Real Humans of BCG: Steve Neumann, Georgetown McDonough MBA’ 2019, Project Leader
Boston Consulting Group (BCG)—one of the Big Three of the top consulting firms known as MBB—has offices in 50 countries, and therefore no shortage of opportunities to pursue a diverse and lively profession. In this Real Humans – Alumni, we meet Steve Neumann, Georgetown McDonough MBA ’19, who talks about setting his sights on joining BCG and how McDonough empowered him to do so.
Steve Neumann, Georgetown McDonough MBA ’19, Project Leader at BCG
Hometown: Newtown, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Georgetown University — Marketing major
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration: Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, MBA ’19
Pre-MBA Work Experience: Professional soccer player in Major League Soccer (MLS) for 3 years (2014–2017)
Post-MBA Work Experience: Consultant (2019–2021); Project Leader (2021–current) at BCG
Why did you choose to attend business school?
After my professional soccer career in the MLS, I wanted to pursue a career in business, but I wasn’t sure which specialty I wanted to focus on just yet. The brother of one of my former teammates worked at BCG at the time, and he described his experience at BCG where he learned about many facets of business across industries and companies. After that conversation, I set my goal of landing a position at one of the top strategy consulting companies. Then, I worked backward from that goal.
Why Georgetown McDonough? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
There were many factors that went into the decision, but I’ll highlight two critical ones for me.
Peer mentoring and collaboration — Because I had attended Georgetown’s undergrad program, I knew Hilltop was a special place where collaboration was a critical element to the learning experience. This was certainly true in the MBA program as well. I was extremely grateful for the guidance and mentorship that second-year MBA students provided at Georgetown. I truly don’t think I’d be where I am today without the time and effort that my peers dedicated to helping me prepare for interviews.
Diverse student body and international curriculum — My classmates at Georgetown were from a diverse set of professional, social, and ethnic backgrounds. I learned so much from hearing about their experiences. For example, one of my classmates described a hyper-inflationary period in his country growing up and it really brought to life economic concepts that we were learning in class that day.
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
Global Business experience — The marquee program that students take part in during their MBA at Georgetown is the Global Business Experience. Students work in small teams over the course of several months and partner with executives from multinational companies around the world to solve challenging business problems. Not only did this open my eyes to business practices around the world, but it was also great preparation for my eventual post-MBA role in consulting. I learned critical skills in structuring business problems, working in teams, and client management.
Academic rigor — Georgetown’s MBA program is the perfect ecosystem to get out of your comfort zone and learn new concepts. I challenged myself by taking elective courses in unfamiliar topic areas and became a much more well-rounded professional.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I did my summer internship at BCG in the Washington, D.C. office. During my internship, I gained valuable experience that covered the full consulting toolkit: rigorous quantitative analysis, translating insights into clear outputs that resonated with key stakeholders and partnering with senior-level clients. Looking back, I developed immensely in those 10-weeks, and it further emboldened my desire to return to BCG full-time after my MBA.
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
For me, it all comes down to learning and development and the people.
Learning and development — It’s the perfect place to start a career and rapidly develop. The work is so varied that you truly learn something new every day. The intellectual challenge on a day-to-day basis is very appealing for people early in their careers. I’ve been exposed to some of the most challenging business problems of the largest companies in the world and worked closely with top senior executives. I’ve been able to develop a strong base of technical skills (e.g., analytics) and qualitative skills (e.g., communication). At my current level of Project Leader, I’ve learned a whole new suite of skills including managing and mentoring a team.
People — I’ve had the good fortune of working with extremely intelligent people at BCG that have a very diverse set of professional backgrounds. I’ve learned so much from them and tried to emulate each of their strengths. To illustrate this point, I was part of a team that had the following pre-BCG backgrounds: Pilot, school teacher, professional athlete, submarine officer. How cool is that?
Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
For anyone targeting the top strategy consulting companies, it is paramount to perform well on the case interview. The biggest piece of advice I can give is to get out of your comfort zone and replicate the actual interview as often as possible when you are practicing. One of my favorite quotes that relates to this concept is “every battle is won before it is fought.” Admittedly, a case interview is far less intense than a battle … but hopefully you get the point!
–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
I was pleasantly surprised by the personalization of the BCG recruiting process. One great example was at the end of a Welcome Weekend event for all the summer interns, they gave us each a book that related to a personal interest. I’m a huge Philadelphia Eagles fan, and they had just won their first Super Bowl. So naturally, the book I received related to the history of the Philadelphia Eagles organization and its players. It was a small, but meaningful, gesture and showed BCG really cared about its people.
–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
The job search period in an MBA program is an intense and stressful time. There is a significant upside in your career to landing your dream post-MBA job, but there’s also an element of opportunity cost of being in business school for two years. This can heighten the pressure to land your ideal job. If I had to do it again, I’d remind myself that a career is a marathon and not a sprint. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. One example of how this can happen is in the networking side of the job search. Always remind yourself that the person on the other side of the table or phone was in your position once. Treat them kindly, ask good questions, be curious and try not to make anything too transactional.