Careers at Bain & Company
Bain & Company’s mission is to help its clients create such high levels of economic value that together they set new standards of excellence in their respective industries.
Bill Bain (born William W. Bain) was an employee at his alma mater Vanderbilt University, charged with raising funds from alumni. In 1967, when the school began to consider starting a business program, Bill sought advice from alumnus Bruce Henderson, the head of Boston Consulting Group. Henderson was so impressed with the young man that he offered him a job, which Bill accepted.
Bill demonstrated a hard work ethic, and within two years rose to the position of Vice President, heading one of BCG’s four divisions. He was eager to succeed Henderson as President, and many employees felt the change as inevitable. However, Henderson was not ready to step down, which led to tension. Bill was also frustrated with the firm’s focus on reports rather than client results.
In 1973 he told Henderson that he and co-worker Patrick Graham were departing to start a software company. However, they were actually founding a competing consulting firm, and managed to steal seven of BCG’s employees and two of its top clients, Texas Instruments and Black & Decker. The new Bain & Company was launched out of Bill’s apartment with a single telephone line.
The firm utilized practices that were novel to the industry at the time. It took on only one customer per industry in order to gain deep experience, and worked directly with CEOs. It maintained a shroud of secrecy, with partners avoiding business cards and referring to clients by code names. It primarily obtained new business through referrals. Its behavior led to the nickname “the KGB of consulting.”
Bain’s prominence enabled it to attract customers, and its success allowed it to grow even further. It only recruited from top business schools, seeking candidates who were highly competitive; they became known as “Bainies”. In the late 1970s it began expanding internationally, opening a London office to service European clients. Bain went on to become a major player in the consulting sector.
Business model of Bain & Company
Bain has a mass market business model, with no significant differentiation between customer segments. The company targets organizations in all types of industries, including small startups, mid-size companies, large multinational corporations, nonprofits, governments, and private equity firms.
Bain offers three primary value propositions: innovation, performance, and brand/status.
The company has a long history of innovation. Its groundbreaking offerings include the following:
- Bain maintains “tied economics“ arrangements with its customers that enable it to better align its financial incentives with client results
- Bain pioneered strategic consulting for private equity firms, with solutions including hands-on performance improvement for portfolio companies and due diligence during acquisition
- Bain maintains The Bridgespan Group, described as the first company to provide high-level strategy consulting solutions for the non-profit industry
- Bain collaborated with Satmetrix and Fred Reichheld to develop Net Promoter Score (NPS), a metric that determines the likelihood of a firm’s customers recommending it to others
The company has demonstrated strong performance through concrete results. It claims that its public clients have historically outperformed the stock market 4 to 1. High-profile examples of specific positive customer outcomes include the following:
- A European telecommunications provider used Bain’s services to improve its Net Promoter Score by 50 points, enabling it to increase acquisiton and decrease churn
- A leading pharmaceutical laboratory used Bain’s services to improve its supply chain, resulting in a 43% reduction in lead time, a 50% decrease in variability, and a 95% drop in risk of back-order
- An entertainment company used Bain’s services to develop a test and learning tool that led to a 500% growth in sales in pilot markets
- A technology firm used Bain’s services to simplify organizational structures, resulting in a 33% increase in customer-facing selling time and cost savings of more than $25 million
- Two large healthcare firms used Bain’s services during their merger, which resulted in the realization of net synergies 1.6 times the initial target within the first year of the integration
The company has established a powerful brand as a result of its performance. It is one of the world’s leading management consulting firms, with 53 offices in 34 countries globally. It has more than 4,600 multinational corporation customers, including most of the Global 500 and private equity funds representing 75% of global equity capital. It has many notable former and current employees, including former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, and American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault. Lastly, it has won many honors, including recognition as one of the “Best Places to Work“ by Glassdoor (2016), one of the “Vault Consulting 50“ (2016), and the #1 “Best Firm to Work for“ by Consulting magazine for 11 years in a row.
Bain’s main channel for acquiring customers is via the long-lasting customer relationships of their partners. The company promotes its offering through its social media pages and attendance of conferences.
Bain’s customer relationship is primarily of a dedicated personal assistance nature. Customers receive face-to-face assistance from company employees. That said, there is a self-service component. The company’s website features an “Insights” section with a number of self-help resources, including books, infographics, newsletters, videos, and other multimedia.
Bain’s business model entails creating and developing problem-solving solutions for its customers.
Bain maintains partnerships and affiliations with various organizations with the goal of solving many problems that may impact its clients. Specific partners include the following:
World Economic Forum – Engages world leaders in order to develop industry and global agendas
Endeavor – Supports high-impact entrepreneurs in order to stimulate long-term economic growth
Acumen – Invests in companies and leaders in order to combat global poverty
2041 – Hosts the International Antarctica Expedition, which promotes sustainability
Business 20 (B20) – Works with G20 governments in order to create jobs and drive economic growth
G(irls)20 – Gathers delegates from G20 countries to design solutions for female empowerment
International Business Leaders Advisory Council (IBLAC) – Gathers CEOs and Chairmen from leading global corporations to offer advice on issues and opportunities for Shanghai’s economic development
Bain’s main resources are its consultants, many of whom have deep expertise in specific industries.
Bain has a value-driven structure, aiming to provide a premium proposition through significant personal service. Its biggest cost driver is likely cost of services, a variable expense. Other major drivers are in the areas of administration and customer support and operations.
Bain has one revenue stream, the fees charged to its clients for access to its services. These fees vary by individual project and type of client.
info: Orit earned a B.A. in Psychology from The Hebrew University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She previously worked as a professor at the Jerusalem Institute of Management in The Hebrew University, and served in the Israeli Army. She sits on several boards.
info: Bob earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He previously served as Founder, Vice President, and General Manager of AKR Robotics.
info: Bill earned a B.S. in Science and Engineering and a Master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He previously served as a captain in the United States Air Force.
info: Paul earned a degree in Economics from the University of Dublin, Trinity College. He previously served as the managing partner of Bain’s Australian business and its Tokyo office, as well as Asia-Pacific Regional Managing Director.
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