Principal, New York
At BCG, Visionaries navigate complexity with ease. They use their insight and intuition to identify the solutions that will create lasting impact. Kaelin connects the dots to see the bigger picture.
My role models at BCG have maintained their authentic communication and analytical styles—and that helps them drive impact at the client and with their teams.
When I joined BCG nine years ago as a newly minted college graduate with a degree in government, it was because I wanted more autonomy and challenge than a job on Capitol Hill might allow. As an associate, that meant owning part of a solution and developing my own analytical path. Three promotions, one MBA, three offices, and dozens of projects later, the firm still empowers me to act, though the types of challenges have evolved. For instance, the global head of my practice area and a partner in my office recently asked me to lead the transformation and own the CEO relationship at a brand-new client. I consider it my mandate to challenge and empower the associates and consultants on my teams so that their learning experiences are as rich as mine.
Kaelin holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MBA with high distinction from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar. She has worked in BCG's Chicago, San Francisco, and New York offices.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
A: While many people will tell you there is no typical day in consulting, I build a lot of routine into what looks like chaos in order to make the job more predictable. I'm up with the sun, and I spend the early morning doing yoga (a must!) and going for a run. Then I clear the short-term to-dos on the way to my client and check in on my broader work plan to make sure we're on track. If it's not a day with a major client meeting, I'll still check in with clients and partners, since getting buy-in along the way is the best way to avoid (sometimes unpleasant!) surprises. I'll spend the rest of the time working with my team on their one-off needs. I'm an introvert who prefers structure, so we'll schedule time to tackle specific, bite-size problems and then empower them to act. Since I work primarily in food and beverage, lunch often involves sampling some of our clients' latest products. I spend a lot of noncase time on recruiting, so I might chat with our office's recruiting partner or a prospective new consultant. I leave relatively early for the commute back to New York but often come back online later to review my team's work so that they're ready to roll the next morning.
Q: What is something that has surprised you about working at BCG?
A: In part because our job is about helping our clients own their successes, consultants don't get a lot of external recognition—and that's how it should be. But I've loved watching BCGers share their work with one another internally, and I am constantly impressed by the creative, impactful solutions we help to build.
Q: How would you describe the BCG community?
A: The BCG community is uniformly smart and welcoming. I love to travel, and I joke to my teams that I feel safe as long as I'm in a city with a BCG office—and I've taken advantage of that in places like Vienna where I arrived for a biking trip while I was on Time for You only to have the airline lose my luggage. BCG in Vienna project leaders and principals rallied to get me kitted up before we started riding the next day! BCG also unapologetically expects its people to bring their best to the table, and ideas trump tenure—in the office and at the client. Finally, it wasn't so long ago that BCG was quite small, and we've retained an entrepreneurial spirit that lets individuals set the boundaries (often boundless) on their contributions. For instance, when I was a second-year consultant working in the BCG Henderson Institute, I collaborated with a senior partner to write Your Strategy Needs a Strategy, a book published by the Harvard Business Press.