Bain & Company
Bain & Company aims to do things differently from its competitors; its modus operandi strives to deliver ‘results, not reports’. Headquartered in Boston, it is known for its first class work on everything from M&A to private equity investments, basing its fees on the financial results it achieves for its clients.
Great personal development and great culture.
- Very good training and mentoring
- Supportive and friendly work environment
- Work/life balance is a key priority
- Exceptional commitment to diversity, across the board
- Solid pay and benefits
- The long hours, which in turn eat away at the work/life balance
- Cases can last longer than competitors' – you get the depth but not breadth
- Constant pressure to perform well can be overbearing
Bain & Company is one of the biggest and most respected names in consulting. Yet from the beginning, Bainies (as they’re known in the industry) aimed to do things a little differently from their competitors. The firm bases its fees on the financial results it achieves for its clients, acquiring contracts through word-of-mouth referrals, and following the belief that consultants should deliver ‘results, not reports’. Known for its work on everything from M&A to private equity investments, Boston headquartered Bain & Company employs over 5,000 in 42 offices, across 27 different countries.
The London office was established in 1979, and services a large range of corporate clients – more than 40% of the FTSE 100, in fact. In addition to the London branch, the firm has spread its wings across the Continent, setting up shop in Amsterdam, Brussels, Düsseldorf, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Paris, Rome, Stockholm and Zurich. Bain now has more offices in Europe than in any other region; the upshot of which being more revenue comes from its Continental operations than either the North American or Asian markets.
That said, Bain is not satisfied with leaving the rest of the globe untapped. Like its consulting peers, Bain has been targeting booming areas, such as India and the Middle East, for business. But unlike its competitors, the firm is specifically targeting strategy work, rather than limiting its Indian offerings to outsourcing.
When Bill Bain left the Boston Consulting Group in 1973, he took with him a number of consultants and clients to found Bain & Company. Starting out as a three person operation in his basement, the company grew quickly, expanding into the UK market only six years later. By 1983, the firm had begun investing in its own clients and soon after began a policy of accepting equity as part of its compensation with its PE clients. In 1984, Bain Capital was launched as a spin off, and currently holds over $50 billion in assets, having invested in more than 250 companies. It is a completely separate company to Bain & Co and shares neither governance nor ownership.
In 1994, Bain became the first consulting company to establish a private equity practice. It is currently the market leader, having worked on more than half of all US and European private equity transactions worth over $1 billion in the last 10 years. This hugely successful practice provides clients – mostly leveraged buyout firms and hedge funds – with fund strategy, sector screening and deal generation, due diligence, portfolio company performance improvement and exit planning. Bain has, in part, these over performing clients to thank for its strong reputation: its clients have historically outperformed the stock market 4 to 1... at least until now! So not to rest on its laurels, Bain also implemented a clever brand reinvention strategy to help it gain greater name recognition.
Around 50% of Bain’s clients are featured among the Global 2000; the remaining are mostly private equity, small and mid-sized companies. The firm’s diverse clients hail from numerous industries, spanning aerospace and defence, automotive, consumer products, energy and utilities, financial services, health care, industrial products, media, non-profit, retail, technology, telecommunications and transportation, and include a mix of multinational firms and global companies.
Not to be out done in the altruistic stakes, Bain founded the affiliate the Bridgespan Group, in 2000, to customise management strategy approaches for non-profit clients, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Diabetes UK, Save the Children and the UCLA Johnson Cancer Centre Foundation. Around 15% of Bain’s staff rotate into Bridgespan for 6 month periods to gain experience in the sector.
In London, community support is encouraged, with an integrated community involvement programme, Bain Cares, which provides strategic and operational advice to Business Action on homelessness. Additionally, staffers take part in educational efforts in local schools by tutoring and mentoring students, planting trees, painting homeless shelters etc. And twice a year, the firm holds a ‘community impact day’, during which all employees participate in some form of community work.Read all 232 employee quotes
Bain looks to top European and US schools when seeking its next crop of candidates and encourages applications from all backgrounds: undergraduates, MBAs, Masters, graduate students and PHDs – with degrees ranging from history and philosophy to economics.
The firm hosts recruiting events all over the continent. In the UK, Bain is a frequent visitor to the London School of Economics, London Business School or Oxford and Cambridge.However, the firm also welcomes applications from students not on the usual university target list.
Once hired, Bain typically moulds its consultants into generalists. The firm encourages work on a whole range of projects across different fields, and places a strong emphasis on training, with consultants meeting worldwide for intensive sessions.
The Hiring Process
Interested candidates should submit an application (CV and cover letter) to their preferred location, but also specify the other sites they would be interested in. Beware: competition is fierce, so Bain is quite selective when it comes to granting interviews.
As soon as you submit your application, you should receive a confirmation email. The wait will be over by early January, when you will be informed of the outcome of your application and if successful, asked to interview a week or two later.
The process generally involves two rounds of interviews, which are slightly different depending on the role you’re applying for. Those applying for an associate consultant role can expect two 30 minute case/experience interviews in round one, followed by three 35 to 45minute case interviews in the second. MBAs and consultants should be prepared for two case interviews in the first round and two to four case/experience interviews in the second.
The first interview will be with two ‘Bainies’ – one associate consultant and one consultant – and consists of two parts. Candidates will initially field a handful of questions about their work history and motivations for the role, before spending 20 minutes or so on a case study. These studies are based on real situations, not hypothetical scenarios; and as such, Bain is looking for practical solutions, not academic ones. There’s also some time for Q&A at the end. For the second interview, get ready for a case study with a Bain manager. They will begin by giving you detailed background on the problem – no need to panic as you’ll get time to write these down! You will then be asked to analyse the problem and offer solutions. The case study question will be something like this: ‘The Chief Executive of a fruit juice manufacturing company in Spain has called in Bain. The company's profits have fallen by 20% in the last financial year. Bain has been asked to help work out what has gone wrong and how to fix it. I want you to structure the problem and work through to a possible solution. Also expect numerical cases, as Bain likes to put its candidates' mathematical prowess to the test. For an overview of the questions you might be asked, go to www.joinbain.com, pick an office and pay special attention to the explanation of the interview process.
You will be informed by the end of the day whether or not you’ve made it through to the second round. If you have, you will be invited to attend three interviews in London about two weeks later. Two of these will be similar to the case study interview that you had in the first round. The third interview will be a written case study, where you will have 40 minutes to answer written questions on a hypothetical problem. You will then run through your answers verbally with your interviewer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand a term – they are not expecting you to be business extraordinaires – but they do want to see your strategic and analytical skills in action.
As in most cases, an internship at Bain provides an invaluable springboard to joining the ranks as a full-time employee. Moreover, internships offer a fantastic opportunity to see what life as a consultant is really like – they provide an insight into the firm, its culture and people. Most participants leave Bain’s internship programme happy to accept a full-time offer.
Employer Type: Private Company
No. of Employees: 5,000
No. of offices: 41
Chairwoman: Orit Gadiesh
Worldwide Managing Director: Steve Ellis
Associate Consultant: £34,000 - £36,000 (Approx.)
Senior Associate Consultant: £43,000 - £57,000 (Approx.)
Consultant: £70,000 - £75,000 (Approx.)
Cost & Supply Chain Management
Customer Strategy & Marketing
Mergers & Acquisitions
Bain has just been certified as carbon neutral for 2013, and 'The Green Team' regularly host initiatives throughout the office.Entry level, LondonHelpful?
Bain is very diverse. The company makes a conscious effort to reach out to minorities and the London office is extremely welcoming to people of all backgrounds. There is a lot of flexibility around maternity leave and part time working hours.Graduate, LondonHelpful?
Annual office wide community work day and regular support for pro bono and charity work.Experienced, LondonHelpful?
The hours can definitely be hard and standards are high, but generally people are aware the job can be demanding.Entry level, LondonHelpful?
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