Deborah Lovich, Managing Director and Senior Partner of Boston Consulting Group, leads the company’s People Strategy topic, which she says “is basically helping organizations have the culture, leadership, talent and skills they need to deliver their strategic and operational priorities.” In other words, she helps clients build their capabilities.
Lovich has been with the company for nearly three decades and says that she continues to be challenged every single day. When she isn’t feeling pushed, she takes on something new. That’s how she has ended up in seven totally different roles at BCG. To her, developing your career does not have to mean changing companies.
We caught up with Lovich to learn more about her career success and the advice she has for other women looking to grow their own careers. Here’s what she had to say.
Can you identify anything you said or did that earmarked you as someone ready for advancement?
I would just put up my hand and say, “I want to take this on.” BCG would never say no to that.
What was the best quality of the best boss you’ve ever had?
A leader who gave me really tough challenges, then stepped away and let me figure out how to deliver against it. He gave me tons of high fives and praise when I succeeded but also was not timid in giving me honest and direct messages when I failed. But the most important thing was giving me space and being there to help when I asked, or to vent to when I needed.
What were your initial thoughts when you learned you were moving into a leadership role?
Managing people — especially if you’re new to it — is not easy. How has your Boston Consulting Group/your own manager helped set you up for success? How is this kind of support reflective of the overall culture at your Boston Consulting Group?
I have been doing it for a long time now. It is about leading the way I like to be led.
What’s been your most valuable career mistake?
I took on a brief stint working with a partner to start up a new company around something I was passionate about. But I let my passion guide me instead of taking the time to make sure the partner and I were aligned and a good match. Even though it didn’t work out, I learned a ton about myself in the process, which was invaluable.
What’s something you’re especially good at at work?
Celebrating other people as often as I can. My belief is that if I think to myself that someone did a great job at something — I shouldn’t just think it but, rather, I should take the time to tell them and others. You simply cannot give enough good feedback — but it has to be genuine and deserved.
What about outside of work?
I love to walk, hike and just be active. I wish I was really good at a sport, but I am not.
What are you trying to improve on?
So, so many things, including being more patient when people do not seem to work at my speed as well as not burning food because I get distracted.
What’s the one career move you’ve made that you’re most proud of?
Resigning as a partner at BCG to become part of the administrative staff, which we call business services. I came back to the partnership seven years later. Taking myself off the fast track not only allowed me to have more time at home with the kids, but I also gained a true appreciation for the amazing job our Business Services team does every day. It is a team full of unsung heroes and heroines who do magic and, more importantly, are also a ton of fun!
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