BAIN & COMPANY
“Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” according to Peter Drucker. What happens when you have both?
You have Bain.
Bain & Company is known as a culture center, the place for fun-lovers who work hard and play hard too. Deeply connected and collaborative, the people are the differentiator at Bain. That camaraderie doesn’t just end in the home office, according to one anonymous Vault survey-taker.
“Clients always say to us ‘having Bain here is like you are part of the team.’ ‘I can’t tell where your work ends and my team’s begins.’”
“A VIRTUOUS CYCLE”
Not surprisingly, Firm Culture is consistently a Bain strength in the Vault Consulting 50 survey. The firm’s 9.781 average score (on a 10-point scale) ranks 2nd among all consulting firms, besting McKinsey and BCG in the process. Keith Bevans, a Bain partner and global head of consultant recruiting, prefers to use “supportive culture” to describe the Bain difference. For Bevans, the culture starts with people who are carefully selected for their passion and potential to make a huge impact with clients.
“We support everyone we hire to be the best versions of themselves as both a person and a professional,” Bevans told P&Q on February 16th. “You can hire people who are already stars, but not every team of stars works well together. We hire people who have tremendous potential and build them as a team…that’s the secret sauce. We’re not competing with each other but we’re supporting each other and that’s a part of our culture. That’s when great things happen for our clients.”
Indeed, Bain acts as a true partner to their clients, never content to just follow directions or refrain from asking the tough question. Instead, Bain views itself as a co-creator who is as accountable for results as their clients. This translates to a “Results not reports” mindset. Hence, you’ll find Bainies sticking around past the slide deck to ensure stakeholders know how to properly use the tools they create through implementation…and beyond. This approach — and the success stories it has produced —is one reason why Bevans is so bullish on Bain’s future.
“When I look at our client net promoter score, when I look at the advocacy that our clients have for Bain, that’s what gets me excited. Success feeds success. That’s our goal: to create success stories for our people and our clients. They self-perpetuate. Our clients do amazing things powered by Bain case teams and our people on those teams feel a tremendous amount of pride through the success that their clients have. And then they tell other clients and the clients bring us back for more and you start a real virtuous cycle. For me, that’s the story of Bain.”
BIG RISE IN PRESTIGE
Vault survey results tell an equally compelling story. Overall, Bain earned the highest survey marks for Relationships with Supervisors and Informal Training (and the 2-best average for Formal Training), a clear indicator of the firm’s feedback-focused culture.
“Bain offers the best training out of any consulting firm – bar none,” writes another Vault survey respondent. “The formal training is meticulously planned and has the perfect balance of content, knowledge/experience sharing, and teambuilding. I walk away from every training a better consultant. The on-the-job training is even better – Bain constantly puts you in situations that are outside of your comfort zone, but with the right support to ensure that you’re successful.”
By the same token, Bain & Company generated the 2nd-highest scores for Employee Satisfaction, Promotion Policies, and Health and Wellness, all while ranking 3rd among all firms in five employment factors: Benefits, Compensation, Firm Leadership, Internal Mobility, and Level of Challenge. In other words, Bain ranked among the elite in 55% of the measures. When it comes to Prestige, which makes up 30% of Vault’s weight, Bain finished 3rd to McKinsey and BCG. However, the firm’s 8.755 score here is actually a .125 of a point uptick over the previous year (and better than the .118 and .60 of a point improvements posted by McKinsey and BCG in Prestige this year).
IN A HIRING MODE
Still, there are clouds on the horizon for Bain. For one, the firm lost ground in 12 of 20 Employment Factors, notably Compensation (-.284), Benefits (-.176), and Selectivity (-.151). Not surprisingly, the overall gap between Bain and McKinsey narrowed from .116 to .001. Still, Bain’s ongoing efforts in DEI have been producing results, as the firm’s average rose by .337 of a point — moving Bain up to 4th out of 130 firms in this area.
How is Bain expecting to stay ahead of peer firms? Bevans hails the firm’s recent acquisitions, including Optics Engine and Spike as a way to build the firm’s world-class expertise and provide consultants with the tools to do great things.
“That’s real exciting because we hire people who are super passionate about having a huge impact with their clients and understand that they want to go someplace where they’re going to learn how to be best in class and learn from world class experts,” he adds. “We’re bringing that expertise in house [and] we’re building the team. Bain & Company had a record growth year last year. We’re actively hiring right now because when you hire super passionate, talented, and driven individuals. When you’re as busy as we are, the risk over the long-term is high. So we’re making sure we add to the team so we have the capacity to do things in a sustainable way. That’s a huge priority for the firm now.”
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