, eBay, Kraft Group, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, YouTube, Myer, Citigroup, American Express and Jetstar, as well as found companies such as Amadeus Capital Partners, Intuit, L.E.K. Consulting and Zynga.  

The vibe of the place
Even after the departure of its secretive founder William Bain, Bain has remained cautious about revealing too much to outsiders, or even insiders. If you’re offered a role, you can expect to have to sign a non-disclosure contract and adhere to a strict ‘code of confidentiality’. But whatever goes on in Bain offices, the staff seem to like it. The company regularly takes out top rankings in ‘best places to work’ surveys.

 

Star Rating: Not available

 

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Ella Thomson Bain & Co
Employer Insight

Ella Thompson studied LLB/BSc (physics) at University of Otago and is now an Associate Consultant at Bain & Co.

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