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Lucy Brady – The Boston Consulting Group: Reframing Mind-Sets Differentiates Careers

Lucy-BradyLucy Brady has worked part-time for 12 of her 18 years at The Boston Consulting Group (BCG). During this time, she was promoted to partner, raised three children, and discovered what balance could mean for her. Maintaining the right mind-set and a collaborative approach proved that a part-time path could work in her environment—and led to her current role as Senior Partner and Managing Director, Chicago. This exceptional mindset set her apart in her MBA journey and BCG career.

FROM CAUTIOUS OPTIMIST TO ROLE MODEL

Lucy was a new principal when her oldest child, now age 14, was born. Lucy’s love for her work—combined with fond memories of her mother staying home with her—inspired Lucy to pursue a 60% schedule, working three days each business week and staying home for two.

“After the first client experience, I was cautiously optimistic,” she said. Her upward feedback improved because her limited schedule led to opportunities for others, she more effectively managed time—and her clients reacted as if they were getting the “A-team” when they found out she worked part-time. “Being open to the fact that I wasn’t a failure if I couldn’t make something work was very liberating,” Lucy added.

Continued wins at work and flexibility at home convinced Lucy that the part-time schedule was feasible—and mutually beneficial. Even after she became partner, she worked an 80% schedule.

Keys to success included asking for what she needed, and thinking about her reduced schedule in the context of a year. Sometimes she had to flex her schedule—finding the days and hours that worked best each week—but over time, she could achieve her goal of keeping days of the work week completely focused on home.

Now that her children are older (her two youngest are ages 12 and 10), she’s back to a full-time schedule and serves as a role model for colleagues using BCG’s FlexTime program.

AWARD-WORTHY EARLY CAREER

Lucy’s smarts and positive attitude also made a mark early in her career. She graduated summa cum laude from University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s in economics. She then worked in real estate for Trammell Crow, consulting for Monitor Company, and brand management for General Mills. Before joining BCG, she earned an MBA from Stanford University, where she was named an Arjay Miller Scholar, a designation awarded to the academically highest 10% of a graduating MBA class.

In reflecting on her Stanford experience, she is just as proud of her nomination for the Arbuckle Award, which peers give to the student who had the greatest impact on the Stanford community outside of the classroom. Lucy loved what she was learning and her incredible relationships with classmates. She took full advantage of the range of opportunities outside the classroom rather than studying all the time. As a result, she considers her MBA experience a major highlight of her early adulthood.

MAKING A DIFFERENCE FOR CLIENTS & TEAMS

When Lucy joined BCG, she expected to stay for two years but found her “home.” She has worked with clients in retail and consumer products, and what she values most is her ability to make a difference. “When I invest time on something at BCG, I can see the results,” Lucy said.

Her job has three distinct parts: 1. client service to CEOs and Fortune 50 companies; 2. internal firm leadership, including spearheading recruiting for North America; and 3. people development, or working shoulder-to-shoulder with teams in an apprenticeship business.

Her game-changing career moment came as a new partner. BCG had done a limited amount of work for a consumer packaged goods client in Europe and wanted to grow the relationship elsewhere. Since the global headquarters was near her home, Lucy volunteered to help. For several years, she’d visit their offices every 4 to 6 months, leading to a small project with great results. At the end of the project, the company went through a transformation and BCG was invited to bid on the related work given the relationships she built and quality of the team’s work. “It turned into one of our largest clients,” she said. “It was a really strong moment in my career and taught me the value of persistence and teaming.”

Lucy has learned two big business lessons she shares with teams:

  1. Act like an owner. “Think about a client’s problem like it’s your business. What would you do differently? It’s not about checking the box—you’re trying to deliver great results.”
  2. Engage the skeptics. “A big part of getting people to think differently is understanding why they might not support something. If you are going to make change happen, you have to smoke out the pockets of resistance.”

SUPPORT & ADVICE FOR WOMEN

Lucy also has infectious enthusiasm about attracting women to BCG and helping them advance.

“Consulting is an amazing place for women,” she said. “The world is changing at a rapid pace, and we have a front row seat. We make an impact through the problems we address, ranging from the Ebola outbreak in Africa to deciphering what digital means for a business. It’s exciting and challenging.”

She’s among many executives supporting “Women@BCG,” which empowers women across the company to fulfill their potential. There are three key aspects of BCG’s commitment to women: 1. top leadership is invested; 2. the company develops innovative support programs; and 3. BCG actively monitors women’s initiative results.

Her advice for industry women is: “Pick your spots. Avoid spreading yourself too thin. Find a place where you can shine and enjoy what you’re doing.” When Lucy worked part-time, this meant being as present as possible at home or work, depending on her schedule that day. BCG has proved to be an environment in which she could pursue a career that is both professionally and personally fulfilling.

In her leisure time, one of Lucy’s favorite “spots” is sports. She’s an avid Stanford, Notre Dame, and Dallas Cowboys football fan. Her husband also shares a name with New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady, so she joked she also has to cheer for them.

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