Got into Bain as a lateral hire. How should I prepare?

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Anonymous A asked on Apr 13, 2021

Hi,

I will be joining Bain as a senior associate consultant in a month. My previous experience (post MBA) is with a boutique consulting firm focused on implementation of operations improvement based on theory of constraints. I worked for almost 3 years with this firm.

As a result, although I have significant experience of inteacting with client on a day-to-day basis; my skills of making models and creating PPTs have not yet been sharpened.

Can someone guide me as to how I should prepare for this transition.

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on Apr 14, 2021
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Hi there,

Congratulations and well done!

First: Read the 25 tips in my consulting handbook here: https://www.spencertom.com/2018/01/14/consulting-survival-guide/

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Second: In terms of things you can learn/do to prepare beforehand:

1) Daily Reading

  • The Economist, The Financial Times, BCG/Mskinsey Insights

2) Industry deep-dives

  • Learn, in-depth, how the industries/companies your office advises, work. (PM me for an industry overview template)

3) Analytics tools

  • Alteryx, Tableau, etc.

4) Excel

  • Pivottables
  • Working with data
  • Key fuctions (vlookup, Index match, count and sum if/ifs, sumproduct, concat, etc.)
  • Hotkeys (i.e. use keyboard more than your mouse)
  • Financial modeling

5) Powerpoint

  • Wireframing
  • Lead-in titles
  • Best practices/standards
  • Different layouts
  • Quickly editing/updating slides
  • Thinking in PowerPoint

6) Presentation skills / sharp communication

  • There are some online/virtual classes for this

​----------------------------------------------------------

Third: In terms of doing well in your role when you're there:

1) Understand the context/prompt (what role are you in, what company, who's watching, etc.)

2) Understand the objective (what, specifically, is expected from you...both day to day, and in your overall career progression)

3) Quickly process information, and focus on what's important - Take a lot of information and the unknown, find the most logical path, and focus on that.

4) Be comfortable with the unknown, and learn to brainstorm - think/speak like an expert without being one

In summary, there will always be a flood of information, expectations, competition etc. and not enough time. Find out which ones matter when. (i.e. be visibile and focus efforts on the things that people care about)

Some Excellent Q&As

What to expect in the first 90 days (and how to thrive) - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/first-90-days-as-associate-business-analyst-consultant-7185

What to prepare/learn beforehand - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-best-preppare-for-a-consulting-position-if-you-have-a-couple-of-months-of-free-time-7164

How to improve your ability to remember details - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-improve-ability-to-remember-details-is-it-important-in-consulting-6998

How to be confident - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-build-up-confidence-and-look-smart-and-sharp-in-a-consultant-role-6955

Notetaking effectively - https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/note-taking-7215

Was this answer helpful? 20

Hi there,

Congratulations on your offer!

If your only improvement areas are PowerPoint and Excel, you may simply take an online course to get accustomed to them. At MBB they normally provide some training when you join, but being proactive on that can help to save time in your initial weeks.

Also, these are the tips I usually recommend for MBB prep:

  • On the technical side, Excel will be the most important technical thing to master at the beginning, in particular for VLOOKUPs and Pivot tables; you could also review PowerPoint if needed. You will likely receive training on this once you start anyway.
    • Tip for Excel: learn how to use the keyword as much as possible and relegate the touchpad to the minimum – this will skyrocket your productivity in the long term. Some computer programs such as KeyRocket provide tips to improve on this.
  • For better communication, two great books are:
    • How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie (classical on how to manage relationships)
    • Never Split The Difference - Chris Voss (great negotiation book)
  • For mindset, some great books are:
    • The Compound Effect - Darren Hardy (great book on long-term planning)
    • Tiny Habits – BJ Fogg (excellent, science-based book on habits formation)
    • The Mediations – Marcus Aurelius (written ~ 2000 years ago but incredibly actual – the personal diary of the most powerful man in the world at the time)
    • The 80–20 Principle - Richard Koch (very smart life tips from one of the founders of LEK)
    • Peaks and Valleys – Spencer Johnson (crisis management tale – from the same author of the famous “Who moved my Cheese”, I personally found this book a lot more interesting and applicable)

Below you can also find a list of things that could be useful to practice during your first weeks:

  1. Take notes when your manager tells you something – this will help you to remember details and will show you care about them to the team.
  2. Always double-check. The first impression is very important in consulting (and in any industry in general): if you show you are reliable from the beginning, you create a reputation of a reliable person. Double checks should be done on expectations for your job, your Excel analysis, your slides – basically everything.
  3. Define priorities before starting any set of tasks. The majority of the results usually come from a subset of activities – this is true also for your tasks in consulting. You have to identify which they are and prioritize them – the application of the so-called 80-20 rule or Pareto Principle. Alignment on priorities and expectations is particularly important with your manager at the beginning of the project.
  4. Socialize with your colleagues and start to build a network. Consulting (most likely also your new industry) is a people business and you should build a good network both within and outside the company. A good start is key to develop good relationships long-term
  5. Organize your private life activities. You want to organize your calendar to leave some space for personal activities (sport/ friends/ family). This is not easy but can be managed if you organize well, and long-term will be critical to keep a balance between work and private life. Also, it is better to align with your manager/teammates from the beginning on your core needs, so that there are no surprises later­ on.
  6. Ask for feedback every two-three weeks – this will show you are proactive and willing to learn.
  7. Ask for help when you don't know what to do – better to let know you are in trouble with meeting a deadline than missing the deadline.
  8. Be social and respectful with the support staff – these people are great and influential as well in the company.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Was this answer helpful? 16

Hi, congrats on the offer! I recommend not struggling with the preparation but enjoying this month. Only a quick refresh on excel and ppt will be useful

Best,
Antonello

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Very interesting!

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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