Why Bain? 8 reasons to work for Bain & Company

People interested in management consulting have become all too familiar with the names: McKinsey, Bain, and BCG. These three firms are the apex of the management consulting world, with prestige and legacy far beyond the rest. For those looking to ascend to the top, the most common questions are ‘Which MBB firm is the best?’ and, subsequently, ‘Who should I work for?’.

Founded in 1973, Bain & Company is the youngest and smallest consulting firm in the MBB. Still, Bain’s hiring can compete with the other two thanks to its strong emphasis on work culture and career growth. 

Yet, there’s no easy way to point out which MBB firm is the best to work for. McKinsey, Bain, and BCG each have their unique selling points, and the best choice will depend on the applicant’s target industry, future career goals, and preference for work-life balance.

In the following article, we will discuss eight distinctive points that set working for Bain apart from McKinsey and BCG.

Strong emphasis on teamwork, building networks, and relationships

The motto “A Bainie never lets another Bainie fail” is widely propagated at Bain. The company has cultivated a frat-like mentality among all its employees - people will roll up their sleeves to help struggling colleagues, even if they are not on the same team. 

Bain’s feedback structure also allows for 360-degree feedback. A consultant is evaluated by everyone around them: superiors, subordinates, clients, colleagues, and even self-feedback. Consultants will see what they are bringing to the team and how to align themselves better to achieve the final goal.

On the flip side, these factors mean Bain emphasizes culture fit more than the other MBB firms. Working in a fraternity (as many Bain consultants called it) requires you to have the same mindset as others. You cannot expect your colleagues to help you and then turn a blind eye when they need your help.

That being said, you can use this to cultivate favors and build your network. Many Bain employees are willing to spend time outside of work to bond. Major company events like the Bain World Cup - an annual football, rugby, and volleyball competition among each of Bain's global offices - can be a solid foundation for professional and personal relationships.


Flexible career tracks and more mentorship opportunities

Bain’s corporate structure is considered the most employee-centric out of the three MBB firms

Career tracks at Bain focus a lot on personalization for each consultant. You start out as a general management consultant (similar to both McKinsey and BCG) then progress into more specialist roles relating to your preferred industry. Along the way, Bain allows you to choose your own adventure, to build a specific path for yourself, which can be:

  • Geographic transfer to another domestic or international office or transfer to Bain Capability Network (which works with all international offices)

  • Externships to work with the World Economic Forum on industry-specific projects

  • MBA sponsorships for associate consultants

  • Volunteering for social impact projects across the globe

Starting as an associate consultant at Bain, you can choose your mentor to guide you at the firm. These mentors help you map out your career path and integrate into the culture from the beginning. This means a junior at Bain can work directly with clients while still being mentored and guided, making it easier and faster to climb the corporate ladder. 

That being said, the up-or-out mentality is very much present at Bain (as with all top consulting firms). This makes it particularly high-risk, high-reward and requires you to produce real results.

Read more: Up-or-Out in consulting


Local staffing model

Unlike BCG or McKinsey, Bain uses a local staffing model for all its offices. An office will mostly handle cases in its geographical region and build up a core portfolio of clients on a local/regional basis. There are some national/international clients at each office, but the ratio is much less than at the other top firms, lessening the load of long-distance cases. 

Hence, traveling is much less frequent at Bain, and you will have more chances to work in the city you live in. There’s still some long-distance travels, but they're mostly regional. 

Furthermore, this home office model is great for those who want to specialize in a specific industry. Each local area tends to focus on a few key industries, giving consultants more exposure to cases in specific fields.

For those wanting to experience different fields, finding good case diversity is difficult (that’s not to say there won’t be any). For those with a target industry, you must research carefully before picking an office to guarantee that you will work in an office that focuses on your industry.

Another benefit of the local office model is building relationships with your team. Instead of jumping office-by-office for each case, the coworkers at the same office will be by your side most of the time. You will actually collaborate long-term and forge a deeper bond with them.


Results, not reports

Bain consulting work is based on the principle that clients should get results - not just reports - from their consultants. To do this, Bain consultants must develop customized strategies that help clients beat their competition. 

This creates a high-responsibility environment that pushes everyone to bring their A-game to the table. Consultants will work closely with clients, developing a strong network and relationship between the client firm and the office.

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High income, compensation, and good benefits

Being among the top 3 largest consulting firms, salaries for consultants at Bain is of course at the top levels of the industry. A senior-level Bain consultant earns $142,000 - $240,000 each year.





















Table: Senior consultant salary at MBB, June 2023. Source: Glassdoor.com

And as a client facing role, whenever you have a business trips, all expenses will be covered to let you focus on the case. This includes (but not limited to):

  • Flexible Spending Account programs to conveniently pay for incurred day-to-day fees like parking, taxi, commuting, etc., using pre-tax dollars.

  • Flights and accommodation: Depending on your office’s policy, you can mostly enjoy business class seats and the best quality rooms in the area.

  • Daily stipend: Each region will have a different maximum cap, but it’ll always be enough to cover food and dining costs when you are away.

This sounds like a glamorous lifestyle, and it’s true when you work for clients in big cities. However, many consultants assigned to cases in remote areas will say that money cannot always guarantee good conditions. After all, you cannot get a Michelin-starred meal in the middle of nowhere.

There are also many additional benefits and policies that can help consultants strike a better work-life balance:

  • Generous maternity and paternity leave with 21 paid weeks for both parents

  • Extensive medical and health insurance (dental, accidental death, etc.)

  • Good saving and retirement plan

The firm also implemented the Bain Flex program, allowing all employees to convert to part-time work at their request to fit their schedule. They also applied the hybrid working model to all offices to allow flexible working for consultants who travel a lot.


Great experience in private equity

The most well-known line of work at Bain is private equity. This is also what clearly differentiates Bain from the two other MBB firms.

Consultants can rotate in and out of the PE consulting division at Bain to gain experience in this field. If it is your target industry, then Bain will be a great springboard for a future career in private equity. Be warned that this division's case load and work pace will be higher than in other fields, and you will have to make great efforts to keep up with everyone else.

Great alumni support

Bain culture cultivates a robust and active alumni network. Bain knows that the best offering it has is its people, and a great alumni network can support its staff and draw in more new hires. That’s why Bain invests heavily in supporting and promoting its alumni network.

They offer an alumni career center that connects exiting consultants with companies looking to hire Bain consultants. These are exclusive hiring news from global organizations that are specifically looking for ex-Bainie to join their ranks.

And like the other major consulting firms, Bain organizes lots of annual alumni events, with diverse themes and locations. There’s also plenty of research and resources that you can access even after leaving Bain.

Good career exit 

Ex-Bainies’ exit options include corporate management, banking and finance, public-sector work, NGOs, start-ups, and independent consulting. 

The prestige and network consultants gained at Bain opened many doors at the most prestigious organizations in the world, especially in the glamorous private equity field. If an ex-Bainie wishes to pursue more independent roles at NGOs, start-ups, or independent consulting, the knowledge and prestige earned at Bain can greatly help them in their new career. 

Even while working at Bain, the company has encouraged its consultants to pursue their areas of interest outside of Bain. Besides the freedom to develop in a chosen industry, you can also choose to work in a volunteer non-profit 10% project. Those are professional consulting projects outside your official work, and you can choose which one to participate in.

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