The 2015 Best Firms to Work: The Boston Consulting Group


Headquarters: Boston
Billable Consultants: 10,500 (total employees)
Type of Consulting Service: Focus on Strategy, but Multi-Service
Client Industries: Virtually all

It’s two years running for The Boston Consulting Group as the No. 1 firm in Consulting’s annual Best Firms to Work For ranking. The top-dog ranking continues a unprecedented run of success for BCG—It’s the only firm to appear on the list all 15 years since the survey began back in 2001. And if that wasn’t extraordinary enough, BCG has never been ranked outside of the Top 5.

“The leadership of BCG around the world and across our practices has as its highest priority making BCG the very best place for top talent” says Rich Lesser, President and CEO. “It is fundamental to the firm’s ability to take on clients’ toughest problems and drive the kind of change and value delivery they expect.”

In that context, “being recognized as the Best Firm to Work For in our industry is an important acknowledgment of the kind of firm and work environment we’ve created and reinforced,” Lesser says. “We strive to be the very best place for people to develop the mindsets, skills, and capabilities to be leaders in the world. We put tremendous emphasis on our culture, our apprenticeship model, and on doing genuinely high-impact work with our clients.”

Lesser says BCG is not now, and has never been, driven by external honors, but it’s certainly a source of pride to see the firm’s efforts so well recognized.

BCG finished atop four of the six categories the survey measured—Culture, Compensation & Benefits, Career Development and Leadership.

Part of the reason for that success, Lesser says, is hiring people who are incredibly achievement-oriented and want to make a difference in the world. “BCG is truly unique in its ability to drive impact for leading businesses, the public sector, and for social-sector organizations,” he says.

Secondly, Lesser says the firm provides a unique environment for people to grow personally and professionally at an exceptionally fast rate—to prepare for major leadership opportunities in BCG and beyond. “Our people learn very quickly how to chart a course in uncertain waters, drive complex change in organizations, and build an important set of leadership and collaboration skills with strong support from their colleagues,” he says.

Thirdly, recruits at all levels of experience and expertise appreciate BCG’s non-hierarchical and team-oriented culture and the ability to connect and grow with others at the firm through a variety of paths. “The opportunity to have unique impact, grow personally and professionally, and do it in a culture where you enjoy the people you work with makes BCG unparalleled as a place to work.”

It doesn’t hurt, of course, that BCG continues to grow, churning out successful year after year. The firm continues to see healthy double-digit growth as a firm, a pattern BCG has sustained over decades, including the last one despite all its macro-economic challenges, he says. This reinforcing the sense that clients genuinely appreciate the value BCG brings to the table.

“We are growing, we see enormous opportunities to make a difference at our clients, and we believe we can contribute in many ways to change the world—not only in our client work, but also in our social impact engagement in health, education, development, sustainability, and many other areas,” he says. “When you see so many places where you can make a difference, it is hard not to be energized about it.”

Lesser says morale stems from the tremendous sense of opportunity and tangible success in creating sustainable growth and value for clients. “We are helping clients find new avenues of growth, win in the digital landscape, achieve simplicity and effectiveness, and transform; we are getting to take on our clients’ most important challenges and develop deep and lasting relationships,” he says. “Our people also have significant opportunities to forge their own paths within BCG and take on an enormous range of challenges.”

Lesser says he’s also “enormously privileged” to partner with leading social-sector organizations around the world to apply the best of BCG—its business expertise and capabilities—to critical social challenges. “Last year, BCG completed approximately 300 social impact projects, collaborating with approximately 150 leading local, regional, and global organizations to increase their efficiency and effectiveness—and ultimately their impact,” he says. “Our employees highly value these opportunities.”

Meanwhile, on the client side, Lesser says BCG is unique in its ability to provide highly customized insights and to work collaboratively to translate those insights into lasting impact and value.

“We have tremendous depth across both industry sectors and key functional topics, and globally we can mobilize teams and share practices across geographies quickly and seamlessly,” he says. “Our clients also appreciate our ability to change at least as fast as the environment.”

The best current example, he says, is BCG’s new Digital Ventures business, which is helping clients set digital innovation agendas and rapidly create new digital products and services. “We’ve been pioneers in integrating these capabilities into a single offering and the response from clients has been overwhelmingly positive,” he says.

This year, BCG also launched two institutions: The Bruce Henderson Institute, dedicated to pioneering new ideas and approaches to solving business challenges, and the Centre for Public Impact, a nonprofit BCG foundation that brings together world leaders to exchange ideas to accelerate change and strengthen the public impact of their organizations. “These initiatives have helped us continue to win in an ever more competitive consulting environment and to make us an enormously attractive place for people at all levels to reach their full potential,” Lesser says.

BCG is normally among the very first to spot ideas that matter most to businesses and help them make those ideas relevant, he says.

On the people side, he says, BCG always has a broad set of improvement objectives underway. This year, that has included major efforts to strengthen our mobility programs, roll-out flexibility opportunities, encourage diversity (focusing on women and including LGBT and ethnic diversity), improve career development at all levels, and support those in transition to our large and strong alumni community.

“We also continue to accelerate our global training and learning platforms, both for our own staff and to enable our clients’ organizations,” Lesser says.

In addition, Lesser says BCG’s partnership structure is a real advantage. “Every partner is equal in terms of voting rights, regardless of seniority,” he says. “That means BCG has an unusually democratic, non-hierarchical and open culture—within the partnership and throughout the firm—and one that can embrace change quickly.”

Q&A: What’s your top priority over the next 12 months?

Rich Lesser, President and CEO of BCG, says: “Every year our top priorities are to attract, develop, and retain the very best people and to create an environment where they can make a difference with our clients around the world. That long-term focus never changes. In today’s environment, our clients also have large and high-stakes change agendas to find growth, drive productivity, incorporate digital and other technologies into the core of their business models, and better prioritize and relate to their customers. Specifically, we have major efforts to deepen digital capabilities and help our clients prepare for a very different landscape in the years ahead.”

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