Real Humans of BCG: Brierley Penn, LBS ’19, Consultant
In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, we jump back into the consulting sector to leading consulting firm, Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Our featured alumna, Brierley Penn, graduated from London Business School in 2019 and rejoined BCG after graduation. While many applicants may expect to commit two full years to a program, LBS offers their full-time MBA program in three lengths: 15, 18 and 21 months. The 15-month option still allows time for an internship and exploration, as shown by Penn in her experience below. The LBS MBA also prepared her to engage with and lead colleague and client teams at the leading consulting firm. Read on for her story.
Brierley Penn, London Business School MBA ’19, Consultant at BCG
Hometown: Grew up in Wanganui, New Zealand, but currently live in Sydney, Australia
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Law and Finance at the University of Auckland
Pre-MBA Work Experience: 2.5 years, management consulting
Post-MBA Work Experience: 1 year, management consulting
Why did you choose to attend business school?
I was looking for an experience that would help me mature as a team member and leader – to experiment with different leadership styles in a safe environment and to gain exposure to diverse teams and working styles. I also wanted to spend some time living in a different country and to extend my network globally.
Why London Business School? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
The flexibility of LBS’s program was the first key drawcard for me; I ended up doing the 15-month MBA and fitting in a 3-month exchange at Kellogg, which enabled me to get the most out of the experience, whilst also ensuring that the program worked around my and my partner’s personal lives.
Secondly, I have always loved London, and wanted to do my MBA somewhere that I would also feel connected to a city and the local business community (the European travel is also a great perk!). Finally, I found that I connected well with all of the alumni and current students that I met – the down to earth, collaborative and curious culture of LBS students really resonated with me.
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
The combination of organizational behavior classes and opportunities to put these lessons into place outside the classroom (e.g. in study groups, clubs, elective activities) helped me to learn more about myself and my leadership style, and how I can best leverage that to work with teams in my current role. I have found these ‘soft skill’ learnings hugely valuable since returning to work.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned for Hotels.com (Expedia), in the Pricing Strategy team. It was an awesome opportunity to work in a tech-focused organization and push myself outside of my comfort zone in a new industry and function.
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I was sponsored by BCG to attend business school and decided to return after completing my MBA. I love the constant challenge and learning opportunities that consulting provides: working with different people on unique and complex problems, and across different industries.
Advice to current MBA students:
- One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Have the confidence to experiment in a new industry, and interview at a number of firms to get a clear understanding of what different companies offer and where my best fit is.
- One thing you would change or do differently?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help (from other students, LBS alumni at the firm) and don’t get caught up in the stress around internships too early. Many of the most interesting opportunities weren’t advertised until shortly before the summer break, but it’s easy to feel as though you should be locking something in at the first opportunity.
- What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Don’t overcommit to activities and clubs – give yourself the time and space to experiment and enjoy the journey! Advice I was given, but probably didn’t listen to enough.
What’s the best thing about working for your current employer?
Working for a company that cares about me and my growth. I feel empowered by the people I work with to be myself, to work on projects that I am most interested in and to constantly learn and develop – this continues to motivate and excite me.