Persistence of Culture in a Large Firm

(Weeks 1 & 2)

Bain’s culture and norms really stood out to me during the first couple of weeks of my internship. Both in training and in my first week working on a case-team, I noticed the strength of the organization’s culture and the way that individuals within the organization lived it every day.

 

There are significant expectations and values about the way that work is committed. It was re-iterated time and time again how important it is to arrive at the right answer, rather than one that is convenient to you or the team. Bain takes the success of clients personally, and any sort of fudging of information or lack of ethics in the presentation of data is not tolerated. I noticed this first hand while working on creating a chart in which numbers didn’t tie. While it would have been simple for my supervisor and I to just write a number up or down by a relatively inconsequential amount, we instead got to the bottom of the discrepancy and represented the data as accurately as possible, rather than cutting corners.

 

Further, Bain’s context as a consulting firm is unique to the way it operates. Something that was re-iterated was the concept of “True-North.” This phrase is a standard for ethical behavior in both internal and external work that employees complete. IT was refreshing to see that a company that has such influence over those organizations which it consults for was so committed to acting with high ethical standards and a concern for the health of businesses in mind. Given the importance of the client-firm relationship, leadership needs to be supremely attentive to the way which work is completed and the standard which it is completed at, as to preserve the firm’s reputation in a highly reputation-based industry.

 

The social culture of the firm is certainly strong, as the company makes a concerted effort to get co-workers to know one another as friends and people as opposed to colleagues. This is reflected by others who work in the firm as people seem to be committed to getting to know me outside of work on a personal level. One thing about culture that did surprise me, however, is that with any large corporation there will be gaps in the familial feeling that I have gotten at other firms I’ve worked for in the past. This isn’t to say that this cultural shift that happens once a company reaches a certain size is right or wrong per se, just a fact of working for a large corporation. I do think, however, that having a class of interns that I work alongside and attend events with allows this familiarity on a smaller scale, and is something that has to be sought outside of work moreso due to the nature of large corporations.

 

Overall, I find Bain’s culture to be very central to the actions that all employees take on a daily basis and the way that decisions are made. With any large corporation, however, you will always lose a bit of the personal touch of a smaller firm, but this is to be expected.

One thought on “Persistence of Culture in a Large Firm

  • July 11, 2019 at 4:19 pm
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    So it sounds like Bain not only explicitly discusses its values, attitudes, and expectations directly with new employees/interns, they also reinforce that regularly in regards to how they carry out projects, interact with clients, complete work. It is indeed refreshing to hear that acting ethically and in the best interest of the client are paramount; that does seem to be something missing when you hear reports about various companies. As for the threshold in terms of size – good question, at one point is too large – when you start to lose key elements of the culture that are pretty paramount to the organization and its mission, the way it functions. Would be interested to hear more about communication (in general) – as you continue there.

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