Caroline completed a Bachelor of Commerce (Co-op Scholarship) at UNSW in 2010, majoring in Marketing and Business Strategy. Now she's working as a management consultant at a company that was voted the #1 place to work for. This is her story.

Where are you working now and what does it involve?
I work in strategy management consulting at Bain & Company.  Essentially it’s about assisting other organisations to make wise choices and then using their resources (employees, finances) to follow through on those decisions. 

Broadly, there are three activities that I do each day – answer generation, client collaboration and team interaction.  Answer generation is where I spend most of my time and can be the most challenging (and rewarding!) part of the job.  It’s about taking time to really understand the challenge my client is facing and all the factors which need to be considered.  Once that’s been done, I collect any relevant data – and that doesn’t just mean spreadsheet data, it could be from interviews or surveys – and analyse it.  The last step to answer generation is about coming up with practical and realistic solutions for the client to solve the challenge they are facing.  Client collaboration is one of my favourite parts of the job, working alongside the client to really understand their business and how we can work together to make it the best it can be.  Team interaction is also lots of fun – at Bain we really enjoy working together so it makes it a real pleasure to come to work everyday.  (We were voted #1 company to work for on for good reason!)

What was the most useful aspect of your degree which led you to this job?
Participating in the UNSW Co-op Scholars program was by far the most useful aspect of my degree.  This program offers students the opportunity to complete industry work placements whilst still studying.  I had the opportunity to work in marketing on brands like Golden Crumpets and Yahoo!7 – pretty amazing for someone who hadn’t yet finished their undergraduate degree! 

The experience of having worked for different companies before I even graduated meant I was able to better understand the type of work and the kind of people I wanted to work with before I even started looking for a job.  As much as marketing can be fun, I found I easily got bored working on the same brand or with the same group of people for a long period of time.  So I knew I wanted to work on a diverse range of projects and with different people. I also had the opportunity to see how useful getting an external perspective on a business can help to improve it and that’s essentially what management consulting is all about.

What was the most useful aspect of your university that led you to this job?
I lived a pretty full-on life while I was at university - I became fluent in Spanish through the university exchange program in Spain, achieved a 1st Kyu brown belt in karate, was working full-time at various stages, and initiated ‘Global Village,’ a student volunteer program, in conjunction with the charity Habitat for Humanity Australia.  Everything I did at university was because I was really passionate about it, but it did also help when it came time for getting a job.  Employers are looking for individuals that take initiative, work well in teams, are able to lead groups and have a sense of community involvement, and getting involved at university is a great way to demonstrate that.

What is the most rewarding and most challenging part of your job?
Management consulting is - by nature - a challenging field to work in.  It usually involves travel, it can be long hours and you’re always expected to be doing the best for your client.  We work with the client Monday to Thursday each week which means you could be anywhere in Australia on those days (I’ve been travelling down to Melbourne for my client for the past few months).  We do also work longer hours than the average work week. 

There are so many ‘best bits’ to the job that it’s hard to know where to start.  I’ve found the training program to be pretty amazing – in my first year I had about 5 weeks of professional development training (two weeks in Australia before I even began working, two weeks in the US once I’d be working for a few months and half day training sessions every month).  The nature of the work is also incredibly interesting – we get to work on some of the most challenging problems which senior executives in organisations around Australia are facing.  The people at Bain are also just really enjoyable to work with – they are bright, passionate, driven and down-to-earth - a rare combination! 

What career plans do you have beyond this job?
I’m still really enjoying my time with Bain, so I haven’t started future career options.  Next year I’d like to go to business school to further refine my business knowledge, learn more about social innovation and enterprise and make some great friends. 

What advice would you give to new university students hoping to find a similar job to the one you have? 
I’ve always believed that the work that you find most interesting and enjoyable is the  where you will succeed, so if you are looking at pursing a career in management consulting definitely think about your strengths and if it’s the kind of work that you could imagine yourself finding really invigorating and exciting.