How I changed my career from a nuclear engineer in the Navy to a consultant at Bain

Benj Holladay decided on an MBA at Emory Goizueta to utilize the problem-solving skills he had honed as an engineer while making the move to a coveted career as a consultant.

Consulting is a popular destination for MBA students. With the promise of high salary gains, career advancement, and exciting potential specializations, it’s clear why, according to a GMAC survey, 47% of graduate MBA students aspire to the industry.

Emory Goizueta’s two-year MBA program, with its curriculum and effective network with large consulting firms, helped Benj achieve his goals of changing careers and entering the popular industry.


0ef9df4305dc68063144630fa48e0c73ab77fc93.jpg


Transferable skills for an MBA

Benj worked as a nuclear engineer in the Navy for five years before deciding to use his problem-solving skills to change his career to consulting.

“I was thinking about what I wanted to do long-term, and I wanted to keep that problem-solving mindset and that side of work that energizes me from my engineering background. Still, I just wanted to apply it differently to a different industry.” Benj says.

Benj was interested in the Atlanta-based Goizueta MBA for a variety of reasons. First, he was looking for a top business school near his family in Birmingham, Alabama; he also wanted an MBA with connections to a consulting center.

“The job opportunities and prospects in Atlanta are great, especially for those who want to go into consulting, and there’s a great pipeline from Goizueta to all the different consulting firms.”

Atlanta is home to the offices of 75% of the Fortune 1000 companies, making it a thriving metropolis for learning and career development.

Goizueta’s emphasis on smaller class sizes and intimate teaching also appealed to Benj. Their two-year MBA program has a 5:1 student-to-faculty ratio that helps participants connect, network, and build relationships with faculty, program, and career staff, and with classmates.

Goizueta’s experienced faculty was a highlight of Benj’s time. He was inspired by his strategy courses, especially those taught by Renee Dye, Associate Professor of Organization and Management. The first was a core strategy course and the second focused on innovation.

“My time in business school shaped the way I think both at work and in the world,” says Benj.

For example, a class on customer lifetime assessment taught by Professor Dan McCarthy, an expert and leader in the field, was a highlight for Benj.

“It was inspiring to take that class with someone who is such a thought leader,” explains Benj. “And to see how he would share his thoughts and how people, other business leaders, would engage and respond with his thoughts.”


34e8dcc696676041a5a90f8e468db7deba0ce91e.png


Taking advantage of the Goizueta MBA network

In Benj’s first semester, Goizueta’s career management team established the recruitment and application timeline, laying out the steps students must take to succeed and realize their career goals. Benj had a career coach whose resume reviews and practice interviews helped prepare him for the rigors of the consulting hiring process.

Benj was also a member of Goizueta’s consulting club called the Goizueta Consulting Association (GCA), in which second-year consulting students shared their knowledge with first-year students and helped them land and be successful in landing their jobs. dreams.

“It was an invaluable resource,” says Benj.

The GCA would organize connections between Goizueta students and alumni who work in consulting firms.

“Not only do you get to practice with the people you meet and the representatives who are going to interview you, but it’s also another point of contact for networking,” explains Benj.

While initially hesitant about networking, Benj found that the Goizueta community was incredibly well-represented in consulting firms: 40% of Goizueta’s MBA alumni are in consulting, and he was ready and willing to help you connect with companies and provide you with useful information.

Benj describes Goizueta’s process of hiring consultants following an established structure. He began networking in the first of September and October for his MBA until he submitted his applications the following fall.

“The process consisted almost exclusively of web chats between Emory alumni and myself at Bain to help me along the way.”


fdd1d14d7fbb4e1fc0e398bd37871242c70c5e1c.jpg


Launching a career at Bain

After two years of gaining experience and skills, including an internship at Bain, Benj began interviewing for positions. The consulting interview process is famously exhausting, but Benj says the preparation he did during his MBA at Goizueta set him up for success.

Now with Bain since June, he works across industries, using the problem-solving skills he learned in the Navy and honed during his MBA at Goizueta to help companies solve their most complex challenges.

“I am currently working with a company on a case in the advanced manufacturing and services industry. I’m helping inform this company’s thinking about their supplier relationships and how they can re-evaluate them to create value in the future.”

For those looking to consult with a major company like Bain, Benj says that people with an analytical mindset will succeed.

“I think those who are very intellectually curious are the people who will be successful and find a fulfilling role in consulting.”

Leave a Comment