Over a decade ago, I arrived fresh-eyed and bushy-tailed at L.E.K. Consulting in Boston, ready to tackle the big world of management consulting. I enjoyed the work immensely, learned incredible analytic skills, but one thing often weighed on my mind: Where are the women?
I left for business school, and was very fortunate to keep in contact with various leaders at L.E.K. Consulting as my career evolved after business school. As I navigated startups, e-commerce, and corporate strategy, I began to yearn for a culture that trained and celebrated excellence in analytics – a culture that L.E.K. celebrated. I got married, bought a home, acquired two cats. Then one day I made the call to L.E.K.: I’d like to be back. Returning to the New York office, I was amazed at how much had changed since I’d left. It was as if L.E.K. Consulting retained all that was great about the firm – the emphasis on analytics, on insights with impact, on working with the most executive team available among our clients – and recognized the strides it needed to make when it came to gender. The Women’s Network had just gotten established and I was able to meet several of the Boston managers who were spearheading the program nationally. The number of women represented in the upper ranks had also increased, with more female partners, principals, and managers than I’d ever seen before. Gender became a topic that people discussed, and both female and male staff were engaged in various activities, including our brown bags and social activities.
Not only that, the various work life policies we had in place meant that, even though I do not have family today, I could see a pathway to making it sustainably here. I have generously leveraged things like Out By Six (one day a week where the team leaves by 6PM) to meet up with friends for dinner or catch an event. I have used Me Time (a policy where you could leave during the work day for personal commitments, provided you get your work done otherwise) to travel so that I could make it to the airport and travel to friends’ weddings. I am also able to frequently work from home if I have home-related repairs (oh the joy of being a homeowner!) or if my cats get sick. I have also seen other staff at L.E.K. Consulting utilize things like Sabbatical or shifting temporarily to non-consulting roles to accommodate for that inevitable thing called life. I maintain a very active social life in New York, I have morning running buddies, I frequently host parties over the weekend at home, and none of this could have been possible without L.E.K. having made an active step towards making this job more sustainable.
A lot of people were very surprised at my 5th year business school reunion to find that I am back at L.E.K. Consulting. I often emphasize that L.E.K. is one of the most sustainable management consulting firms to work for given our low-travel model. I have found even more meaning in my work this second time around, and joy in working with the brilliant people in my office (including many talented women). I do not write this lightly, as I reflect on my career choices often. To make a decision to return was not easy given how so many people never go back to their first employer after school, but I believe that for where life is for me right now, it was the best career-related decision I could ever have made.