Ahmed Boshnak on Bain's growth and culture in Saudi Arabia

03 November 2022 Consultancy-me.com 7 min. read

Global strategy consulting firm Bain & Company is continuing its growth in Saudi Arabia. To understand more about the firm’s growth and culture in the Kingdom, we spoke with Ahmed Boshnak, partner and leader of the Riyadh office.

Could you tell us briefly about your professional experience and areas of expertise as well as your current role at Bain & Company?

I’m currently in charge of leading Bain & Company’s growth in Saudi Arabia, by further expanding the company’s client base across the Saudi private and public sectors. I manage the operations of the Riyadh office, ensuring that we have the right on-the-ground resources to better serve our Saudi clients.

Before joining Bain & Company, I worked as Managing Director at Emaar, the Economic City (EEC), the master developer of King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC).

Ahmed Boshnak, Partner and Leader of Riyadh office, Bain & Company

I am also the founder of Cornerstone Ventures, a boutique advisory firm that provides strategy consulting, financial advisory, human capital development, and executive recruitment services to private and public companies across the Gulf Cooperation Council.

I initially joined Bain & Company’s office in Dubai as a consultant in 2010. Back then, my role was focused on advising clients in the private and public sectors on strategy development, performance improvement, and organizational governance.

What differentiates Bain from other competing consulting firms?

The culture makes all the difference. At Bain, we are guided by ‘True North’ and adhere to a set of core principles: cultivating a passion for results, adopting a practical approach, working as one global team, and supporting diversity. Our philosophy can be summed up in the motto “A Bainie never lets another Bainie fail”.

These principles create an extremely strong culture that allows new employees to naturally fit in if they are personally aligned with our culture. While we constantly strive to attract the most qualified talent, we give careful consideration to assessing whether new candidates share the firm’s core values.

Our principles also constitute the basis for how we serve our clients. Besides our great talent, global and local experience, and deep expertise, our services are sought-after because of how we tackle specific problems and issues. Bain’s approach to serving its clients lies in the idea of co-creation. We consider ourselves as an extension of our client’s teams and work essentially as partners to find appropriate, practical, and implementable solutions.

What can you tell us about Bain’s commitment to sustainability and environmental standards?

Our sustainability and responsibility consulting practice has allowed us to gain deep experience in this area. We intend to leverage our well-established expertise to help our stakeholders incorporate sustainability in their core strategies and translate their ambitious goals into practical, actionable, and fruitful projects.

At Bain, we believe in leading by example and have therefore remained deeply committed to maintaining environmental standards in everything we do. Over the past 11 years, we’ve managed to reduce our Scope 1 and 2 direct emissions by 84%, by converting to 100% renewable electricity, improving the energy efficiency of our offices, and finding innovative solutions for our operations.

This year, Bain announced an industry-leading move to achieve net-negative carbon status in 2022. The company will support nature-based projects to remove more than 100% of its 2021 scope 1, 2, and 3 carbon emissions, and aims at maintaining a net-negative status every year going forward.

Contrary to the carbon-neutral strategies adopted by other companies, our initiative aims specifically at supporting projects that remove carbon from the atmosphere, such as reforestation and direct carbon capture, instead of projects that seek only to avoid future emissions.

Additionally, we are offering an accelerated and specialised, post-graduate-level global ESG training program, to upskill all our consultants across the firm worldwide.

The Further Academy programme, in partnership with world class universities and business schools, including Imperial College Business School (London), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and HEC Paris, will equip each consultant to advise on ESG issues within their areas of expertise, ensure that an understanding of ESG risks and opportunities is at the heart of every client brief – and deliver on our firm’s own, ambitious sustainable development goals.

Further reading: Bain offers sustainability program to its teams.

What role is Bain playing in helping the Saudi government achieve its Vision 2030 ambitions?
Since the launch of Vision 2030, Bain has been effectively supporting the roles of several government agencies in achieving the vision’s goals, by formulating specific strategic priorities, initiatives, and programs. 

Today, we are working with business and government leaders on transformation programs across many sectors, including human capital development, enhanced sustainability, the creation of new industries, and other programs. In selecting which projects we support, we remain guided by the principle that they should prove beneficial to the Saudi society.

Our current role is particularly focused on helping clients in various sectors through actual pilots and execution programs, allowing them to achieve tangible results that add value.

How are you attracting key Saudi talent to join Bain’s Riyadh team?

For the past three years, Bain has been a strategic partner to the prestigious Misk fellowship program, which aims at identifying, developing, and accelerating globally-competitive young Saudi talent. Our support for this program includes providing mentorship and training programs for more than 150 Misk fellows and offering internships and full-time jobs for aspiring graduates.

We also support the annual Misk/UNDP SDG Innovation Competition program. This year, we ran in-person workshops at the program’s boot camp in London, where we mentored the teams that were developing their competition entries.

Newly-recruited employees take part in global in-person training programs, which bring in Bainies from all over the world, creating an extraordinarily diverse training experience.

What makes joining Bain such a unique experience for newcomers?

We’ve managed to create an incredibly inclusive culture, making it easier for new talents to feel like they belong. The apprenticeship model that Bain embraces includes assigning mentors and personal development advisers to those joining us, to create a strong sense of belonging and ensure that new talents are properly mentored.

We follow a diligent process to protect the social well-being of our staff and hold regular office and off-site events aimed at connecting our employees. Bain also takes great attention to safeguarding the health and wellness of Bainies, by making sure that a private counselor and resilience coach are always available if needed.

Our strong culture allows employees to build solid and long-lasting relationships with their coworkers and the company. Bain becomes part of their DNA.

I would end by saying that Bain ranks as one of the top companies to work for, and has won many global awards for its diverse, equal, and inclusive work environment. For young and ambitious talent, working at our firm represents an opportunity to meet like-minded and highly ambitious individuals, expand their skills, and advance their careers.