Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Sponsored by JHMI Professional Development Office
Roger Sawhney, VP and Partner, Bethesda
- Roger has been with BCG for 9 ½ years. He helped start the New York Office and
currently serves as a partner in the DC office
- Prior to joining BCG, Roger earned his MD from Harvard and did a residency in
Troy Andre, Project Lead, Bethesda
- Troy was recently promoted from consultant to project manager in the DC office
- He earned a PhD in Physics from the University of Chicago
The Boston Consulting Group was founded in 1963 and has, for the past 43 years, been
dedicated to helping companies improve performance through innovative strategies,
operational excellence, organizational design, and leadership of change. BCG currently
has over 4,400 total employees and 2,600 consultant staff in 60 offices worldwide.
BCG’s European presence is slightly larger than that of North America and their Asian
presence s rapidly growing.
What they do:
BCG is heavily engaged in corporate strategy consulting. That is, helping clients making
difficult choices in the business environment. Clients range from Fortune 500 companies
to start up Biotech’s. Consultants at BCG help C level managers (CIO, CEO, Chief Sales
Officer, etc) and board members make informed decisions that will impact the overall
productivity and business strategy of their respective organization. With regards to the
healthcare arena, projects could range from helping a diversified pharmaceutical
company grow expand the presence of a medical product that has been on the market for
several years to working with a multinational pharm company to revisit their entire
business model to develop strategies to generate additional revenue growth. Outside the
healthcare arena, BCG consultants work on a variety of strategic initiatives for their
clients in the information technology, finance and consumer goods and services sectors.
This area is the 2nd biggest practice area for BCG in North America, accounting for
approx. $120-130 Million in revenue, and 3rd worldwide. 25 BCG partners have efforts
focused solely on this sector. 60% of their healthcare focus is related to pharm (mostly
San Francisco and Los Angeles areas) and biotech (greatest concentration along the East
Coast corridor and California), 20% related to medical devices (high concentration in the
Chicago and Minneapolis areas) and the remaining 10% of their practice is geared
towards paired provider work (i.e. Hopkins Medicine, Stanford, UCSF, etc).
What is the role of PhD’s and MD’s at BCG:
According to Roger, last year’s BCG recruiting class was approximately 80% MBA’s
and 20% non-MBA’s (includes advanced degrees as well as undergrads from top 5 or 6
schools). Approximately, 220-250 new consultants were hired last year in North America
and about 1,000 globally, though this number varies from year to year. Roger stated that
BCG is currently experiencing tremendous growth. They are currently a 2Billion dollar
firm and the future outlook is strong in terms of financial stability.
Those who possess advanced degrees are typically brought as consultants or generalists.
That is, BCG does not hire advanced degree candidates to specialize in a certain area.
Rather, as generalists these individuals can be assigned to any project whether it be
related to finance or the airline industry. BCG offers a diversity of experience
Troy commented on several skills that PhD level scientists bring, specifically their unique
analytical abilities. BCG seeks scientists because of their ability to think creatively while
researching and dissecting complex problems. Troy said this made for a natural transition
from academia to consulting.
BCG has received a great deal of press for their professional development initiates.
Internally, they have a Career Development Committee which employs a holistic
approach to how they evaluate and promote employees. Each employee at BCG meets
with a career development advisor twice a year to overview their own performance
expectations. Each incoming class is assigned an ambassador who works with consultants
in that class throughout their tenure to ensure BCG is attending to the professional
development needs of that cohort.
Non-MBA new hires are put through a 3-week Business Essentials Program which is a
formalized training program that teaches business skills and concepts adapted from top
tiered MBA programs. In addition to this formal training opportunity, non-MBA’s
receive extensive on the job training, with an apprenticeship model, learning as you go
and picking up business practices and concepts in a relatively short period of time. Due to
the diversity of projects, consultants at BCG are trained cross functionally
Consultants with 2-3 years tenure are eligible to participate in BCG’s Ambassador
Program. This program provides a consultant an opportunity to work for an extended
period at one of BCG’s overseas offices, while being paid on a US based salary.
Career Path, salary and work hours:
Climbing the ladder from consultant to partner can typically take anywhere from 6 to 8
years. Partner typically manage a staff of 6 or so consultants, though it varies from office
to office The career path structure at BCG is as follows:
Consultant-------Project Lead--------Manager-----------VP and Partner
(2-3 yrs.) (2 yrs.) (2-3 yrs.)
Roger stated that starting salary for consultants is approx. $120,000 to 125,000K with
bonus potential up to 40% base salary and 15% of total compensation for Profit Sharing
Retirement Fund. Manager can expect to earn in the mid 6 figures and Partner in the low
Consultants can expect to work 60-70 hours per week. If a project requires traveling, it
will typically involve travel 2-3 days per week
Structure of projects:
For each project a management team consisting of a partner, manager and project lead is
assigned. The management team works to conceptualize the client’s case and
structure/frame the case into multiple pieces or modules. Each consultant is given an
individual module or concrete piece of work. Often times this might entail acquiring
different data elements (i.e. conducting market research, purchasing external data
sources, etc) and briefing other consultants with information obtained. The next step,
once the data is acquired, involves comparing the findings to the hypothesis formulated
by the manager to create a logical story to present to the client.
The application and screening process:
The recruitment process at BCG is very systematic. Interested candidates should apply
directly through BCG’s website at www.bcg.com. The application will consist of a
resume (one page, research activities should be very succinct and focus, not heavy
technical jargon), transcripts, test scores and a personal statement. Candidates who pass
this initial screening will be invited to interview at the DC office. This first round of
interviews will consist of 3 case interviews. Case interviews are essentially actual BCG
cases that have been slightly changed or molded down so that individuals without a
business background can get their head around the actual task at hand. Candidates will be
asked to work their way through these cases and BCG representatives will be assessing
the candidates ability to take a vague requirement and break it down into individual
problems. Candidates without a business background will not be at a disadvantage.
Rather, PhD and MD level scientists will have an opportunity to employ their analytical
skills in tackling these problems and showing the various relationships between different
aspects of the problem. If candidates pass this round of interviews, they will be invited to
a decision round of interviews at their preference site. Candidates choose 3-4 office
locations that would like to work at. Almost always, candidates are selected to their top
preference. During this round of interviews, candidates will meet with managers and
partners and be put through and additional round of cases. If they pass, the final interview
will be an informal interview with a partner. Typically, this process takes 2 ½ months. To
best prepare for these interviews, practice case interviews. Also, Roger suggested
skimming through MBA reference manuals such as “The Portable MBA”, just to get a
lay of the land for how the business world works and some basic concepts. Also, practice
case interviews. You can find these free online.