Flexibility Profile: Bain & Company Partner Heidi Locke Simon

by Amy Nassisi

Heidi Locke Simon, a partner in Bain’s San Francisco office has taken advantage of a full range of flexible options, including an overseas transfer, a leave of absence and two part-time arrangements. She currently balances her full-time schedule to accommodate the needs of both her family and clients.

Benefits of this Flexible Arrangement to the Company

Bain & Company’s approach to work/life balance has helped attract and retain top talent like Heidi, and maintain a diverse workforce. The firm boasts of being one of the first consulting firms to start offering part-time options for greater balance. The program was designed almost 20 years ago to allow consultants who have been with Bain for more than one year the option to work part-time — spending 50 percent of their time doing client casework and 10 percent of their time doing personal and professional development. The program began as an effort to retain women who were leaving the firm to raise families and foster a greater work-life balance.

Heidi, who has been with Bain for more than 14 years, feels strongly that the company’s flexibility and support for her interests outside of work has helped keep her motivated and able to sustain a rewarding career in a demanding industry. By maintaining a rich life outside of work, she feels she brings a lot more to the firm in helping her clients achieve results.

Motivation for Flex Career

Heidi’s motivations for flexing her schedule have changed over time. Her situation is an excellent example of how a custom career path may vary over time to balance changing business and personal needs.

Heidi first explored her options for flexing her schedule after the birth of her first child. She and her husband were both managing demanding careers and juggling travel schedules when their daughter was born. Luckily Heidi’s husband worked from home when he was in town, and could be very involved. But to best manage the early months, Heidi chose to take a leave of absence for 4 months and returned from that leave to a part-time arrangement for the following 4 months. She was promoted to partner in the year of her return and transitioned back to a full-time schedule for several years while her daughter was young.

When her daughter turned four, Heidi requested another part-time arrangement to have more time at home. Heidi had also wanted to carve out more time to work with a local non-profit organization. After a year on this part-time arrangement Heidi realized that her ambitions were such that she was going to invest a significant amount of time in having an impact in the world, whether she was working full-time or not. And that her daughter wasn’t suffering from having such an involved mom. Heidi also realized while working part-time, that at her level of experience, and employing new skills in prioritization and time management, she was able to carry a full-time load with her clients on a schedule that would work for her personally. So Heidi decided to return to her position at Bain full-time, but this time with a commitment to flexing her full-time schedule, to optimize time for work, family and community service. She’s been thriving on this model ever since.

How it Works