Bain & Company
Bain & Company
Incorporated partnership
Industry Management consulting
Founded 1973; 45 years ago (1973)[1]
Founder Bill Bain[1]
Headquarters Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Number of locations
Key people
Bob Bechek
Products Management consulting services
Revenue $3.7-4.5 billion (estimated 2017)[3][4]
Number of employees
8,000 (2018)[5]

Bain & Company is a global management consultancy headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. It is one of the 'Big Three' management consultancies (MBB).[6] The firm provides advice to public, private, and non-profit organizations around the world, including 60% of the Fortune 500.[7] Bain is consistenly recognized as one of the most prestigious firms in the industry,[8] and is recognized as one of the best companies to work for by Glassdoor.[9]

Corporate history


The idea for Bain & Company was conceived of by founder William Bain during his time at the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).[10][11]Bruce Henderson had expected that Bain would succeed him as CEO eventually.[10][11] However, Bain was frustrated by the wait for Henderson's retirement, the firm's project-based approach to consulting, and the refusal of management to help clients execute on the firm's advice.[10][11] Bain resigned to start his own consulting firm in 1973.[12][a]

Mr. Bain started Bain & Company with six former BCG consultants[13] from his apartment in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston.[14] Henderson accused Bain of stealing BCG's clientele.[11] Within a few weeks, Bain & Company was working with seven former BCG clients.[10] This included two of BCG's largest clients, Black & Decker and Texas Instruments,[11][13] for whom Mr. Bain was responsible at BCG.[12]

Bain & Company grew quickly,[15] primarily through word-of-mouth among CEOs and board members.[16] The firm established its first formal office in Boston.[10] This was followed by a European office in London in 1979.[10] Bain & Company was incorporated in 1985.[12] The firm grew an average of 50 percent per year, reaching $150 million in revenues by 1986.[16] The number of staff at the firm tripled from 1980 to 1986, reaching 800 in 1987.[16] By 1987, Bain & Company was one of the four largest "strategy specialist" consulting firms.[15] Employee turnover was 8 percent annually compared to an industry average of 20 percent.[16] Some of the firm's largest clients in this period were National Steel and Chrysler, each of which reduced manufacturing costs with Bain's help.[10]


In the late 1980s, Bain & Company experienced a series of setbacks.[13] A public relations crisis emerged in 1987, due to a controversy involving Bain's work with Guinness.[10] Tension was growing over the firm's partnership structure, whereby only Mr. Bain knew how much the firm was making and decided how much profit-sharing each partner received.[16] The stock market crashed the same year, and many Bain clients reduced or eliminated their spending with the firm.[12] There were two rounds of layoffs, eliminating about 30 percent of the workforce.[12][13][b]

The Guinness share-trading fraud began with Britain's Department of Trade and Industry investigating whether Bain's client Guinness illegally inflated its stock price.[11] Bain had helped Guinness trim 150 companies from its portfolio after a period of excessive diversification,[16] and expand into hard liquor with the acquisition of two whiskey companies,[10] growing profits six-fold.[16] During this time, Bain made an exception to company policy by allowing a consultant to serve as an interim board member and head of finance for Guinness.[11][16] Bain & Company was not accused of any wrongdoing and no charges were pressed against Bain[17] for the manipulation of the stock price, but having a Bain consultant work as both vendor and client drew criticisms of Bain's handling of a conflict of interest situation.[11][16]

In 1985 and 1986, Bain & Company took out loans to buy 30 percent of the firm from Mr. Bain and other partners for $200 million and used the shares to create an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).[13][18] These shares of the company were bought at five times Bain & Company's annual revenue, more than double the norm, and cost the firm $25 million in annual interest fees, exacerbating the firm's financial troubles.[13] Mr. Bain hired former U.S. Army general Peter Dawkins as the head of North America in hopes that new leadership could bring about a turnaround, but Dawkins' leadership led to even more turnover at the firm.[10] Bill Bain also attempted to sell the firm, but was unsuccessful at finding a buyer.[10]


Mr. Bain brought in Mitt Romney to lead Bain Capital in 1983.[12][c] Bain Capital was an independent private equity firm that would buy companies that Bain Capital consultants would improve and re-sell.[12] Many of Bain's partners invested in Bain Capital's funds.[12] Romney was appointed interim CEO of Bain & Company in 1990[18] and is credited with saving the company from bankruptcy during his one year stint in the position.[20][21] Romney allowed managers to know each other's salaries,[20] re-negotiated the firm's debt,[22] and restructured the organization so more partners had an ownership stake in the firm.[13] Romney convinced the founding partners to give up $100 million in equity.[18] Bain and most of the founding partners left the firm.[12]

Orit Gadiesh

In 1993, Romney organized an election to appoint new leaders the following year, leading to the appointment of Orit Gadiesh as chairman and Tom Tierney as Managing Director.[12][23] Gadiesh improved morale and loosened the firm's policy against working with multiple companies in the same industry, in order to decrease the firm's reliance on a small number of clients.[21] By 1993, Bain & Company was growing once again[14][21] and Mitt Romney left to pursue a career in politics.[10] The firm went from 1,000 employees at its peak, to 550 in 1991, back up to 800.[21] The firm opened more offices, including one in New York in 2000.[10] From 1992 through 1999, the firm grew 25 percent per year and expanded from 12 to 26 offices.[24] By 1998, the firm had $220 million in annual revenues and 700 staff.[11]

Recent history

Bain created two technology consulting practice groups, bainlab and BainNet, in 1999 and 2000 respectively.[10] bainlab was originally founded as Bain New Venture Group.[25] It helped startups who otherwise might not afford Bain's fees and accepted partial payment in equity.[25] In February 2000, Gadiesh was elected for her third consecutive term as the firm's chairman, and Tom Tierney was replaced by John Donahoe as managing director.[14] Around 2000, the firm became more involved in consulting private equity firms on which companies to invest in and collaborating with technology consulting firms.[24] By 2005, Bain had the largest share of the market for private equity consulting.[26]

Bain & Company does not publish its revenues, but it is estimated to have experienced double-digit annual growth in the 2000s.[26] Although the market for management consulting was declining, the Big Three management consulting firms like Bain & Company continued to grow.[27] Bain expanded to new offices in other countries,[10] including India in 2006.[28][29] Like the other big consulting firms, it began working more with governments.[27] Bain maintained a "generalist" approach to management consulting, but created a separate specialist business unit for IT and technology.[26] In 2012, Bob Bechek was appointed CEO and was later ranked as the most-liked CEO in Glassdoor employee surveys.[30]

Consulting services

Bain & Company provides management consulting services primarily to Fortune 500 CEOs.[10] The firm advises on issues such as private equity investments, mergers & acquisitions, corporate strategy, finance, operations, and market analysis.[31] It also has departments focused on customer loyalty, word of mouth marketing, and digital technology.[32] Most of its consulting is on corporate strategy.[33]

In 2000, The Bridgespan Group was created to work with non-profits and to facilitate pro-bono work for staff.[10] Later in the 2000s, Bain introduced service packages for specific areas of expertise, such as the supply chain.[10] The firm also became more heavily involved in consulting with private equity firms, advising on what companies to buy, facilitating a turnaround, and then re-selling the company.[26] In early 2006, Bain started selling its "net-promoter score" system, which tracks customer sentiment.[34]

Initially Bain & Company would only work with one organization in each industry, in order to avoid conflicts of interest,[11][16] but this practice was loosened in the 1990s, after William Bain's departure from the firm.[14] Bain began accepting equity as payment in some instances in the 1980s[10] and later started providing free consulting during a trial period.[11][16] Compared to other consulting firms, Bain is more focused on proving its worth through immediate stock and profit increases.[11]


Bain & Company claims a typical engagement increases the client's profits by 5-10 times the amount spent on its services.[11] A March 1989 audit by Price Waterhouse found that the market value of Bain's clients increased an average of 456 percent over nine years.[11] The "Bain Index," which tracks the collective stock prices of Bain clients, grew in stock price by 319% from 1980 to 1987, compared to 141% growth in the Dow Jones Industrial Average.[16]

According to Fortune Magazine, Bain asks clients to make long-term commitments to the firm and consultants often become deeply embedded in their clients' daily operations.[16] Sometimes consultants are acting as though, and treated as if, they are a member of the company's own senior management.[12] Often clients become reliant on Bain & Company, who has consultants integrated throughout the company's key functions.[16]

Corporate culture

Bain & Company is known for being secretive.[11][16] The firm is sometimes referred to as the "KGB of Consulting."[12][33] Clients are given codenames.[35] Employees must sign nondisclosure contracts, promising not to reveal client names, and are required to adhere to a "code of confidentiality."[11]

Bain employees are sometimes called "Bainies."[31] It was originally a pejorative term, but was adopted by employees as an affectionate term.[31] According to Fortune Magazine, were Bain & Company a person, "it would be articulate, attractive, meticulously well groomed, and exceedingly charming. It would exude Southern gentility. But it would also be a shrewd, intensely ambitious strategist, totally in control."[16]

Bain is often placed among the top best places to work in annual rankings by Glassdoor[36] and Consulting Magazine.[37] Bain primarily hires MBAs from prestigious business schools,[11] but it is one of the first firms to hire consultants with a Bachelor's degree.[33] The firm is organized primarily by geographic office, with each location acting somewhat independently.[33] It also has a mix of overlapping functional (such as M&A, technology, or loyalty) and industry (financial services, healthcare, etc.) teams.[33] An elected worldwide managing director is allowed up to three, three-year terms under the firm's bylaws.[24] Bain is unusual in the management consulting industry in that new consultants are not required to specialize in an industry or practice area.[31]

Notable alumni

This is a non-exhaustive list of notable alumni of Bain & Company.


Politics and public service




  1. ^ Some sources say he started a software company first.[10]
  2. ^ Sources conflict on whether total layoffs were 20%, 27%, or 30%.
  3. ^ Mitt Romney's work with Bain Capital was part of his election campaign.[19]


  1. ^ a b "#77 Bain & Co". Forbes. Retrieved 2017. 
  2. ^ "Worldwide offices". Bain & Company. Retrieved 2017. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Freelance consulting: Sharp suits or pyjamas?". The Economist. March 2, 2015. Retrieved 2017. 
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^,19.htm
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Grant, Tina (2003). Bain & Company. International Directory of Company Histories. 55. St. James Press. pp. 41-43. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Gallese, Liz Roman (September 24, 1989). "Counselor To The King". Retrieved 2017. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Kiechel, W. (2010). The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the New Corporate World. Harvard Business Press. ISBN 978-1-59139-782-3. Retrieved 2017. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g "Can Bain Consultants Get Bain & Co. Out Of This Jam?". February 11, 1991. Retrieved 2017. 
  14. ^ a b c d "Bain & Company", Vault Employer Profile, 2001 
  15. ^ a b Payne, Adrian; Lumsden, Cedric (1987). "Strategy Consulting - A Shooting Star?". Long Range Planning. 20 (3): 53-63. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Perry, Nancy (April 27, 1987). "A Consulting Firm Too Hot to Handle? Bain & Co. gets its hands deep in the trousers of client companies, says an executive who knows it well. Maybe too deep, the Guinness scandal suggests". Fortune. Retrieved 2017. 
  17. ^ "Bain defends consultancy industry". Financial Times. Retrieved 2017. 
  18. ^ a b c "Did Mitt Romney get a 'bailout' for Bain & Company?". Washington Post. July 24, 2012. Retrieved 2017. 
  19. ^ Lattman, Peter (August 31, 2012). "Before Romney's Big Speech, a Focus on Bain". DealBook. Retrieved 2017. 
  20. ^ a b Groth, Aimee; Lubin, Gus (December 15, 2011). "A Company Saved From Bankruptcy By Romney Was Just Named The Best Employer In America". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017. 
  21. ^ a b c d Rifkin, Glenn (April 1, 1994). "Profile; Don't Ever Judge This Consultant by Her Cover". Retrieved 2017. 
  22. ^ "A bail-out for Romney?". The Economist. August 31, 2012. 
  23. ^ Sinclair, Emma (March 11, 2013). "Biz Idol: How a stint in the Army taught Orit Gadiesh lessons to lead Bain & Company". Retrieved 2017. 
  24. ^ a b c Jack Sweeney (February 2001). "Raising Bain". Consulting Magazine. Archived from the original on August 15, 2007. Retrieved 2012. 
  25. ^ a b F. Czerniawska (13 January 2016). Management Consultancy: What Next?. Palgrave Macmillan UK. p. 81. ISBN 978-1-4039-0718-9. 
  26. ^ a b c d "Consulting in the right direction". The Economist. Retrieved 2017. 
  27. ^ a b Stern, Stefan (June 24, 2010). "Management: Reinventing the Spiel". Retrieved 2017. Even in these bad economic times, the top three have also been increasingly working with governments around the world - in healthcare, for example, and helping to support struggling and restructuring industries (BCG has been an important adviser on the US automotive rescue). 
  28. ^ Mahanta, Vinod. "Steve eyes desi consulting pie". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2017. 
  29. ^ "Feeding off India's growth- Business News". Business Today. November 18, 2007. Retrieved 2017. 
  30. ^ "This year's best-rated CEO by employees is someone you've probably never heard of". Washington Post. June 8, 2016. Retrieved 2017. 
  31. ^ a b c d "Bain & Company WetFeet Insider Guide" (PDF). Wetfeet. 2005. Retrieved 2017. 
  32. ^ "History of innovation in management consulting". Bain & Company. Retrieved 2017. 
  33. ^ a b c d e Mariam, Naficy (October 6, 1997). The Fast Track: The Insider's Guide to Winning Jobs in Management Consulting, Investment Banking, & Securities Trading. Crown Business. ISBN 0767900405. 
  34. ^ Kranhold, Kathryn (July 10, 2006). "Client-Satisfaction Tool Takes Root". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2017. 
  35. ^ "To the brainy, the spoils". The Economist. May 11, 2013. Retrieved 2017. 
  36. ^ Weller, Chris; Jacobs, Sarah (December 8, 2016). "Bain & Company was just named the best workplace of 2017". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017. 
  37. ^ "Bain & Company". Consulting Magazine. August 8, 2013. Retrieved 2017. 

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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