From French Literature to Business Leader

Women from all backgrounds are building standout careers at BCG. Judith is one of them, and she exemplifies the limitless potential of a culture that promotes employees solely based on their accomplishments.

After completing master’s degrees in history and German and French literature, Judith considered staying in academia to earn a PhD in French Revolution-era stage design. Instead, she joined BCG and today is helping to lead a revolution in transforming business, health care, and society.

Although Judith’s original dream job was to become a diplomat, an internship at BCG convinced her to change her path. “I was the typical insecure overachiever,” she says. “I worked hard and excelled in my studies, but I felt even my professors and fellow students didn't truly value the work we were doing in the humanities. Suddenly when I got to BCG, everyone showed respect and genuine interest for what I was doing at university. It was a really transformative experience, and for the first time it truly felt like I was making a difference.”

Judith is among the high number of non-business graduates who build diverse and successful careers at BCG. She is a partner and managing director in our Munich, is a core member of our German Health Care practice, leads the BCG Henderson Institute (our global think tank) in Europe, and is a BCG Fellow. Judith is also part of a team that manages BCG’s global partnership with TED, including the curating of TED@BCG events in cities around the world.

Motivated by her father’s six-year battle with cancer, Judith has dedicated much of her career at BCG to helping pharmaceutical clients develop new treatments for cancer, diabetes, and rare diseases, and speed new life-saving drugs to market. She is fascinated by the progress science has made in the past decade, and is acutely aware of the obstacles that prevail in turning it into tangible patient benefits. Supporting this progress is a deep passion she shares with her clients.


"Women on my teams consistently say that BCG provides a more level playing field for them to rise through the ranks."

Judith Wallenstein

Judith believes that her unusual background has actually, and unexpectedly, helped her a lot in her BCG career. “In business strategy, little is black and white. Neither do organizations function in these extremes. My background in the humanities prepared me to think differently and to focus on the gray areas where you can learn the most—and make the biggest difference,” Judith says. “BCG does an amazing job of helping people like me from nontraditional backgrounds learn the skills of business and consulting, while building on our own individual strengths. It’s a highly personalized process; we understand everyone is different—and everyone has different things to learn.”

Fostering an Environment of Fairness, not Favoritism

Over her 16-year career, Judith has witnessed many changes at BCG, but two things have remained constant: the firm’s objective, rather than subjective, professional advancement practices and a culture of caring. Both, she believes, make BCG a fantastic environment in which women can build outstanding careers and lives.

“Quite frankly, being a woman has never been a disadvantage for me at BCG,” she says. “Performance is measured in a very stringent way and applied equally to men and women, so no one is getting ahead just because he’s a guy, or because of office politics. You always know exactly what’s expected of you, and there’s a very sophisticated way of measuring one's performance. Constant developmental feedback is baked into our culture. That makes it a very good environment for women to excel—because it’s high pressure and competitive, but also feels very safe.”

"Caring is not optional here. It is the foundation of what makes us successful."

Judith Wallenstein

“Caring is not optional here,” Judith continues. “It is the foundation of what makes us successful. We have a high-touch coaching model, which means project leaders and principals provide daily feedback and encouragement to team members, always with an eye toward helping them to learn and grow. At the same time, BCG's culture leaves you a lot of freedom. You can do whatever you want outside of work and no one could care less, in a very good way.”

Compared with career opportunities at start-up companies, Judith also gives BCG the edge, citing the opportunity to work on business- and world-shaping projects, and to constantly reinvent yourself by pursuing new personal or professional interests. Judith’s own interest in Burning Man—she is married to a veteran “Burner” and has joined him at the desert event together with her two preschool children every year since 2013—inspired her to apply for, and receive, a BCG Fellowship to study how growth of the sharing economy will impact business and society.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” Judith says. “Very few organizations would have taken the risk of turning an ivory-tower historian and linguist into a health care consultant. It really sets us apart as a company.”