What it does: Management consulting/business strategy advice
Staff stats: Around 12,000 globally spread across 85 offices in 48 countries. Around 30 partners and 400 staff in Australia.
The good bits: Impressive colleagues, varied and fascinating work, lots of travel
The not so good bits: Lots of pressure, tight deadlines, huge hours
The Boston Consulting Group
Back in 1963 a Harvard Business School grad called Bruce Henderson quit his job at a consulting firm and set up a consulting unit for a bank called The Boston Company. Henderson, who’d previously managed to be appointed vice president of the Westinghouse Corporation at the tender age of 37, decided to focus on business strategy.
In the mid-70s, via an employee an employee stock ownership plan, Henderson was able to split off and purchase what became known as the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). By his retirement in 1980, Henderson’s creation had become a global firm with seven offices and 249 consultants. Last year it had revenues of US$5.6 billion.
Henderson was a one-off, a genius who came up with concepts such as the ‘experience curve’ and ‘growth-share matrix’ that are still used today. Nonetheless, the business he created continues to expand long after his departure. BCG is now widely acknowledged as the world’s leading advisor on business strategy. It partners with private, public, and not-for-profit organisations. It identifies their highest-value opportunities, addresses their critical challenges and transforms their enterprises.
BCG considers all appropriately qualified applicants. This is done without regard to their race, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin or disability. Its Women@BCG networking group aims to increase the number, job satisfaction and success of female staff. Its Flexibility@Work program, along with other work-life balance initiatives, aims to assist staff who are new parents. BCG has been showered with ‘Best Places to Work’ awards from Fortune and Working Mother magazines, LGBTI organisations and Glassdoor.
Globally, BCG is involved in around 300 social impact projects and partners with 150 organisations at any one time. BCG works with charities, not-for-profits and government organisations, what it calls ‘social impact partners’. It helps them improve their efficiency and thus increase their humanitarian impact. BCG is also at the forefront of forging public-private partnerships to create change. It facilitates companies thinking outside the corporate social responsibility box to create change in innovative and sustainable ways. Through its Social Impact Immersion Program and Social Impact Secondments, BCG allows staff to spend a year working with its social impact partners. Staff can also take a leave of absence to spend up to a year working at a social sector organisation of their choice.
The recruitment process
BCG looks for “passionate, open-minded individuals, with a range of academic backgrounds and work experiences”. Obviously, it needs business, finance and economic grads. But it also employs people who’ve studied engineering, science, law, medicine and the humanities. There are three main career paths at BCG: Consulting; Knowledge and Analytics and Business Services.
Getting a spot in BCG’s grad program is the corporate equivalent of being selected to join the Australian cricket team. The easy part of the process is an online application. This needs to include a cover letter, resume, academic transcripts and your geographical preferences in relation to BCG’s Australian offices. (The options are Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.) The hard part comes if you’re invited in for BCG’s notoriously exacting case-study-based interviews. After being questioned about your background and encouraged to volunteer any proof of leadership ability, you’ll be given a case study, usually one inspired by an actual BCG project. You’ll then be expected to devise solutions for the challenges your hypothetical client is facing.
A 2016 Business Insider story ranked BCG as having the second-best paying grad program of its kind in Australia. Reportedly, you can expect a base salary of $75,000, a signing bonus of $5000 and a performance bonus of up to $16,500, not to mention a relocation allowance of up to $8,000.
Then there are the travel opportunities. More than 25 per cent of BCG consultants work outside their countries every year. There’s the conventional 12 or 24-month transfer or a secondment lasting up to one year. There’s also the opportunity to participate in a cross-office project or global program, or be selected for the Africa Talent Program.
There’s a structured career progression that runs from Associate to Consultant to Project Leader to Principal to Partner. If you aspire to make partner you’ll need to become an “intellectual leader” who inspires “innovation throughout the company”.
The vibe of the place
BCG has a work culture premised on the belief that “innovation can only thrive in an environment of openness, flexibility and mutual respect”. What that means in practice is staff at any level are encouraged to contribute their ideas. BCGers are also encouraged to pursue a career path that’s right for them. Whatever that path is you can expect to be surrounded by impressive colleagues, have plenty of travel opportunities and undertake important and challenging work.
From the Employer:
"Build. Connect. Grow. with BCG
Build. In an increasingly complex world, we go deep to unlock insight and have the courage to act.
Connect. It's pretty simple – we genuinely want to help our clients and each other succeed.
Grow. To truly develop yourself, you have to challenge established thinking. You have to seek a better way.
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a global management consulting firm and the world's leading advisor on business strategy to major corporations, government bodies and not-for-profits.
At BCG, your talent and ambition are just the starting point for a life-changing experience in which you will grow personally and shape the future of many companies. By working with the world's leading businesses on their toughest strategic and operational questions, with inspiring people in an environment of creativity and performance, you will grow into a responsible leader and learn to make a difference within BCG and beyond."