graduate consultant at Bain & Company

Bain & Company: how to get hired

Imogen Buchan is an associate consultant at Bain & Company. She studied engineering science at the University of Oxford.
Focus on taking a leadership role in one society rather than being a part of lots half-heartedly.

What made you choose management consulting?

I wanted to work in a fast-paced environment and be surrounded by young, ambitious colleagues. I also loved the idea of working with a variety of industries, projects and clients.

Did you do any work experience before starting full-time work?

I completed two internships with Jaguar Land Rover over my university summers which gave me experience in industry and interesting projects to talk about in interviews. They also helped me realise which characteristics I did and didn’t want in a graduate job.

What do you think made you stand out from the other candidates?

I was president of the engineering society at university which showed my leadership skills and gave me lots of interesting experience to draw on. My work experience may also have stood out from the usual banks and consultancies.

What was the most challenging part of the application process?

Interview preparation – it’s important to be very comfortable with case studies and talking about your past experience but not to prep to the extent that you won’t be relaxed and show your true character.

What is your role in the team?

My experience so far at Bain & Company has included anything from collecting data via surveys or expert interviews, performing analysis and generating insights from it, to holding discussions with senior clients, preparing presentations and organising workshops.

What is the work/life balance like?

Recently I have been working about 50 hours a week but this varies greatly depending on the case – hours have been more and less intense than this. It’s often possible to shuffle your work around or work from different locations. For the time you do spend in the office you are surrounded by great people who enjoy having a laugh, which makes a huge difference to the whole experience.

What gives you a buzz?

There is no end of really interesting content – I’m introduced to new industries, companies, teams and even countries every couple of months, getting to work on the issues which are right at the top of a client’s agenda.

What training and support have you received so far?

Bain’s formal training programmes are a lot of fun and a great opportunity to meet the wider, global, network of Bainies. The trainers assume no prior knowledge and teach you everything you need to know, catering to people from all kinds of backgrounds. However, the majority of the training that you get is on the job, apprenticeship style working closely with your direct supervisors.

What skills in particular do you think you’ve developed?

I’ve developed an understanding of how businesses work in different industries, what the common pitfalls are and what’s going to be important in the future. My analytical skills have really improved, learning how to think critically about a business problem and use rigorous analysis and insight to really crack it. I also have an understanding of financials which were completely alien to me before joining Bain.

Any advice for current students?

Focus on taking a leadership role in one society rather than being a part of lots half-heartedly. Also, use your time at university to learn career skills which are not always on the syllabus, such as presentation, interview and people skills.

Top three skills for a successful consultant?

Drive/ambition, people skills and problem solving