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Real Humans of BCG: Carmen Del Valle, Northwestern Kellogg MBA ’23, Management Consultant

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Carmen Del Valle was passionate about her work helping historically marginalized and underserved people find success. To enhance her decision-making and quantitative skills and broaden her perspective on problem-solving, she decided to pursue an MBA. In this Real Humans: Alumni, Del Valle tells us how Northwestern Kellogg met both her short-term goals of getting into consulting and her long-term goals of merging her professional and personal passions. Read on to learn how Kellogg’s leadership opportunities and entrepreneurship resources prepared her for success at Boston Consulting Group.

Carmen Del Valle, Northwestern Kellogg MBA ’23, Management Consultant at Boston Consulting Group

Age: 33
Hometown: South Jamaica, Queens, NY
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Columbia University, Chemistry
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): Kellogg School of Management, MBA Class of 2023
Pre-MBA Work Experience (title, company, years, industry): 3.5 years, Nonprofit Program Coordinator, 4 years, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Talent Strategist
Post-MBA Work Experience (title, company, years, industry): 7 months, Management Consultant at BCG

Why did you choose to attend business school?
I launched my career creating pathways of success for individuals who are systemically underserved and overlooked. I was passionate about my work and proud of the impact it had. I applied to business school because I wanted to enhance the skills I had developed with frameworks that would sharpen my decision-making, enhance my quantitative skills, and broaden my problem-solving point of view. I knew that business school would give me the opportunity to pivot careers and round out my professional toolkit.

Why Kellogg? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? 
I approached school selection with both short-term and long-term goals in mind. In the short-term, I knew I wanted to pivot to consulting. Kellogg is known for its excellence in consulting (e.g., 42% of my class went into consulting after graduation). Kellogg has robust formal support offered by the Career Management Center and Kellogg Consulting Club, as well as informal support offered by students and alumni. For example, non-professional clubs such as the Black Management Association and Women’s Business Association both offered mock interviews and coffee chats with second-years, exemplifying Kellogg’s student-led atmosphere and attitude of giving back.

In the long-term, I have a vision of my life where I can balance a rigorous career with my passion for creative pursuits. Early in my career, I traveled frequently and experienced the art and dance scenes in cities around the world. There were a few women I met along the way who successfully merged high-powered careers with personal passions (e.g., corporate banker and performance artist, brand manager and martial arts instructor, strategy and ops manager and fashion influencer). The common denominator was that they were all Kellogg alumnae. Choosing Kellogg was about strategically aligning my professional goals with a personal commitment to living a prosperous, integrated life. 

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career at Boston Consulting Group?
The coursework, student leadership opportunities, and entrepreneurship resources have directly prepared me for my current career. 

As a first-year, I applied to be part of the Deans Consulting Alliance, where a small group of students work directly with one of the deans to tackle leadership-identified issues. It was my first exposure to essential consulting skills including story lining, conducting insightful interviews, and crafting a strategic recommendation with a team. I also took advantage of Kellogg’s Data Analytics pathway and have applied concepts from my courses such as Critical Thinking in Digital and Social Media Marketing and Data Exploration directly to the problem-solving aspect of my casework.

As a second-year, I was the Co-President of the Women’s Business Association. This role sharpened my ability to rally folks around a shared vision, build and manage a diverse team, give space for individuals to leverage their unique strengths, and drive initiatives forward – all important for teaming and client relationships. 

Additionally, I engaged with Northwestern’s startup hub, The Garage, where I pursued a creative startup project. This self-directed program honed my skills in navigating ambiguity and driving toward a solution with imperfect information. 

What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice of Boston Consulting Group?
I interned with BCG where I had the opportunity to work on two really interesting cases—one of which focused on building an AI-power asset management tool and the other on developing an operations strategy. I had the chance to work with people in other countries and learn about industries I didn’t have previous professional exposure to. Importantly, I felt incredibly supported by my colleagues and believed they wanted to see me thrive. The experience confirmed my desire to pursue consulting post-MBA.  

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I chose BCG because it checked all the right boxes for me: a place bustling with smart people solving complex problems, a culture that prioritizes continuous growth, and a unique and welcoming community. Importantly, as a former DEI Talent Strategist, it was a non-negotiable for me to work at a firm that had dedicated and intentional DEI resources. I participated in BCG’s Empower Program, which confirmed my choice. 

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
One aspect of the job search I would definitely repeat is overpreparing for the case interview. As someone who was switching careers, I assumed it would be a critical part of my candidacy. To ensure I was ready, I used multiple resources, engaged in mock interviews with alumni, current students, friends in MLT, and even recorded and critically reviewed my responses to refine how I was presenting myself. 

–One thing you would change or do differently as part of the job search?
I recruited for consulting and brand management – which meant I prepared for technical interviews for both. At times, it was a bit overwhelming because I tend to go all in on my goals. This led to unnecessary stress. If I did it again, I would have tried to breathe more and enjoy the process of learning what it meant to follow the different paths. 

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
I was pleasantly surprised by how intentional BCG was with the recruiting process. In retrospect, it makes sense because the people have a material impact on the firm. BCG makes a lot of effort to get the right people in. They have dedicated roles to support recruiting taken on by consultants. As a result, there were lots of people for me to get connected to throughout the process who offered time to help prepare me for the interviews, despite being busy with casework. 

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Before you start your first day of class, spend time getting clear on your goals. What do you want to be able to say you accomplished when you walk across the graduation stage? Think big. Do you want to shape campus culture, dive deep into entrepreneurship, or become an expert in a field or skill? Do you want to focus on building relationships with people from different backgrounds and experiences? Do you want to experiment with work/life harmony? Do you want to find the love of your life or build lifelong friendships? Think about what will make you proud of yourself and use that as your guide as you’re making decisions about where to spend your time. There are so many amazing opportunities and things happening in the business school environment and it is easy to just aimlessly say yes to things and fill your plate. It’s okay to be choosy and prioritize what is good for you.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.