From Wildfires to COVID, This Consultant Works on Solving Real-World Problems
Ana Mancia always wanted a career that would allow her to “save the world”—and she thought the only way to have an impact was by working for a nonprofit or the government. But after a few roles at nonprofits, Mancia realized she could actually do even more meaningful work as a consultant.
“Consulting would allow me to work with many different organizations and develop a macro perspective on the challenges they face,” she says.
She was right. Ever since joining Boston Consulting Group in 2019, Mancia has been helping government agencies and nonprofit organizations tackle social, economic, environmental, and public health issues as a consultant working within the public sector practice.
“From developing a wildfire mitigation strategy to COVID response, I’ve worked on a wide range of real problems,” she says.
Here, Mancia talks about how she helped a West Coast state reduce its risk of wildfires, why she left San Francisco for Seattle, and the valuable lesson everyone should know when starting a new job.
What initially attracted you to apply for an associate position at Boston Consulting Group?
I wanted the freedom to explore and not be tied to a specific area or industry yet and was drawn to the flexibility that BCG offers when starting your career. For a recent college graduate, it’s rare to have vast choices over which industries, functions, companies, and types of problems you want to dive deeper on.
Additionally, everyone I met at BCG was incredibly smart yet still wanted to learn and have their ideas tested. I could also tell they were truly passionate about their work at BCG—it wasn’t just a job for them. They cared deeply about unlocking the challenges at hand and leading advancements in their fields. I knew that BCG would be a place where I could grow immensely but also feel supported and respected.
Tell us about your work to help prevent and mitigate wildfires on the West Coast. What were your contributions, and what kind of impact did they have in the community?
Over the course of a year and a half, my team implemented utility wildfire mitigation strategies for a state and created requirements for utilities to maintain safer infrastructure and conduct wildfire prevention activities, such as vegetation management and grid hardening. We wrote the state’s official strategy and roadmap for utility wildfire mitigation, designed compliance protocols, and tracked data over time to assess the reduction of wildfires. I got to work with state leaders who were passionate about creating a safer and more sustainable future without catastrophic utility-related wildfires.
The rising wildfire risk is directly tied to climate change, and it will take continued action from everyone to make our communities more resilient. It’s been about three and half years since the start of BCG’s work, and the state continues to use the frameworks, tools, strategies, and requirements that we designed. I am proud to have made a positive impact on a pressing issue that will affect outcomes for many communities. It also showed me that BCG is truly a vehicle that goes above and beyond for deep, lasting change.
What do you like most about helping to solve real-world problems?
Our public sector practice has given me incredible opportunities to work on some of the most pressing challenges facing governments and society. The projects seriously motivate me to do my best work because I know they are going to impact many people.
In the public sector, I’ve gotten to see many of my final deliverables get published as documents for the public. For example, in 2020, I watched a state governor on TV present the COVID reopening plan that my team had written for him. There’s nothing quite like casually scrolling through the news and seeing your own material. It reminds me to always deliver the highest quality work that I can. I feel passionate about working with state and local governments, helping them serve people, and solving problems that no one has solved before. It feels more meaningful than just helping one company earn more profits, which may be more typical consulting work.
What is a challenge you have faced since joining BCG and how did you overcome it?
I struggled with my confidence when I began at BCG in 2019. I had imposter syndrome and felt intimidated because everyone was so smart. I eventually learned a very valuable lesson that’s true when starting at any company: The only thing people have on you is experience. No one at BCG was inherently smarter than me; they had just been here longer. Looking back, I’m amazed at how much I’ve grown and am grateful to the people who continuously support me.
What types of learning and development opportunities are available to employees?
BCG stresses the importance of having a growth mindset and having confidence in your ability to learn. There are many resources available to us, including dedicated coaches who can help with virtually any skill. Other opportunities include trainings at each career step, a strong feedback culture focused on continuous improvement, structured pairings with managers to help you succeed in your first few months, virtual channels to receive help from peers, and an online learning library with countless learning resources. Beyond that, I have been lucky to work with amazing managers and senior leaders who are truly invested in my development. They have given me growth opportunities and healthy challenges, and I know they always have my back.
As I start to manage my own teams now, I strive to be an empowering leader who enables others to be successful. It is so motivating to help others develop essential skills and grow in their careers.
In 2021, you relocated from San Francisco to Seattle. What inspired you to make this move, and how did the company support you during the transition?
I moved to Seattle because I wanted a new life! Having spent my entire life in California, I simply wanted a change and to experience a different state while staying on the West Coast. I also love the outdoors, and the nature in the Pacific Northwest is so beautiful.
Many BCGers transfer for family circumstances or to be with their significant other, and I was a single girl who just wanted to explore a new city and hike. I was worried that my reasons for transferring wouldn’t be taken seriously, but BCG was extremely supportive. Our teams helped me navigate the entire process, from acclimating to and meeting people in the Seattle office to getting extra time off to move and even staying closely connected with our San Francisco office so that I wouldn’t get FOMO about their events. It all went very smoothly, and I have loved living in Seattle.
Consulting can be a demanding career. How do you practice work-life balance?
One of my top priorities is my health, and it will always be more important than any job. I didn’t fully internalize this until I went through some significant health challenges, but I’ve now learned how critical it is to take care of my body and mind above all else. I try not to let work interfere with the important daily habits that I need to stay healthy, such as working out, eating proper meals, getting enough sleep, and practicing mindfulness. I am much more effective at my job when I am successfully taking care of myself, even if it means fewer hours spent at my computer.
I’ve also learned the importance of setting boundaries and ensuring my teams can respect them. During each project at BCG, we set team working norms and discuss our priorities outside of work, which creates a positive environment where we can perform while also bringing our whole selves to work. I think being yourself is an essential component of work-life balance: We are all human beings and it’s important to be vulnerable and open, and care for each other as individuals.