At BCG, Explorers are unafraid to embark on new journeys. They try new solutions to untangle complex problems and drive transformational change. Ilya goes deep to understand challenges.
The best part of working at BCG is the people you meet here. Personalities range from academic types who hold PhDs in physics to entrepreneurs who built and sold their companies. They all work here because it crazy interesting. It just never gets boring.
Working at BCG opened my eyes to three facts about modern business and the role consultants play in it. The first is how complex modern business is. Even in a medium-size company of 4,000 employees, there is very little visibility from the top of the organization to the very bottom. I frequently get calls from C-level managers inquiring how a particular process in the organization (such as credit card approval in a bank) works and how to improve it.
The second is how desperately leaders of such complex organizations need support from independent, unbiased people. This is true both for standalone tasks as a strategy for the next five years and day-to-day operations. On one project, I had to design the organization for the maintenance function of a large mining company. I didn't have any other things on my agenda and no commitments except for generating value for the client. Therefore I was able to pick structure based on best practices, adapted for the reality of this particular client.
The third thing is the great responsibility that falls on you very early in your career. When I was still a young associate, I worked on a project in which the client made multimillion-dollar decisions in real time based on my analysis. On another project, the project manager from the client left for vacation for two weeks and asked me to oversee the work of his team of ten people, all working on their tasks. Both cases were extremely rewarding, but realization of responsibility completely changed my attitude toward work.
Ilya joined BCG in 2010. He has an MBA from the Wharton school, a master’s degree in corporate finance from the National Research University Higher School of Economics, and a bachelor’s degree in mathematical modeling in economics from Novosibirsk State University.
Q: What is a typical day like for you?
A: The best thing is that there is no such thing as a typical day. One day you can be working in the BCG Moscow office, preparing materials for the meeting next Tuesday. But just the next day you can be flying to the client site in Africa to conduct some on-the-ground research. And right after this you can be off to Munich to conduct a training for new consultants.
Q: How have you benefitted from a mentoring relationship at BCG?
A: Mentoring here is twofold: formal and informal. Formal mentoring happens regularly and you have to prepare for it. After every project, I take time to reflect on what went particularly well and what can be further improved. However, informal mentoring is arguably more important. Most of the things I learned are from more experienced colleagues and senior clients. Another aspect of mentoring is when you become a mentor yourself—when younger colleagues come to you for advice. This is a great responsibility but also very rewarding.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to work at BCG?
A: First of all, be yourself and know yourself well. The worst thing you can do in an interview is to pretend that you are someone who you are not. Many people have very successful careers and interesting personal stories; no need to fake it.
Second, prepare. This sounds trivial, but I do several job interviews a week and I'm surprised how unprepared some candidates are. The recruiting process is very transparent. There are multiple books and online resources that can help you prepare for consulting interviews. Moreover, BCG consultants are very open people and will be happy to help you. Just send somebody a message on LinkedIn and you will have all the firsthand knowledge you may need.