Inside View: Bain & Company Digital

There's a wealth of new MBA job opportunities in Bain’s technology unit

At Bain Digital, business is booming.

Companies are flooding through its gates in search of strategies for managing technologies that are rapidly reshaping industries, from data and advanced analytics to artificial intelligence and robotics.

“The proliferation of data, connectivity of devices and continued increases in computing power are big trends creating demand for digital,” says Elizabeth Spaulding, a partner at Bain & Company and head of the firm’s global digital practice.

For MBAs, that means a wealth of new job opportunities in Bain’s digital unit.

“We have been aggressive in hiring in that space,” Elizabeth says. “We are building a team of champions with specific technology expertise,” adds Elizabeth, who herself holds an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

Few firms command as much prestige on campus as Bain does.

The Massachusetts based management consultancy firm is probably the best place to work in America, if you’re into the charts. It frequently tops the world’s best employer rankings, trumping Glassdoor’s 2014 list of the “Best Places to Work”, and it finished No. 1 in this summer’s “Vault 50” ranking of the best consulting firms to work for.

Elizabeth says what’s attractive about Bain is the scale of impact employees can have at the firm.

“An advantage of consulting is the ability to broaden your skill-set across industries, topics and types of projects; being able to grow on so many different dimensions,” she says. Neda Kostadinova, an INSEAD MBA who’s worked at Bain’s London office for four years, notes that you get to work on a great variety of different projects.

Bain is also renowned for a results-driven culture that is supportive of employees’ professional and personal growth.

“We pride ourselves on hiring fantastic folks and having the best training available for them,” says Elizabeth.

The firm employs around 6,000 consultants in 53 offices globally. But let’s be honest, getting in aint easy. Bain is the world’s fifth most selective employer, according to a survey by Glassdoor.

So what can consultants do to land a coveted job at the firm?

We asked Elizabeth to share what Bain really seeks in a new hire. Here’s an edited version of what she said:  

MBAs at Bain: A huge source of our talent is out of undergraduate programs and business schools, and we pride ourselves on hiring fantastic folks. The skill-set from business school is the foundation of how we help companies overcome their most difficult challenges. MBA programs have long been a great source for growing our talent base. There are a tremendous number of MBAs working in Bain’s global digital practice already.

Job opportunities: Most people rotate on a variety of projects and have the ability to sample different work. We create a diversity of opportunities — in our private equity practice, for example, or the huge social impact practice. A big benefit to hires is that they can create impact not just in the for-profit world but in the non-profit world too.

Day-to-day work: We think a lot of what we do is parallel to the product manager roles at Google, Facebook or Amazon. There are four main approaches we take to help clients really embrace and take advantage of digital. We ensure clients:

1)      Create a robust and dynamic digital agenda — where in that value chain does tech have the most ability to impact, disrupt, and create new opportunities?

2)      Invest in IT — a lot of our clients have legacy systems. We help them chose the right infrastructure; we reboot their IT systems to take advantage of digital tech.

3)      Hone a risk-taking culture — at lot of the digital native companies, there’s a “fail fast” mentality, which tends to not be the norm in big established organizations. We try to infuse that experimentation into clients’ cultures.

4)      Have agility — being able to move much more quickly. We see the innovation cycle becoming increasingly quick.

Skills needed: We have always hired a diverse set of backgrounds and our main focus is on great critical thinkers, people who are focused on creating impact, making change, and that will thrive in the supportive culture we have at Bain.

Digital expertise: We consider ourselves the leader in clients’ big technology transformations and we have to integrate that digital skill-set into our practice. There are areas where we need to bring in folks that have distinctive expertise.

The network: There are great examples of so many of our alums who have taken the consulting skill-set and gone on to start companies at the center of technology, such as Warby Parker or Birchbox. That really speaks to the kind of impact you can have after Bain.

Career progression: You should be open to trying a lot of new things and be passionate about what you’re trying. The diversity is what helps you grow. Having exposure to a variety of topics and building out that balanced skill-set is a must.

Working culture: Part of what attracted me to Bain was the results focus of it, which is why I’ve stuck around for so long. Also, the diversity of experiences you get in consulting, it’s easy to underestimate that. I’ve appreciated the combination of social impact work and being able to create change in different environments.

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