• Role: Associate Consultant
  • Location: London
  • University: Oxford
  • Degree: Chemistry & DPhil in Molecular Physics
  • Organisation: Bain & Company

Sophie Horrocks

I joined as an Associate Consultant a few months ago, having spent the previous eight years at university completing my undergraduate degree in Chemistry, and then my DPhil in Molecular Physics. My start group was made up of undergraduates and postgraduates who had studied very different subjects, from Music to International Politics to Mathematics, and it was great getting to know such a diverse group during our first few weeks of training.

Problem solving through innovative thinking and careful analysis was inherent to my university studies, but the narrow focus of my work put me off pursuing scientific research as a career. Consulting offered an exciting opportunity to extend my abilities and learn new skills through constant involvement with new people, with the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects across a range of sectors.

Furthermore, the emphasis on teamwork and early responsibility were particularly attractive to me.

Bain & Company stood out as a consultancy firm because of the sheer diversity of their projects and the high profile of their clients. I am happy to say my initial positive impressions were confirmed throughout the recruiting process and during my first months here.

I have worked on a number of projects since joining Bain, which have varied in terms of timescale, industry and my role. My current project is working as part of a team for a leading car hire organisation, appraising debt collectability and ultimately working out ways to improve their outstanding debt position.

My first week working on debt appraisal

Monday
Our initial team meeting to kick off the new case starts at 09.00. At the start of a case, these meetings are focused around understanding the background to the project, the key questions we have been asked to consider and the timescales for delivery. For every project, each team member is responsible for part of the overall answer and so the core team will meet on a regular basis to provide an opportunity to share insights and to shape the final answer.

We have a client update on Friday. My input for this will be building a model forecasting future cash for the company. Initially this will be based on historic performance; subsequently we will look to develop a range of scenarios based on different actions to improve collections. After structuring the model, I need to set up client meetings to get the relevant data – a job for tomorrow!

Tuesday
I am off to the client site today to meet with the managers who can provide me with the data I need for my analysis. The decision to base cases either at the client site or the Bain office is largely dependent on the client and the type of work we are doing. In this case it is really useful to speak directly with the client as this gives you the best clarification about the data integrity, but also allows you to build collaborative relationships – invaluable for achieving the best long-term results.

The team also scheduled a meeting with the CEO in the afternoon as he is keen to meet us and it’s great to hear his thoughts and share our initial prognosis. The whole team return to London on the train which gives us an opportunity to wind down and get to know each other a bit better by chatting in a more informal environment.

Wednesday
The day starts with a training session and breakfast with my peer group in the office. We all had two weeks of training in London when we first started at Bain and then another two weeks in Boston followed up by these smaller sessions throughout the year, mostly led by people from the London office. The level of formal training and support you receive at Bain is extensive and has far exceeded my expectations – and there are plenty of people around to help out on a more ad-hoc basis too!

After training, I meet with my manager and consultant to discuss the structure of my model and the assumptions used as inputs. Then I crack on with the analysis.

Thursday
Having built the model and analysed the data, the next step is to think about the best way to present the findings to the client to ensure the key messages are clear. I design the slides on paper first and discuss them briefly with my manager. After a few amendments the team then get together to review the draft presentation for tomorrow.

At the end of the afternoon we have a small celebration with treats for one of the members of our bay (the part of the office where I sit) who has got engaged! These informal bay gatherings are a great way of catching up with people at all levels within the office and taking time out from casework.

Friday
Today the team come in at 07.30 to make final changes/checks to the client presentation. The early start is hard but great for team bonding and it is very satisfying as you get to see all the work coming together. The presentation is at 14.00…then the working week finishes!

I am off to my ‘Bain Business Awareness’ lesson however, which is a community project where consultants teach key business and career skills to a class at a local London school. I find this really rewarding and the lesson finishes just in time for me to head back into the office for ‘Friday drinks’ before the weekend.

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