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My Experience with Bain

Posted by Larry Doyle on July 18, 2012 9:07 AM |

Bain Capital.

I can not recall in my lifetime as much attention being paid to a private company during a Presidential campaign as that paid to Bain Capital this year.

While I could write more on the scandalous activity surrounding Libor or money laundering activity emanating from HSBC, I digress today to address my experience with Bain. Interestingly enough, my experience did not occur during my days on Wall Street. Bain Capital did not have any business within the market segments that I worked while on Wall Street.

Long before summer internships came into vogue, I was fortunate to gain a referral and in turn a position as a personal assistant to a senior partner at Bain and Company, the entity from which Bain Capital spun out. The experience I had prior to my senior year at Holy Cross in summer 1982 had a profound and long lasting impact on my professional career. How so? 

In the midst of my work for this executive and extensive conversations with this executive I learned so many lessons. I remain indebted to him.

What did he impress upon me as he critiqued my resume and offered me insights on interviewing and business?

1. Accentuate competitiveness.
2. Pursue excellence.
3. Prepare exceptionally hard for the GMATs (business boards) and score as high as possible.
4. Learn about risk and embrace it prudently.
5. The pursuit of profit is exceptionally important but should never overrule the value of principle. Always play by the rules.
6. Character and reputation are everything in business.
7. Comport yourself with class and professionalism at all times.
8. Success has no ceiling.

I have never ventured to Bain and Company’s website until this morning. In quickly scanning their site, I see an emphasis on People, Passion, Results, and Innovation. Thirty years hence I would venture that the business lessons and values taught to me continue to be embraced by this company.

I think fondly to that summer. Throughout my career on Wall Street, I tried to practice much of the entrepreneurial spirit and competitive drive that was impressed upon me by that Bain executive. In an attempt to share his invaluable lessons, I incorporated much of his wisdom into my Career Planning link here at Sense on Cents.  I hope others, especially students, may benefit.

Might America benefit from the lessons this Bain executive taught me? I will let people draw their own conclusions.

Larry Doyle 

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I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. The opinions expressed are my own. I am a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

  • coe

    The intense focus by the President, Perry and the media around Romney’s past successes at Bain seem to be another sign of how we are going wrong. I guess it is a better idea to spend time as a “community organizer” than working in the private sector. And God forbid someone actually makes money as opposed to living on the public dole, and believing as the smartest man in the room that government is the answer to all of our issues.

    I believe you happened to be fortunate in your personal experience, LD….too often, many interns, students with summer jobs are left to fend for themselves and do not get the positive mentoring that you were graced with. I think the lessons you have outlined are good ones.

    Romney need not apologize for his private side success. The demonization of Bain is yet another symptom that we are in trouble.

  • Heresy

    Working for a successful private enterprise which creates wealth! Blasphemy! The only path to purity, enlightenment and nobel pursuits is working for the government and retiring after 20years with a overly-generous pension on your fellow citizens dime. Private enterprise, please, so 20th century.

  • fred

    LD,

    Great post. I have 2 children moving through/into high school and a 3rd not far behind. My oldest, a junior this year, is doing an internship on a U.S. Congressional campaign this summer, my 2nd will be a freshman. I have already reviewed your link to Ms. Hurley’s post in the Career Planning area of Sense on Cents.

    Questions to elicit your personal ideas,

    1) What types of internships do you recommend pursuing?

    2) As a general rule, should one focus on their areas of strength/interest or take a more general well rounded approach?

    3) How can one maximize what they get out of an internship? ie. mentorship, preperation, responsibilities, weekends/school breaks during school year, etc.

    4) How can one uncover quality internship opportunities and when should they start looking? ie. age/grade, time of year, etc.

    • LD

      Fred,

      1. In regard to what internships should students pursue? At that stage of their life, with lots to learn and little really at risk, I think students should shoot for the moon or reach for the stars, so to speak. What is a dream industry or dream pursuit and go for it. If they can land an internship in that field, then all for the better.

      2. I do believe students need to develop the ability to think cogently and communicate effectively. To this end, reading voraciously and writing extensively are recommended. The ability to engage in analytical pursuits and make a strong case or argument will NEVER go out of style. Given that every job is ultimately some form of sales, people need to learn how to ‘make the case’.

      3. I am a huge proponent of finding a mentor or mentors and developing a regular rapport with them. Get some advice from them and then follow it. Also, continue to read about what is going on in the world. Being aware of one’s surroundings is critically important. Develop strong disciplines and then practice them.

      4. Internships are often a function of relationships. Go about developing a rapport with people in the neighborhood, parish, community, schools, clubs…express an interest in learning more about their business and industry, read up on it, ask for a brief office visit as a shadowing experience, then go from there. I believe this process is ultimately a game of percentages and being in the right place at the right time. Increase your chances by “running in the traffic.”

      Kids can still be kids but the disciplines of reading, writing, thinking, communicating, dreaming outside the box can be developed during high school so that kids can then move quickly into the next stage of execution early during their college years.

      I am a big believer that people should DREAM and THINK BIG. Embrace life and all it has to offer.

      There is a LOT of work here but it is a PROCESS.

      All the best to your kids. Tell them also to listen to Dad. He knows a LOT.

      • fred

        LD,

        Glad I asked. There’s alot of great advice and incite in your response. I will share it with my family.

        Thanks.

  • Peter S.

    I’m still waiting for my former Governor to comment on the financial crisis as it pertains to the players. In the last decade, the vast majority of Americans have been robbed by a Wall Street/ Washington Incest that dwarfs all that we had suspected. Our economy has ground to a halt – yet financial corporate coffers are bulging with unspent cash – much of which, we now know, is unjust enrichment. With the Governor’s extensive experience in the financial sector, I am stunned that he is not standing on a soap box publically lambasting the gluttony of Wall Street and the bagmen in D.C.

    Where is his loathing for the bad boys in his former industry?

    What are his concerns with regulatory reforms?

    What regulatory reforms would he nix, what reforms would he bolster?

    Does the governor support Main Street’s contention that those who have robbed us in the dark of night should be bedding down at Riker’s, not Club Fed?

    It is my belief that voting against only perptuates voting against.

    How will the governor bring the desperately need concensous to Washington that has to occur if we are to stand a chance?

    LD, if you can enlighten me as to how the governor will clean up the cesspool on lower Manhattan, it would be appreciated.

    My concern is they all are just going to get a “do over” – again.

    Put some meat on the bones.

    • LD

      Peter,

      I am waiting for any politician, including both individuals running for President, to address these points.

      I think we will both be waiting a LONG time. I think we will have to take the fight to them . . . and rest assured, we will do just that.

      • Peter S.

        That’s the ticket. It’s one of the reasons I have gravitated to Sense on Cents – I love a good fight, even though we sometimes are on opposing sides.

  • Get Real

    Piss off a Liberal……..Work Hard and Be Happy!

  • Mark

    Very helpful to hear your perspective, Larry, but I come away wondering why you did not name the executive. Seems odd to me and leaves open this question to my many imaginative interpretations! Tell us who it was or tell us why you omitted this info, please.

    • LD

      Mark,

      I did not name the individual for the very simple reason that he is a private citizen. I am assuming he is now retired although when looking him up online it appears he still has some private business interests. Those points are meaningless to my commentary.

      If he were in the public domain or a public citizen I would name him but he is not and thus he is entitled to his privacy.

      I will share that at the time when I worked for him he was one of the top partners in the company.

      Nothing is to be gained by adding his name. I am guessing you have an active imagination but please trust me the name of this individual adds nothing to the lessons he imparted upon me.

      • Peter S.

        LD, many of us got the pep talk that left us thinking we could walk on water – soon after we’re asked to drink the cool-aid; the dilution rate varied in many firms. We’ve seen enough videos in the media of jailed financial executives previously promoting their philosophy on principle. I think that’s Mark’s point, though nothing nefarious about choosing not to name the executive.

        • LD

          Peter,

          The individual whom I reference had a very distinguished and honorable career. He was one of Bain’s top 3 executives for an extended period. In regard to Bain in general, based purely on my business experience I have only known the firm to be held in the highest regard.

          I would guess that somebody at Bain at some point must have done something less than honorable but I certainly am not aware of it.

          • Peter S.

            LD, I never doubt the personal experiences you share on Sense on Cents.

  • AN

    This write up (as opposed to your other articles) was completely empty rhetoric. As posted by others above, these “principled ethical behavior etc.” chat is all talk with no substance. I have seen a different side of Bain and it is downright ugly and amoral, but on paper legal. Again, I cant blame Bain completely as it is Congress that writes laws that favor big players like Bain who also lobby and dole out campaign cash. If you are a strong Romney supporter come out and say it. Why be so indirect? Personally, I have lost faith in both parties in general(except a few people) and the banks, insurance firms and most of the large corporations. The only saving grace is that my life is likely to end early due to a major illness.

    • LD

      First off, I am sorry to hear about your personal condition and wish you all the best on that front.

      Empty rhetoric?

      How would you know what I experienced when I was 21 years of age and the impact it had on my life? I am not saying that every person would have the same experience BUT you can not discount my experience as empty rhetoric because you were not with me on those days.

      Indirect? No, I think I am being very direct in highlighting my very personal experience with one very senior Bain partner, not Mitt Romney.

      I stand by each and every word.

      I fully accept your experience and assume it is factual.






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