At London Business School, MBAs gain a global education, access to prized internships, and are eagerly recruited by elite consulting firms like BCG. In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, Pamela Flores Monico describes how LBS prepared her to join BCG and launch a career in consulting.
Pamela Flores Monico, London Business School MBA ’22, Consultant at Boston Consulting Group
Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina (born in El Salvador)
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Universidad Catolica Argentina, Business Administration major
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): London Business School, MBA 2022
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Pharmaceuticals, almost 6 years
Post-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): Consulting, 6 months
Why did you choose to attend business school?
I had always wanted to study for an MBA to advance my career, it was just a matter of when. I thought an MBA would allow me to further develop my skills to move to a more strategic role. And would potentially allow me to try many new roles. I had always had a passion for social impact, and I wanted to see which area in particular could be of most interest to me and where I could add more value (e.g. global health, development, impact measurement, access to food, poverty alleviation, etc.). I was also drawn to the idea that there would be skills/knowledge that I could I gain from my MBA and from working in Europe that I could I could bring back to share with my country or community.
Why LBS? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
It was predominantly two things: one was London – there’s a breadth and diversity to the people and the way they think and how connected London feels to the rest of the world; the second point was the people – every person I met throughout my application was lovely, and I could really feel an instant connection with them, not just because of the diversity of backgrounds but also because they were thinking of how they could make an impact in the world. And I knew those were the types of conversations I wanted to be having while at LBS. Also, and no less important, I just love the flexibility of this programme: you can complete the MBA within 15, 18, or 21 months, do an internship at any point in time and there are so many electives to choose from. I was eager to adapt the programme to the experience I wanted to have.
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
The formal learning was all a good grounding for coming into consulting. However, I believe that the most valuable learning for me was how to network. In the past, I was very afraid of networking, and thought of it in a very transactional way, which is why I didn’t like it. But during my MBA, I learned that it was so much more: it was about connecting with people and helping to bring others together. It’s now something I’ve been able to bring into consulting, whether I’m handling client relationships or working with internal stakeholders. And it’s something I can take with me throughout any aspect of my life.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I did several internships: I worked at a circular economy start-up, then at Gavi the Vaccine Alliance (this was such a highlight for me! Working with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout at the peak of the pandemic), later on at an impact measurement firm, followed by my consulting internship and finally at an organisation dedicated to poverty alleviation through rural entrepreneurship. All these experiences were very dear to me, working on such relevant projects that were truly having an impact in society. But I realized that what I had enjoyed the most was dealing with such diverse projects that required me to tap into different skills. So, I realized that a career in consulting would allow me to not only keep building my skillset, but also give me the possibility of working on many different and diverse projects, all while looking to focus in different areas of social impact.
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I think there were 3 major elements I was looking for: accelerated growth, diversity (both in terms of projects and people), and impact. And BCG just checked out all those boxes: it has allowed me to experience a very steep learning curve, tapping into industries, sectors and projects that I have no past experience of, while working with people from all around the world and feeling like the work we do has an actual impact (BCG has put a lot of focus on becoming a leader in sustainability and social impact, and this is something that I really value!)
How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans?
COVID mostly changed the way I thought I was going to do things: I thought it would be doing an in-person MBA with lots of travels, but it was actually hybrid and with less travel (for obvious reasons). Most of my friends I got to know later because of the virtual nature of the MBA during COVID, so it was harder to build the support system initially. Also, I believe recruiting was tougher during those times since so many organizations were cutting costs due to the pandemic, so it was tough to go through the recruitment process at the time. Furthermore, I thought I would be working in person with so many different colleagues at different organizations, but most of the jobs I had were virtual. On the other hand, since I was mostly targeting global health at the time, it also enabled me to work on the “front lines” of the pandemic with Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which is not something I could have imagined before. And specifically, this experience helped me realize that I would like to keep working on pandemic preparedness and access to healthcare.
Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Create my “values plan:” a friend introduced me to this. I was so overwhelmed initially by how tough it could be to find a job in London, and was starting to send my CV to whichever organisation that I could find. But my friend helped me create a plan based on which values are truly dear and non-negotiable to me, that had to be present in my job, vs which ones were nice to have or even not important to me. And this was ground-breaking to me: it really eased my job hunt, enabling me to prioritize and make it a bit less overwhelming.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
I would trust the process more. Like I said, I was so overwhelmed and anxious initially, that I was starting to have negative thoughts such as “I will never find a job,” “maybe my accent is too thick,” and so many other things that make you have self-doubt. And it becomes even worse when you start seeing many of your friends finding jobs (but it’s usually just related to the different timelines that the companies have!). But the moment I started letting go and trusting myself and the process a bit more, it felt like opportunities started opening.
–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
Yes, they were super flexible throughout the whole process! I though that consulting was way more structured, but, honestly, they were really accommodating. For example, I couldn’t do the internship in Europe in the summertime, so they allowed me to do it in LATAM summertime (since my internship was in Chile office). I think it was the first time it had happened, but this was not only possible because of how supportive they were, but also because LBS makes it easy to be flexible as well. I have plenty more examples of this type of flexibility.
What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
To remember that the people you will meet in the MBA will be what makes your experience so enjoyable and impactful. Initially, I was very obsessed with finding a job, so I would put most of my energy into this. And during this time, I did meet lovely people, but it wasn’t until the second year of my MBA that I decided to reprioritize and put the focus on getting to know more of my peers rather than solely focusing on getting a job. I guess it’s a matter of prioritization since there isn’t time for everything. But it would have been nice to balance it better early on (in my defence, COVID was at its peak during my first year of MBA, so it was also harder to meet people during that time).