Q&A with L.E.K. Consultants Gerome Cabrera & Trisha Bartlett
Published: Apr 10, 2023
L.E.K. Consulting has an extensive healthcare practice that works with a diverse range of companies to address the many complex issues facing leaders in the healthcare sector. New York Senior Consultant Gerome Cabrera and San Francisco Manager Trisha Bartlett both work in the firm’s healthcare practice. Recently, Trisha and Gerome sat down with us to discuss why they joined L.E.K., what inspires them about working in their practice, and the value a career in consulting can bring. Below is an edited excerpt of that conversation.
What attracted you to L.E.K., and why did you decide to join the firm?
Gerome: After earning my undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from The City College of New York, I pursued a master’s degree in mathematical finance at Boston University. I began my career in the financial services industry, where I held various positions, including as a market risk analyst on a trading desk and as an investment banker. However, I ultimately realized that investment banking was not for me, and I was eager to start my own business. During this time, I founded a footwear brand. But after two years, I felt compelled to make a more meaningful impact on society utilizing my quantitative and problem-solving skills. I then took a role in business strategy at Columbia University Medical Center for two years before deciding to pursue an MBA at the Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University. After completing my MBA, I was focused on finding a position in consulting that offered a low-travel model, allowed me to work on pure strategy cases, provided private equity exposure, and gave me the ability to manage teams. L.E.K. met all those criteria.
Trisha: My plan wasn’t always to go into consulting. I started out in bioengineering in undergrad at UC Berkeley. Afterward, I worked at Abbott Laboratories for eight years in a variety of technical roles and in marketing and strategy. I completed my MBA part time at Berkeley Haas (I’m a double Golden Bear!), and I was looking for an opportunity to make a bigger impact in the healthcare industry overall. That is why I decided to pursue a career in consulting—because I’d have exposure to a variety of clients and problems across the healthcare continuum, and I was impressed by L.E.K.’s impact in the healthcare space. I was also really drawn to L.E.K.’s emphasis on work/life balance, and I really connected with the intelligent yet down-to-earth people I would get to work with.
How did you end up in your practice area, and what drew you to it?
Gerome: I started out as a generalist to gain exposure to various industries. However, on my fourth case, which was focused on behavioral health, I discovered the fascinating world of healthcare from a consultant’s perspective. I was intrigued by the thought leadership and accessibility to C-suite healthcare executives that provided a unique perspective of and insight into the industry. As a consultant, I am able to learn on the job and gain a deeper understanding of the complexities of healthcare. Currently, I work with clients in the healthcare services space (physicians, payers, digital health, tech, etc.). My projects involve developing strategies and evaluating investment opportunities. What I find most compelling about healthcare is that the industry is constantly evolving, and the challenges are complex and ever changing. I find it immensely satisfying to help companies navigate the complexities of healthcare, understand new innovations and technologies, and ultimately improve patient outcomes.
Trisha: I came in dedicated to L.E.K.’s Life Sciences practice, though most consultants come in as generalists. Because I had extensive experience in the medical device field, I wanted to leverage my background in the healthcare sector while pivoting to the biopharma space to learn a new industry. The majority of my work is in growth strategy for biopharma companies, and I work across a variety of disease areas, including oncology, immunology, and neuroscience. For some of our larger biopharma clients, we are working on projects like M&A strategy and business development screens, and for smaller biopharma projects we may work on clinical development strategy and indication or disease area prioritizations. These projects are super interesting and impactful since they are providing direction on the fundamental corporate strategy and identity of our clients.
What is a typical day like for you? What are some common tasks you perform?
Gerome: As an MBA consultant, my day-to-day work can vary depending on the project timeline, project scope, and other client-related requirements. Typically, the day starts with a discussion with my manager to set weekly goals and establish workstreams to achieve those goals for the client. In most cases, each associate on our team takes ownership of a specific workstream—such as survey analysis, model methodology, customer research, or other tasks—and my role involves guiding and reviewing their work. Additionally, I collaborate with the team to package their work together into a cohesive narrative that effectively communicates our findings and recommendations to the client.
Trisha: Every day is different in consulting, which is why I like it. I work very closely with my teams on all the research and analytical workstreams for our projects, and I am in touch daily with the client and our managing directors to ensure we are on track for providing insightful and thoughtful recommendations for our projects. A typical day may include conducting primary research interviews with physicians, hospital administrators, insurance companies, or other healthcare sector experts; working on a revenue forecast for a company’s lead drug product; or putting together a list of potential M&A targets. As a manager, I find one of the most rewarding parts of the job is acting as a mentor, so I also spend a lot of time giving career advice and providing feedback on case performance to my team members. I am also involved in a number of extracurriculars at L.E.K., so I might spend part of my day planning social events for the San Francisco office or attending events for various affinity groups, like Women@LEK.
What value does a career at L.E.K. bring to you professionally?
Gerome: For me, one of the main benefits of being an MBA consultant is the early leadership experience. Upon joining, I was managing a case team of three-plus associates and putting my MBA coursework into action. Additionally, I appreciate the level of support provided through our apprenticeship model, which allowed me to ramp up quickly and feel well positioned for continued growth as a team leader.
Trisha: Given the fast pace of work and diversity of projects at L.E.K., it seems like you can get five years of experience in two years. Most of the job is learned through hands-on project case experience, which is further supported by having great mentors and a very open feedback culture. L.E.K. fosters a very collaborative environment, and I’ve learned so much from the partners, managers, associates, and life sciences specialists I’ve worked with. Everyone here is very willing to take the extra time to mentor people and teach new skills, and it feels like a very flat organization that fosters growth for everyone at the firm. The diversity of clients and types of projects you are exposed to is very enriching and sets you up for success in anything you want to go for next—whether that is continuing up the L.E.K. managing director path within consulting or taking your talents elsewhere in the industry.