At BCG, Storytellers synthesize complex information and ideas. They believe in bringing the whole team together to get a broader perspective. Vanessa challenges the status quo.
BCG feels truly entrepreneurial – it is full of self-starters. The Christmas party, trainings, even PTO are designed, driven, and improved by BCGers. If you have an idea, you’re encouraged to run with it.
I joined BCG from the public sector via an MBA. I wanted the chance to continue learning, but while taking advantage of opportunities in the public and social impact space. BCG has offered both. Life here is a non-stop development opportunity, and I have spent my time 50-50 between the public and private sectors, as well as having the chance to volunteer as a mentor for social businesses.
My favorite parts of BCG life are two sides of the same coin. The first is building client relationships and working side-by-side to define and navigate the way forward. The other is coming back into the office on Friday to catch up with friends and colleagues, and hear about the huge variety of problems they are solving.
Vanessa studied History at Jesus College, Cambridge, and has an MBA from IESE.
Q: What did you learn in your first year on the job?
A: Practically, I learned how to start from having very little knowledge about a topic or even how to approach it, and get to ramp-up within a couple of days to start delivering insight and answers for the case team and client. Personally, I learned how to find that exciting rather than terrifying!
Q: What characteristics do you believe define a BCGer?
A: Humility – borne out of never feeling like they are the cleverest person in the room. Curiosity – finding new problems and content exciting. Drive – always wanting to deliver something of high quality and at speed, in a better way than the last time, all the while maintaining personal commitments and values.
Q: What international experiences at BCG have been the most interesting for you?
A: I spent four weeks with a startup in Amsterdam. We worked on a scaling strategy and operating model with a leadership team with an average age of 25. There were some cultural differences but we were mostly adapting to a startup style of working which I found most interesting. I also ate my weight in stroopwaffels.
Q: How do you maintain a sustainable career balance at BCG?
A: I have recently started working at 80% because of a chronic back issue. This is a new initiative and the London office and my case team have been supportive in working together in a test-and-learn to make it work. I plan my holidays well, and always use kick-off conversations in cases to make sure we talk about what sustainability means for all team members, because everyone tends to have different interpretations and measures.
Q: What are you most curious about?
A: I am always most curious about people. What makes them how they are, what informs their likes, dislikes, the way they behave and make decisions, what drives them. What is the human capacity for change and growth and what environment or type of support best brings that about. This obviously translates quite well into the people and organization challenges that you find on almost any BCG case. On a macro level, at the moment it’s dominating my thinking on sustainability: how do you change global habits and norms at the pace that’s required to protect our environment?
Q: If you weren't working at BCG, what would you be doing?
A: If I wasn’t at BCG I would be working for a social startup, something around inclusion or rehabilitation for members of society who tend to face severe challenges in finding jobs.
Q: What was one of your favorite case experiences?
A: I was working on a Frontline Leadership case, aiming to drive the performance of service engineers across the country through how they are managed by their immediate bosses. We held a workshop with around ten of the star leaders, and got to talk to them about what made them excel. They were a humble group, and often didn’t realize or couldn’t pinpoint what exactly they were doing. But drawing out their experiences and collectively discussing some of the actions they were taking was very powerful. We created a blueprint for what effective leadership looked like in this company’s context, but also gave recognition to a group that really cared about their jobs and their direct reports, which felt like it had equal impact.