(附中文) When I received the offer from BCG in 2013, HR said: “You will be able to study in Harvard as many BCGer did!” In 2016, when I received Harvard’s offer for MBA program, I thought of what she said. Looking back to the past three years, I really appreciate all the things I learned at BCG – the most valuable lesson is courage.
Embrace the unknown with courage
When I first joined BCG, I was nervous about the intense business travels and new, unfamiliar projects. Oftentimes, every airport landing meant an entirely new client company, and I had to keep myself up to speed right away. After conducting countless interviews, market studies and town hall meetings, I learned to retain as much flexibility as possible to cope with uncertainties. I remember once when a client’s flight was seriously delayed, and I was left with only a couple of hours to prep for and preside over a project launch meeting. For another project, I led consumer interviews across several regions in China, and all the interviewees had different accents and various cultural norms. Despite that, I had to adapt quickly and report to client’s regional leadership right after the interviews. As I gained more experience, the concerns and anxieties I had over uncertainties have gradually given way to composure. I have grown to be more capable of embracing challenges with an open mind.
Recognize my shortcomings with courage
In consulting, we are faced with direct feedback from clients and from team members every single day. Throughout the project, there are formal and informal sessions where you are informed of your areas for improvement. On top of that, there is the career development committee. For many of us who were not used to facing up to problems and inspections, it was a lot of pressure. However, in a profession where fast growth is expected, you are most unlikely to get a foothold on the shoal before the next waves swarm in if you fail to recognize to your problems and rectify them at the first opportunity available. As much as we wanted to be seen as perfect and capable by our employers, given the tight timeline of our projects, you need to quickly weigh out the capability gap, seek support from team and learn from their experience in order to work together towards value creation.
Express myself with courage
In my first year with BCG, my PL pulled me aside after one meeting and asked, “You didn’t speak up at the meeting. What’s wrong? Did you not understand what we were discussing, or you didn’t know how to express your views?” It was a wake-up call for me. I was used to listening to persons of authority, staying in the comfort zone and waiting for instructions to be given by leaders. However, as far as teamwork is concerned, every member’s contribution counts. BCG attaches much importance to our ability to think independently and express our views. Since that day, I started to practice voicing my opinions and taking new initiatives. For instance, when I was involved in the study of Seoul Metropolitan Circle, I spent extra hours arranging for field studies, hiring interpreters and seeking necessary resources, and successfully brought back valuable materials, including an interview with former CEO of Hyundai Engineering Co. In retrospect, I started off not wanting to be slighted, but I ended up enjoying expressing myself at work—the whole journey of personal growth is much like a powerful boost to my self-confidence and I am so gratified.
Going forward, I am well poised to solider on carrying with me these valuable fruits I’ve garnered in BCG—and embrace my next adventures!
Note: special thanks for Ivy Wu and Jenny Chen for the translation!