The MBA from the eyes of a hiring manager at Bain & Company

By Jenn Bridge

Lyndsey Simons (Wilson), MBA 18, wears a lot of hats in Bain & Company’s San Francisco office, where she started as a summer associate and is now a senior manager in the financial investor practice working with both private equity clients and growth equity investors. Her projects are varied, but her work with one large growth-equity investor serves as an example. “This investor is focused on infusing capital into fast-growing global markets. As part of our work, I led a team assessing fintech players that provide underbanked customers with access to capital and evaluated a B2B platform that enables small businesses to expand their customer reach and grow their revenue,” Lyndsey explained.

Noting that she is “energized and passionate about being a thought partner with our clients and a decision-maker here at Bain,” Lyndsey added that the firm aligns with her commitment to social impact in a broad context. That includes her “tremendous respect for Bain’s longstanding and strategic focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and environmental, social, and governance (ESG), both in our work with clients and within our four walls.”

We talked with Lyndsey about one of the other hats she wears as a member of Bain’s recruiting team at Berkeley Haas. “We are looking to recruit the best talent, and I love meeting candidates who could become part of our Go Bears cohort at Bain. There’s a natural cultural fit. Both the Haas and Bain cultures value intellectual curiosity, humility, and a learning mindset.”

Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.

What does Bain look for in MBA recruitment candidates in terms of experience?

Candidates often start out by saying they have a “non-traditional” background for consulting. I ask them what they think “traditional” is! We intentionally hire MBAs with diverse experiences who complement and strengthen the experience within our consultant ranks.

We are eager to meet candidates with a passion for driving results. We want to learn about the positive business outcomes they have driven in past jobs and internships. This is the case regardless of what industry they worked in before starting their MBA.

We look for teammates that bring fresh perspectives to the table — who aren’t afraid to ask questions, who are open to changing course when they see new data. We value humility and a drive to consider other points of view.

Lastly, we want to understand how Bain fits into their story. How does joining Bain fit into their hoped-for career path? We know not every MBA comes to Bain intending to make partner. What do they hope to get out of their experience here?

I enjoy meeting candidates who let me hear how they are thinking."

What specific skills does Bain look for in MBA candidates?

A quick list would include problem solving, leadership, effective teamwork, and using data to drive results.

People often assume quant skills are paramount—and while they are—what we’re really curious to know is how you have used data to drive decisions in your previous roles.

We also want to see MBAs who have led change management efforts and who are comfortable leading a team and collaborating with clients to achieve extraordinary results.

Haas is great training ground for those skills. I and my classmates all came to Haas with strengths and gaps in our knowledge and previous experience. In my pre-MBA role at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, I was in the world of impact investing. I had experience in some stages of investing, but not the full spectrum of investing and value creation. Classes like New Venture Finance and International Business Development expanded my understanding and skillset. I continue to build on that in my work at Bain.

What kind of support does Bain provide new hires and staff?

We believe strongly in hiring, developing, and retaining the best talent, and as a member of our training team in the San Francisco office, I am particularly committed to making sure that happens.

In terms of structured support, everyone goes through a week of hands-on training of what Bain best practices for Excel modeling and client presentations look like. Our leadership team leads mock cases to share our approach to problem-solving and results delivery. Periodic training in your first few years advances your skills and understanding in those capabilities. As you reach more senior positions, training shifts to strengthening your ability to coach teams or present to executive clients, for example.

For me, a highlight has been an annual global training where you meet Bainies from other offices. It is so compelling to meet people at your level and who are in the same role. You learn from each other and deepen relationships.

But really, unstructured training happens every day, in what I would call “side-by-side apprenticeship” among peers and colleagues. Bain is an awesome place to learn. Everyone in the room is looking for ways to arrive at the best outcome and really cares about investing in their community.

What tips do you have for candidates applying for roles at Bain?

Three things come to mind:

  1. It is important to nail the case questions. But getting the right answer isn’t the ticket to a job offer. I enjoy meeting candidates who let me hear how they are thinking about the math, how they are brainstorming, what they are factoring in. If you make a mistake in the math, it’s OK, as long as you can show us how you got back into the problem. This helps me see what you will be like as a teammate. We want to see your energy and your passion for getting to a strong data-driven recommendation.
  1. Take time to reflect and share your unique experiences and backgrounds. What do you bring to this role? Who are you?
  1. Be clear about where Bain fits into your story. What about Bain compels you? What will Bain help you achieve in the long run?

We want to attract the best talent to join us here, to help us form the best possible teams to meet our clients' needs.

Read more about the Berkeley Haas career advantage

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Posted on January 6, 2022
Themes: Consulting
Jenn Bridge
Jenn Bridge is Senior Director External Engagement. She oversees the employer relations, industry readiness, and business development teams including the marketing and communications strategies for the MBA Career Management group. She has corporate experience in consulting and retail (Gap Inc. and Strategy&) prior to Haas. She's a passionate leader who is thinking about the student experience all the time.