The MBA is a reliable vehicle for career switchers and, as seen in this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, it can also enhance one’s current career path. Rachel Neiger, London Business School MBA ’17 and case team leader at Bain & Co., already knew she would be returning to the leading consulting firm when she started her business school search. The culture of Bain is seen as supportive, investing in employees’ development and consistently ranking as a “Best Place to Work” by the likes of Fortune and Glassdoor, among others. Read on to learn about the dynamic lifestyle that comes with working at Bain, and how an MBA fits into the picture when you already have a job lined up post-MBA.
Rachel Neiger, LBS ’17, Case Team Leader at Bain & Co.
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Harvard University, Economics
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): LBS MBA 2017, concentration in Strategy
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 3 years, consulting
Post-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 2.5 years, consulting
Why did you choose to attend business school?
I felt lucky to have found my job and company after university. Looking ahead to a longer-term future there, I thought there would be a lot of value in taking a few years out to deepen my academic understanding of business, learn from a diverse group of peers, and build long-term friendships and connections.
Why London Business School? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Given my motivation to attend business school, I prioritized school culture, location and reputation. After spending nearly a year working in Johannesburg and Lagos, my career (and personal life) had started to become more international and I was looking for an experience to reflect and build on that. Like London itself, LBS attracts truly global students with a unique desire to learn from new perspectives and experiences.
Beyond the ‘on paper’ attributes, once I started meeting current students and my future classmates, I loved that introductions and initial conversations weren’t about first finding what you had in common with someone – that culture of openness and curiosity both professionally and personally really appealed to me.
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
The effectiveness of a consulting project (clear actions that are implemented and make a real difference for a business) relies on soft skills – understanding the dynamics of an organisation and structuring messages in a way that secures buy-in and supports results delivery. The case studies, lessons, theories and practical discussions I had in numerous classes at LBS are all directly relevant for my work nearly every day.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned at Endeavor in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Endeavor is a non-profit that supports high-impact entrepreneurship e.g. providing resources and support necessary for entrepreneurs to scale businesses in a way that will make a true difference in local communities. Given I was returning to my previous job, my internship was more about pushing myself to apply the analytical toolkit and business judgement I had developed in a less comfortable environment (slightly more fluid and unstructured than I was accustomed to and Spanish-speaking!).
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I joined a management consulting firm after university and accepted an offer to return in exchange for business school sponsorship. My reasons for staying were the same as when I joined – I’m energized by the opportunity to address critical business questions with our clients and teams while constantly developing my own leadership skill set. Again, culture was another big factor for me. The people are incredibly smart and driven, but down to earth and the company prioritizes career flexibility and sustainability.
Advice to current MBA students:
- One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search? I’m glad that I took advantage of my summer internship as a low-risk opportunity to try something new – in my case a similar type of work, but in a very different environment.
- One thing you would change or do differently? As a sponsored student, I would have pushed myself even more to seek other internships and professional opportunities. Doing so would have given me a better sense of what’s out there and, more practically, some interviewing and networking experience. At the time I saw it as not entirely necessary, but that type of research and connections are about much more than the short-term job search.
- Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process? For those interested in getting in consulting, the path is pretty clear. People might be surprised that it’s only somewhat about being able to do a case interview really well. Like a business school application, getting through the recruiting process is more about being able to tell a clear story about your experiences and demonstrate a broader general manager skill set.
- What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Whether it’s deciding to apply for a club leadership position, take an elective, or go on a trip, make sure you’re clear on why you’re doing something and are making a conscious choice given other options. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the opportunities, just make sure to check in with yourself every once in awhile!
What’s the best thing about working for your current employer?
Besides the work itself, I think my current employer’s investment in employees’ personal and professional development isn’t something you’d find anywhere else. There’s so much support both for day-to-day life at the company and potential paths beyond consulting.