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Real Humans of Bain & Co.: Matthew Michaelides, INSEAD MBA ‘J21, Consultant

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Join Matthew Michaeledes on his path to becoming a consultant at Bain & Co., as he shares his journey to and through the dynamic MBA program at INSEAD. Matthew also offers insights into how business school prepared him for his career, and what made his MBA experience so special in this Real Humans: Alumni feature.

Matthew Michaelides, INSEAD MBA ‘J21, Consultant at Bain & Company

Age: 29
Hometown: Houston, TX
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Columbia University, Political Science
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): INSEAD, July 2021
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5 years in corporate intelligence and investigations
Post-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): ~6 months as Consultant at Bain and Company

Why did you choose to attend business school?
I went to INSEAD knowing I wanted to move into management consulting. I’d spent my career up until that point building my craft in investigative work and analyzing political and corruption risks in emerging markets, but I’d begun to grow fascinated by the core strategic reasons for the deals I was working on and wanted to move my career in that direction. For me, business school was the critical first step in making this pivot.

Why INSEAD? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
There were a series of strategic and tactical reasons why INSEAD was my top choice from the outset: the top-notch preparation for consulting, the fact that I could do it in a single year, the global focus (which I see as particularly additive to the value prop for an American), etc. But ultimately the natural connection I felt with my INSEAD alumni friends/mentors and the school’s vision was probably the biggest pull of all. Coming from a non-business background, the way INSEAD stands for a more humble, global, and socially minded approach to business was extremely compelling.

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career as a consultant at Bain?
For me, the MBA was a careful balance between directly preparing for consulting recruitment and widening my perspective across cultural and functional boundaries. All the hours put into networking, resume/CV drops, and case interview prep are predominantly what got me the job, but I think the broadening of my perspective on what constitutes ‘good’ when, how to get there, and why it’s worth caring are my most treasured learnings from the MBA and inform every single day at Bain.

What was your internship during business school?  How did that inform your post-MBA career choice to become a consultant at Bain?
The J cohort at INSEAD doesn’t do an internship during the MBA program, but I did do a pre-MBA internship at CPP Investments, a large Canadian pension fund, working with their direct private equity, value creation, and VC teams in San Francisco. Working closely with several whip-smart and highly structured thinkers who had worked at Bain and other top consulting firms confirmed for me that consulting was the right next step for me.

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
Bain stood out throughout the recruitment process for its growth-focused and collaborative culture, the caliber of its people and their impact for clients, and as somewhere where I could get a great balance between commercial due diligence and more traditional management consulting. I haven’t been disappointed.

How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans?
I took a leap of faith by not adjusting my MBA / consulting plans when COVID hit and luckily, through no particularly excellent planning of my own, it worked out. The MBA experience itself was somewhat unusual compared to pre-COVID times, but I think overall INSEAD did a nice job of giving students flexibility and balancing vital public health considerations with giving us the experiences we needed to thrive during the program.

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Decide what you want and go for it. It pays to sit down and really think hard about what you want in a job and then look for that job, rather than waiting and seeing which way the wind blows. Even if you don’t get exactly what you were looking for initially, you’ll learn something and emerge stronger for it.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
There are aspects of a pre-COVID MBA experience that would have been fun and exciting, but I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. I’m thankful for the friendships and learnings.

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
No, it was very straightforward. INSEAD has great support for consulting recruitment.

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Some of the best advice I got before the MBA was to prioritize, because you can’t do everything. But, I actually think that’s only half of the challenge. Not only do you have to pick what really matters – you also have to leave some of your experience to chance and enjoy the unexpected joys and learnings that come with them. For me, prioritizing meant getting a job in consulting, building friendships, and getting broad exposure across areas of potential future career interest like VC, social enterprise, and organizational behavior – but the random, seemingly insignificant decisions to make Thanksgiving dinner for my non-American housemates and go hiking in the wetlands in Singapore are what really made the MBA a special time.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.