Have we got a treat for you today, as we highlight up-and-coming software consulting firm Bulger Partners. Founded in 2012, headquartered in Boston, and already turning down three projects for every one it accepts, the firm has experienced exponential growth in its first five years of existence. In fact, the firm is already beating out strategy heavyweights for strategy projects in the tech sector due to better industry specialty. What makes Bulger Partners even more unique among consulting firms is the fact that the firm houses Strategy Consulting and Investment Banking arms under the same roof, and even has a small PE fund. For the purposes of this profile, we will only be focusing on the firm’s consulting work.
But should you want to work at Bulger Partners? If you have a passion for technology and have a dream of one day being a Silicon Valley CEO, there’s not many better places to go, as your clients at the firm will be major tech CEOs. The firm does a significant amount of diligence work for PE firms, and also performs an assessment of their ability to compete from a technical and product standpoint for tech acquirers – Bulger Partners is the only firm in the industry currently providing this service. On the value creation side, Bulger Partners covers 13 different types of value assignments (growth strategy offerings, technical strategy, operations, etc.).
A majority of the firm’s hires are at the undergrad level (the firm doesn’t recruit at any MBA programs), and if Silicon Valley is your dream, working at Bulger Partners for 2-3 years may be better equip you for the future than a top-flight MBA. But if MBB is your ultimate dream, you won’t receive the broad industry exposure you’d receive at other boutiques that would allow you to make the transition successfully.
BULGER PARTNERS KEY STATS
- Website: http://bulgerpartners.com/
- Headquarters: Boston, MA
- Employees: 40+ consultants
- Locations: 2 (Boston, London)
- Chief Executive: Chris Bulger
- Revenue: $20M
- Engagement Cost: $100,000 – $1M
BULGER PARTNERS FIRM HISTORY
Bulger Partners really got off the ground in 2012 and was the brainchild of Managing Partner Chris Bulger. Chris brought with him decades of experience advising software and tech clients in the IB world, and found that the skill set he was optimized to serve and consult for the new software economy. The firm also brought on technology executive and entrepreneur Jeffrey Vogel to build the consulting operations as Head of Strategy Consulting.
For a young boutique firm, Bulger Partners has compiled an all-star roster of advisors. Some members of the Advisory Board include:
- Sandy Robertson – Pioneered the creation of West Coast technology banking as an industry. Former Director at Smith Barney, and Founder of Montgomery Securities and Robertson, Stephens & Co. Currently Founding Partner at Francisco Partners.
- Beth Axelrod – Current VP of Employee Experience at Airbnb, former Senior VP of HR at eBay and Principal at McKinsey.
- Kenny Pasternak – CEO of hedge fund Chestnut Ridge Capital, former Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of Knight Capital.
BULGER PARTNERS ORGANIZATION
Bulger Partners places a heavy emphasis on creating a flat hierarchical structure. In the firm’s flagship Boston office, 100% of employees – including the Managing Partner and Senior Leadership – sit out in an open bullpen (software company style). Not only does this arrangement allow for a free-flow of ideas, but also allows the fast-growing firm to make its Senior Leadership available to mentor Associates simply by being accessible.
Industries and Practice Areas
Bulger Partners works exclusively with businesses whose primary strategic assets are software and data. The firm touts sector expertise in:
- Enterprise Software
- Healthcare IT
- Consumer Internet
- Vertical Applications
- Marketing and Ad Tech
- Infrastructure Software
- Call Center & Communications
Currently, the firm has only two locations: Boston, MA and London, UK.
The firm’s career path is as follows:
Associate (undergrad) -> Sr. Associate -> Manager (6-11 yrs. of experience) -> Director -> Managing Director
Be aware that the firm only recruits at a few select undergrad programs. Experienced hires generally enter the firm at the Manager level and Sr. Associate levels, depending on work experience. Bulger Partners onboarded over a dozen new hires across all levels in 2017, a majority of whom were Associates and Sr. Associates. The firm also launched an intern program in Summer 2017 that recruits from 3 target programs.
Bulger Partners offers what are termed “leveraged offers” – a unique setup in the consulting world. Be aware: your base salary will be lower than at comparable firms, but your bonus potential will be higher. A majority of consultants received bonuses last year. Interested in salaries for other top consulting firms? Check out our latest salary data here.
Consultants leaving Bulger Partners transition to blue chip PE and VC firms, as well as tech firms. The firm does not employ an up or out model, another rarity in the industry. However, if your ambitions are to move to MBB or a strategy role in a non-tech Fortune 500 company, your options will be limited.
BULGER PARTNERS CULTURE
Bulger Partners has built a collegial, tight-knit culture, where employees genuinely enjoy spending time with each other outside of the office. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the layout of the firm’s Boston office, where the back of the house includes exposed brick walls and wide open space (mirroring a Silicon Valley startup) allowing an open flow of information and the best brains to work together. The firm hosts a team meal every other Friday at a restaurant across the street and places an emphasis on the social impact of food (health, where it’s sourced, etc.) as well as the community aspect of sharing a meal together. Bulger Partners also hosts an off-site excursion for the whole firm every summer – this year’s fun times will be going down in Newport, RI.
Bulger Partners also values open communication (the quality of an idea over the position of the one with the idea). Managing Partner Chris Bulger has been known to tell employees that his goal for them is to have more job opportunities in the current year than the year before. Now that’s leadership we can get behind.
Bulger Partners takes on two distinct types of projects: Diligence and Value Creation. On the Diligence side, you’ll be working in a team of 3-4 consultants for 3-6 weeks. A Value creation project is typical of a majority of strategy projects: you’ll be staffed for 3-6 months on the project with 4-6 team members. The firm also employs a lighter travel model than many other firms. For example, at Bulger Partners you’ll travel less than you would at Deloitte or PwC.
As mentioned earlier, the firm does have a mentoring system in place, but due to the rapid growth the firm is experiencing, systems do fall behind. However, there is definitely easy access to senior leaders. If you are the type of person that requires a structured mentorship arrangement, Bulger Partners is probably not the place for you. Along with mentorship, the firm does also place an emphasis on professional development with its Lunch & Learn program. However, growth has outpaced even the firm’s wildest expectations, and so systems are still being put in place to ensure continuous learning for current consultants. This is especially important for Bulger Partners, as the firm plays exclusively in the rapidly changing tech landscape.
BULGER PARTNERS INTERVIEW TIPS & RECRUITING
Many tech CEOs are not former consultants, but rather engineers first. Because of this, Bulger Partners looks for individuals with insight into the technical side of the market in order to be able to relate to clients. The firm has built unique tools and capabilities, without which you can’t work in the software world. After all, the information based economy operates under different rules than the capital based economy.
On campus, the firm looks for candidates with an interest in software and tech, as well as those who have proven themselves to be quick learners. A baseline understanding of the PE world is preferred (read: get an internship!). The firm finds a Computer Science background attractive – but does not require coding experience. In fact, 75% of consultants join the firm without knowing how to code. Bulger Partners also looks for a baseline knowledge of software, and recruits heavily from Engineering and Computer Science departments. Unsurprisingly, the firm likes non-traditional applicants, so feel free to apply if you have an interest in being a part of the tech economy. Unlike many other firms, Bulger Partners does not have formal GPA and SAT cutoffs to apply.
For lateral hires, the firm seeks prior consulting experience (tech/strategy), software company experience (mostly on the product side), or experience being a part of a strategy group from a larger firm. Many of the firm’s lateral hires transition from Accenture, Deloitte, and IBM.
As with all other consulting firms, networking is key to landing an interview offer at Bulger Partners. Not sure how to begin? We can help!
Bulger Partners uses executive recruiting firms to find lateral hires. During undergrad recruiting, the firm holds on-campus interviews (1st round on-campus – conducted by alumni, 2nd round in-office), and does not require presentations to be made in the interview at the present time. During a Bulger Partners interview, M&A type cases are prevalent, along with Market Strategy cases for software companies. The cases are not meant to be difficult, but be sure to go in prepared, as the cases are more interviewer-led. There is a Round 3 interview for lateral hires, and you’ll have a final dinner with Senior Leadership if you are a senior hire.
- Brown University
- Tufts University
- Boston College
Bulger Partners also posts and attends events at Harvard University.
The firm does not have formal diversity programs at this time. However, gender diversity is big focus at the firm. In this case, the stereotype of women in tech holds true: Bulger Partners struggles to recruit qualified female candidates. The firm is attempting to rectify this by hosting events with Women in Business groups at Brown, Tufts and Boston College as well as coffee chats at Wellesley.