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"By investing in diversity, equity, and inclusion; employee well-being; learning and development; and safety and security, we empower our people and, as a result, deliver value to our clients." BCG, Our People and Culture.
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Boston Consulting Group (BCG), founded in 1963, has persistently thrived and expanded over the decades, becoming a key player in the international consulting market.
This success story is tightly woven with their people-centric philosophy.
An unwavering emphasis on continuous learning is at the core of BCG's culture.
BCG is a place where intellectual curiosity is encouraged, where employees are constantly challenged to develop new skills, broaden their horizons, and push beyond the conventional boundaries of thought.
In the bustling world of global management consulting, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) carves a niche with a work culture that epitomizes continuous learning, career growth, flexibility, and innovation.
In this case study, we'll take a comprehensive look at BCG's philosophy and methods for learning and development.
We will dissect the numerous L&D strategies and programs that BCG has established to ensure their employees remain at the forefront of technological trends and advancements.
Plus, we will explore how these initiatives have catalyzed personal and organizational triumphs with multiple insights from former and current BCG employees.
These insights can be a beacon for HR professionals striving to cultivate a positive and dynamic people development culture.
BCG is demonstrating that the focus of people processes isn't merely about achieving business objectives. It's also about nurturing employees, helping them grow, and forming deeper, more meaningful connections.
They encourage a culture of continuous learning and improvement, recognizing and celebrating achievements, and strongly emphasize mentorship and inclusivity.
"We invest deeply in our people through training, mentorship, and a culture of apprenticeship—engaging recruits from day one, accelerating their personal growth, and providing them with the opportunity to find their own paths. This is deeply embedded in our culture at all levels." Rich Lesser, Global Chair at Boston Consulting Group, Purpose at BCG: How We Grow by Growing Others.
BCG cultivates a culture of innovation, encouraging its people to:
But more interestingly, BCG promotes mutual growth and ownership.
"Guided by the belief that we ourselves grow by growing others, we operate as a school for talent to shape the leaders, thinkers, and entrepreneurs of tomorrow." BCG, Our Commitments.
This value is deeply ingrained in how leaders approach their team's growth and how peers routinely share knowledge.
Reflecting on BCG's principle of growing while growing others, Sharon Marcil, Senior partner and Client Team Chair at BCG, defines success as a shared achievement rather than a personal triumph:
"It's personally rewarding to support and mentor people and also to cheer for them as they succeed. And it's professionally rewarding because, as these people find momentum, they bring success back to the firm—building new capabilities and partnering with clients in ways others hadn't, establishing relationships and serving clients that we wouldn't necessarily have served if these partners hadn't been elected." quoted in Purpose at BCG: How We Grow by Growing Others.
Recognizing achievements and encouraging continuous effort creates a sense of belonging, a workplace where every effort is appreciated, and every achievement is applauded.
"BCG is willing to invest in its people and provide continuous learning and development to nurture leadership. [...] BCG has given me a lot of opportunities and skills that I would not have learned elsewhere. One of the biggest ways that BCG contributed to my personal development is in leading and working with others. Those who start on the consulting track will become managers within a couple of years. I had to quickly pick up skills, such as giving feedback and managing people, which helped to accelerate my career. Everything I've learned I have applied to different roles, both inside and outside of BCG, and I'm still constantly learning." Don Haney, Global Learning & Development Learning Journey, Senior Manager, BCG Atlanta.
Sharon Marcil also stresses the key role of a manager as a coach that personally invests in their people and shares specific feedback, enabling them to learn more and become better:
"You keep giving them [i.e. your people] feedback. That way, they are always learning more—and doing better work for the client. [...] As you get to know them better, you're able to give them the kind of feedback that they can really internalize and grow from. And you learn the best ways to celebrate them, reward them—and motivate them, as well."
Constant improvement, better service, greater satisfaction, and personal growth are all possible with effective feedback guiding your people.
But as Sharon notes, feedback is not a one-size-fits-all situation.
By understanding each team member's strengths, weaknesses, and motivations, you're crafting a tailor-made growth recipe for each individual. This personalized feedback can foster true self-improvement, one that's based on mutual trust and understanding.
Plus, recognizing the modern workforce's evolving needs, the firm actively promotes flexibility, ensuring a healthy work-life balance for its employees.
These attributes form the DNA of BCG, proving magnetic for top-tier talent and offering the firm a significant competitive advantage.
BCG's culture of flexibility and innovation further strengthens its position as an employer of choice.
"BCG is a company that always prioritizes learning, which is one of the things I love about working here." Gift Udomchai Pattanakit, an Asia Pacific Regional Consulting L&D Coordinator, Promoting Professional Development at BCG.
L&D at BCG is characterized by collaboration, continuous improvement, and a strong focus on personal and professional growth.
In a nutshell, BCG's L&D strategy is robust and well-structured, providing employees with frequent feedback and definitive development plans while rewarding their growth and performance.
However, it requires significant commitment and effort from employees and managers.
This investment ensures that BCG employees continually evolve, improve their skills, and thus contribute to BCG's standing as a leading consulting firm.
At Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the journey to success is as unique as the individuals who embark upon it. This commitment to individual development is deeply embedded in BCG's ethos and is reflected at all levels of the organization.
The firm strongly emphasizes continuous growth, nurturing a rich ecosystem of opportunities for every member to shine.
"Unlike at many corporations where one person gets the senior-level job and the others don't—with finite slots at the top—at BCG, we have tremendous opportunities to find new sources of value creation for our clients and growth opportunities for our people. We're able to embrace great people and help them through the phases of their career. In so doing, the firm becomes not just bigger but much better, and each individual stays on a steep personal learning curve." Rich Lesser, Global Chair at Boston Consulting Group, Purpose at BCG: How We Grow by Growing Others.
BCG's Learning and Development policy is far from a one-size-fits-all approach.
Instead, it opens up an array of paths, allowing team members to write their unique growth stories and redefine what success looks like. BCG is not just about growth—it's about personal and meaningful growth, propelling its people on an ever-evolving steep learning curve.
"BCG has always supported my growth. A manager once told me that my trajectory at BCG has been very 'colorful,' and I think that's exactly right. I have never really done things by the book. I didn't have a plan for my career. I have always just tried to follow my interests.
I think that's a perfect example of how BCG supports you. They have some more concrete, linear paths that you can follow, but you can also create your own path through internal mobility options. I think that's probably very useful for people who want to join BCG to know that. You don't have to follow the same track as everyone.
Looking at where I started and comparing it with what I'm doing now—it's completely different." Lluch Garcia, Topic Manager, BCG Munich.
"Along with your technical and domain-level knowledge, you get to grow professionally as part of BCG. BCG focusses on the overall growth and development of an individual." A current employee with 3+ years of experience at BCG in a Glassdoor review.
Employees at BCG work on a project base. But even with changing projects and customers, growth and development remain a pillar of their work.
At the outset of every project, the employee defines a growth agreement with their direct supervisor. This agreement covers:
Once the project starts, the employee benefits from biweekly feedback and coaching sessions with their direct manager. And an additional round of meetings every 6-8 with the Managing Director.
These talks guide the employee with feedback and advice and help calibrate expectations according to the employee's progress.
Once the project is complete, the employee receives a comprehensive review from the direct manager with input and sign-off from the Managing director.
This review covers key areas such as:
These reviews are instrumental for the Career development committee meetings.
Career Development Committee (CDC) meetings occur twice a year, where a career development advisor collects the reviews that employees get at the end of their projects, holds discussions with colleagues who have worked with the individual, and reviews employee self-assessments.
The advisor then writes a briefing and presents it to the CDC, making decisions regarding the overall performance, growth rating, and promotions.
The promotion timing is discussed explicitly, offering four options ranging from being on track to promotion to no path forward with immediate counseling.
So we can clearly see that career development isn't left to chance at BCG. This rigorous process ensures a holistic understanding of the employee's performance and potential, informing decisions about promotions and future development trajectories.
Training and development at BCG go beyond the traditional approach of compulsory training programs.
Instead, it is rooted in the belief that individual growth is best achieved through ownership of one's learning journey.
"At BCG, we don't force people to take part in our programs. That is why engagement is important – we show employees how to own their learning journeys. We offer them a platform that makes learning enjoyable and has a real impact on their careers. Learning is one of the most critical parts of life at BCG and every employee is encouraged to regularly upskill themselves for a brighter future. [...] The most important thing to know is that growth comes by growing others and we welcome you to grow with us." Arpit Johri, Global Learning and Development (L&D) Senior Coordinator, BCG New Dehli.
BCG offers access to a comprehensive online catalog of training content to personalize the employee learning journey.
These include a wide array of subjects, from exposure to tech products to leadership development.
Employees can choose the modules that best suit their learning needs and career aspirations. This flexibility and personalization make BCG's L&D program unique and highly effective.
"We defined the e-learning vision and strategy for BCG, devised the user experience and interface, established the infrastructure and platform, designed learning curricula for different cohorts with high-quality content developed across various topics, drove change and communication across the firm, planned metrics dashboard to measure success—and most important, we continuously enhance LAB [i.e. BCG's distant learning platform] content and features for better learning experiences." Cynthia Hui, Global L&D Learning Experience Senior Manager, BCG Taipei.
Cynthia's insights illustrate the meticulousness with which BCG's L&D program has been devised, ensuring the highest quality of learning experiences for all cohorts.
Gift Udomchai Pattanakit, an Asia Pacific Regional Consulting L&D Coordinator, echoes this sentiment, reinforcing that L&D at BCG is not just about the logistics but also about fostering relationships and creating immersive learning experiences. This exemplifies the passion and dedication that the L&D team brings to their roles, ensuring that the program is more than just an array of courses but a dynamic journey of continuous improvement:
"Every day, we are working on improving learning experiences and creating new training. L&D is not just about logistics. I would describe what I do as paying attention to not only the content but also building relationships." Promoting Professional Development at BCG.
The commitment to improving capabilities can be likened to a seasoned chef improving a restaurant's performance, as beautifully analogized by Barbara Thompson, Learning Innovation Manager at BCG London. Just as a chef observes, interacts, and finds ways to enhance the restaurant, the L&D team at BCG assesses, innovates, and improves learning experiences:
"Often, Learning and Development is a business function that isn't broadly understood by the public. In a way, I see my role like the role of someone like Gordon Ramsay. He has a TV program where he visits restaurants looking to improve their performance, and he seeks to understand what is going on by observing the restaurant in full flight with all the customers there. He then goes in to speak with all of the restaurant staff and comes up with ways to improve their capabilities or services." Barbara Thompson, Learning Innovation Manager, Boston Consulting Group, London, UK, Promoting Professional Development at BCG.
All of these insights from the L&D team members across the globe are a testament to BCG's commitment to its people: Everyone has the freedom to shape their own learning journey.
At Boston Consulting Group (BCG), an essential part of the learning and development (L&D) philosophy lies not just in individual learning paths but also in the culture of mentorship and knowledge-sharing that permeates all levels of the organization.
"As I spend more time here (i.e. at BCG), I learned that hierarchy doesn't really exist. You can talk to anybody and are encouraged to share your thoughts and ideas. People at BCG are always happy to support you on your journey." Arpit Johri, Global Learning and Development (L&D) Senior Coordinator, BCG New Dehli.
This openness to communication and collaboration creates an environment where people can exchange ideas freely and support is readily available.
"I frequently hear stories like this in my travels: a consultant turns to a colleague for help with a type of analysis he's unfamiliar with. The colleague sets aside two to three hours to work it through, even though it's not her case or team. 'I don't expect anything back,' I hear people say. 'Others do the same for me. That's just how it works here." Rich Lesser, Global Chair at Boston Consulting Group, Purpose at BCG: How We Grow by Growing Others.
These stories reflect the ethos of mutual aid at the heart of BCG's culture.
Moreover, this spirit of collaboration and mentorship is not just empty rhetoric—it is actively lived and embodied by BCG's team members.
As an example, Ernest Saudjana, Managing Director & Partner, BCG Indonesia., recounts his early experience with the firm's mentorship culture:
"My project leader in my first case gave me a practical tutorial on how to build a model, and I would say that was the most effective 'classroom training' I've ever gotten. It was my first exposure to the strong mentorship culture within the firm. People I consider my mentors have always been there to help me think about how I can push my potential further and share their own experiences. That support has made a lasting impression, and I aim to also do the same with my team and mentees."
For Lea Poquerusse, former Project Leader at BCG Paris, the firm's buddy program, coupling fresh recruits with experienced mentors, has played an instrumental role in her career development. She sheds light on her experiences at BCG in a candid YouTube video, reflecting on her journey at BCG: an exploration, each day offering new opportunities to delve deeper and broader into her field of work.
These testimonials demonstrate that learning and development extend beyond individual efforts at BCG. They are facilitated by an ecosystem that encourages knowledge sharing, mentorship, and continuous support.
At its core, BCG's L&D policy is deeply intertwined with its culture of collaboration and mutual growth, fostering an environment where every team member is invested in each other's success.
BCG ensures that associates who want to take a business graduate degree receive the necessary support from the company, including supporting their application process and reimbursing their tuition fees. The average tuition reimbursement corresponds to $17,386 per year.
Once their education is over, the employees can return to BCG as consultants.
A remarkable 91% of BCG applicants receive admission into business schools!
The rewards for those promising to return to BCG after their graduate studies are substantial: BCG covers two years' full tuition and living expenses, roughly $129,000 per person.
"The Return to BCG program for high-performing alumnae provides formal support and structure for women who have left the consulting track and wish to return to the BCG community to help solve our clients' most complex problems." Matt Krentz, Senior Partner & Managing Director, Global People Chair, BCG Chicago in Return to BCG Program: Supporting high-performing alumnae in their return to BCG.
BCG has launched a global Return to BCG program designed to support high-performing female alumnae as they reintegrate into the firm's dynamic work environment.
The program aims to make the return journey viable, sustainable, and fulfilling.
The critical offering combines a familiar yet evolving work environment, a globally implemented predictability and flexibility model, and customized reintegration plans.
The Return to BCG program ensures that each returning alumna can customize her re-entry according to her past experiences, current needs, and future career aspirations.
This is made possible through various guiding pillars of the program, including formal and informal sponsorship and mentorship, personalized learning and development plans, one-on-one executive coaching, Career Development Committee (CDC) advising support, and connection with peer cohorts and practice area members.
This program's success is not just theoretical; several returning alumnae have shared their positive experiences. They praised BCG's commitment to career flexibility, the firm's support in enabling their successful reintegration, and the value their time away from BCG added when they returned.
Let's look at a few experiences from the returning alumnae 👇
"Before returning, I shared my concerns about returning as a project leader in a country I was still getting to know, with two partners in the Sydney office. They were a great support. I was assigned a buddy project leader who gave me valuable insights into my new position. I also started at the same time as a batch of new hires and was able to meet a lot of new colleagues at once." Shira Raber, Project Leader, BCG Sydney (former Project leader in Amsterdam, returned after three years) in Return to BCG Program: Supporting high-performing alumnae in their return to BCG.
"BCG is highly committed to finding ways to make a career with the firm possible for everyone. This was a key factor in my return. BCG has given me fantastic support through the managing partner for Australia and New Zealand, practice area partners, my business partner, my career development advisor, and my case teams." Wendy MacKay, Principal focusing on financial services and real estate, BCG Sydney (former Project leader, returned after nine years) in Return to BCG Program: Supporting high-performing alumnae in their return to BCG.
Recognizing the importance of global exposure, BCG has introduced numerous programs like the Ambassador Program for consultants aspiring for international experience.
Through the Ambassador Program, second or third-year consultants are chosen to work in a BCG office overseas for a year.
This is in addition to other global mobility options and informal opportunities to work on international projects across various offices.
A 23-year veteran at BCG, Christine Barton, Senior Partner and Managing Director at BCG Dallas, praises the firm's flexibility and diverse career paths.
She reminisces about his unique journey, working across numerous countries and offices, taking well-deserved breaks, and being empowered to chase her passions.
"Over my 18 years at BCG, I've been in two countries. I've been across four offices. I did that before there was a thing branded 'Mobility.' I have been part-time before there was a thing branded 'Flex time.' I've taken multiple leaves of absence before there was a thing branded "Time for You.' I teamed extensively across local offices before that was a common thing to do."
These groups serve as vibrant forums where employees can connect, share experiences, and learn from each other.
They also play a critical role in promoting organizational diversity and inclusion.
By supporting these groups, BCG emphasizes its commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace where everyone feels valued and can contribute to their fullest potential.
1. Upskilling is no longer a nice-to-have policy in today's ever-evolving business world. It is a must-have.
"In my current role, I lead international teams to upskill our worldwide consulting staff, helping them acquire new skills and be well prepared for this disruptive digital age. I really enjoy this role as I can combine my passion in learning and people, and I feel like I am living one of BCG's purposes - grow by growing others, everyday!" Cynthia Hui, Global L&D Learning Experience Senior Manager, BCG Taipei.
2. Teams are stronger when each individual contributor is stronger. Empowering each individual will ultimately lead to the growth of the company.
BCG shows dedication to employee development and well-being by Unlocking its multidisciplinary teams' potential, fostering open communication, and bolstering psychological safety.
3. Employee growth happens in environments that foster psychological safety, ownership, and camaraderie.
"One of the aspects that I love most about working at BCG, and in the L&D area specifically, is that we are collaborative. Candidates looking for very collegial environments and to leverage their unique skillset on a team of varying skillsets are a great fit. [...] We all come together to share ideas and identify which are the best. While the environment is prestigious, the community at BCG is also supportive. I never feel vulnerable talking about weaknesses or struggles that I am having. There is a lot of psychological safety that I feel on my team, and I am comforted by people willing to offer helping hands. This sense of community makes me feel valued, and I know I belong at BCG." Frieda Hsu, an Asia Pacific Consulting L&D Manager, Promoting Professional Development at BCG.
What really makes BCG stand out is the psychological safety that's fostered within its teams.
It's a place where employees can openly discuss weaknesses or struggles.
And let's be honest. We all have our off days. To be in an environment where one's not just allowed but actively encouraged to express challenges to reach out when needing help—now, that's a culture to aspire to build.
4. You cannot stay on top of your industry if you cannot innovate. You cannot innovate if you don't have a growth mindset and a culture encouraging you to surpass your limits.
5. BCG infuses their people policies with the company values. It's their way of walking the talk.
At the core of BCG's success as a market leader lies a robust culture that revolves around well-defined and frequently communicated values.
They place utmost importance on upholding the highest standards of ethics, business conduct, and company principles.
Every organization member is expected to embrace and adhere to these standards, ensuring they are ingrained in everything they do.
Maintaining this strong culture fosters an environment of integrity, accountability, and excellence, which sets them apart in the industry.
6. BCG understands the invaluable resource that is a diverse workforce. The firm is committed to attracting and retaining top-tier talent from various backgrounds, mirroring the world's diversity kaleidoscope.
This diverse talent pool stimulates innovative thinking and fresh perspectives, acting as a catalyst for BCG's comprehensive L&D strategy.
"We aim to be the employer of choice by offering an unparalleled employee experience and by creating an environment that allows our people to thrive personally and professionally. Our mission is to unlock the potential of diversity, equity, and inclusion at BCG. We know that diverse teams with inclusive and equitable work practices strengthen our organization, allowing us to better support our clients and advance justice, dignity, and belonging." BCG, Our Commitments.
7. Empowering your people is the true source of exceptional client value.
BCG believes investing in these key areas enables their teams to survive and thrive!
This thriving workforce, empowered by a robust L&D strategy, ultimately delivers exceptional value to their clients.
"When you work alongside the most talented people in the world with top-rate resources on phenomenal projects, growth inevitably happens." Judy Oh, Director of Strategy, BCG BrightHouse Georgia.
The BCG Learning and Development (L&D) program distinguishes itself by fostering an environment encouraging continual growth, community support, and global access to learning resources.
The program highlights BCG's commitment to its employees by offering a wide range of opportunities, from employee resource groups to personalized online training modules.
Furthermore, it supports continued education, promotes a healthy lifestyle, and incentivizes employees with attractive perks and recognition.
These aspects underscore BCG's dedication to its employees' professional advancement and contribute to a diverse, inclusive, and thriving workplace culture.
Zavvy lets you run a people development process like BCG.
The process is simple. Here is a step-by-step breakdown.
At BCG, the L&D team is extremely deliberate about employee development, so they have a dedicated Career Development Committee and Advisor that speak to employees, observe them closely, and create a path for continued success.
This process can be replicated with Zavvy's "Career Paths" feature.
Based on employee competency, you can create a definitive and unique career path for each.
Step 1: Create career frameworks for each department. E.g., Sales Team, Customer Success Team, etc. You can use our database of 135 competencies for 10 departments as a starting point.
Step 2: Add career paths. Create descriptions and leveling for each role within each department in your organization. E.g. Junior, Intermediate, Senior.
Step 3: Define roles and competencies. When defining the competencies, let your managers and HR team have an equal weigh-in. You can also consider consulting your top performers.
Bonus: You can now ask Zavvy AI to help define competencies across levels. Yes, it is that simple.
Step 4: Assign career paths
Involve the manager in reviewing career paths and assigning them to each team member.
Select the "Assign employees" button to allocate a career path on the specific role level.
Once assigned, the individual will receive an email notification and can access their career path on their Zavvy home dashboard.
Zavvy's training solution offers the opportunity to create personalized and engaging learning paths for employees, similar to BCG's comprehensive online training catalog.
You can design unique employee journeys using various building blocks such as content, messages, surveys, quizzes, tasks, and group activities.
You can create your learning journeys and add them to the library for your employees.
Then, you can assign Zavvy journeys to employees, allow your people to self-enroll, or do both.
Zavvy also provides access to a vast gallery of curated training resources. When curating the content, they considered the best providers in the world, the most in-demand competencies for the evolving job market, and course ratings.
You can pick and choose from 10.000+ curated training resources.
Your company can enable both free and paid resources on Zavvy.
For paid resources, simply use Zavvy's budgeting and approval workflows.
To request a paid resource, learners must go to the library and find a course they like. Then, they click "Request" and select a price.
Once requested, admins will receive a notification about the request. This way, you can utilize your L&D budget to allow employees to choose their unique learning path.
People that self-enroll get the same experience as anyone that you assign. The only difference is that the journey will start the day they self-enroll. 😊
At BCG, manager feedback is thorough and shapes employee growth and performance.
You can still replicate the thoroughness of this type of manager and employee interaction with Zavvy's 1:1 check-ins.
Managers and their team members can engage in meaningful discussions about goals, aspirations, and the paths to achieve them.
Zavvy simplifies setting up recurring check-ins by allowing managers to customize the frequency, day, and agenda for their 1:1 meetings.
Zavvy also sends automated reminders to all participants, ensuring timely and consistent communication.
The check-in forms can be personalized with questions about recent achievements, priorities for the next week, and aspirations for the upcoming months.
This streamlined approach facilitates effective and structured conversations between managers and their team members.
In today's remote and flexible work environments, it is essential to establish effective employee development programs that cater to individual needs and adapt to evolving work requirements.
Zavvy facilitates comprehensive people growth by giving managers real-time insights into their employees' development needs and identifying training opportunities to bridge competency gaps.
Leveraging Zavvy's AI capabilities, strategic processes can be initiated effortlessly.
No other solution offers the same speed and impact when connecting skills, competencies, feedback, and overall growth.
📅 Book a demo today to experience how Zavvy can unlock a 360° growth system for your employees.