The 2015 Women Leaders in Consulting: Laura Miles


Laura Miles

Head of Global Mergers & Acquisitions/Corporate Finance Practice
Bain & Company
Leadership Award 

Laura Miles leads Bain & Company’s Global Mergers & Acquisitions / Corporate Finance Practice, overseeing both the firm’s corporate M&A and corporate finance sectors. She assumed this role after serving as the head of Bain’s Americas M&A Practice for more than four years.

Like many in the profession, however, Miles became a consultant somewhat by accident. She began her career as financial analyst at Salomon Brothers (now Citigroup). She liked professional services but wanted to try something other than investment banking. “While pursuing my MBA at Darden, I worked at Bain as a summer associate and decided that this could be my long-term career,” she says. “Early on, I was staffed on some M&A projects. I really enjoyed that they provided me with an opportunity to build on what I learned about transactions in the field of investment banking, but in a consulting environment.”

Miles officially joined the firm in 1998 and is based in Atlanta. Today, she leads merger integrations across a variety of industries including airlines, healthcare, consumer products, industrials and telecom. She also has expertise in consumer products and hospitality.

Since becoming a Bain partner in 2005, Miles has led or advised more than a dozen deals totaling over $78 billion, including one that created the world’s biggest airline at the time.

“Most of the time, we begin working with clients when they and their organizations are at a point of great uncertainty,” she says.

A larger merger creates stress and risk for employees, customers and shareholders and the best part of her job, she says, is helping clients transition from a mindset of worried enthusiasm to a place of confident realism. “It is incredibly rewarding to provide a sense of direction and clarity, based on my experiences in similar situations, to executives who are leading their companies on that journey.”

Miles takes great pride in the results her clients have achieved during their mergers, but her proudest professional moment within Bain has been being named head of the firm’s Global M&A/Corporate Finance Practice.

“Clients don’t always see value in consultants who “borrow your watch to tell you the time,” she says. “Instead, tell them what you think. They may not like your opinion or your perspective every time, but they will respect your professional integrity, and ultimately that is what makes you a more sought-after consultant.”

Miles says she is honored to receive the award. “It is a ‘thank you’ to my mentors, colleagues, clients and my family for all the ways they’ve encouraged and enabled me professionally and personally.”


What advice would you give to a female consultant just beginning her career?

Laura Miles says: “I would advise all consultants to take the long view. It is easy to look at any given month and decide a career in consulting isn’t for you. When I have felt this way in the past, I’ve always given myself a deadline. For example, “I will reconsider in three months if I’m still feeling the same way.” Often that peak period passes and I begin having fun in a sustainable way again. After 17 years in this business, I can say first-hand that the experiences you will have professionally along with the ability to manage your personal life will be unparalleled.”


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