Ross Love: the man behind Boston Consulting Group's office transformation
Interview by Molly O'Brien, Marketing & Communications Specialist, Advance.
The sprawling view from Boston Consulting Group’s freshly opened New York office is stunning, one that could easily rival standing at the top of the Empire State Building or One World Trade Center.
The man behind this Hudson Yards masterpiece is Ross Love – a Sydney-native, now New York adoptee – who heads BCG’s largest office and led the move from their midtown office and design of the new space.
Love wanted to create an enjoyable workplace experience that would inspire BCG employees to collaborate and be innovative – to build relationships and share insights to achieve outstanding results.
While on a tour of the new office, Advance caught up with Love to chat about the effect of the new space on employee output, his views on why while Australians do well in the U.S., and his most memorable “New York” moment.
What was the main impetus for you moving to New York?
The opportunity to come here and lead the BCG New York office arose two and a half years ago; the chance for my wife and I to have an inner-city experience was too good to pass up!
We’re both originally from Perth, and together as a couple had lived in Boston and Palo Alto for graduate school back in the 80s. While we were in the U.S., particularly when we were living in Boston, we would come into New York whenever we could.
There’s a bit of travel involved as part of my role as a partner in BCG's global partnership, and we always managed to get a few days in New York built into an itinerary each year. It was certainly in the back of our minds that at some stage we would like to actually live here. Coincidentally, there was an opportunity to lead the New York office redevelopment. The chairman of our North American business had done a lot of consulting work in Australia and knew that I was interested, and so he made the offer.
What does your day-to-day entail as Managing Partner for the Boston Consulting Group?
I don’t have a typical day-to-day. There’s still plenty involved with client services; working with strategy and execution, and transformation projects. That would be about half my job. My other “management” half is to lead this office, both commercially and culturally. Our business is a 100% people business, all about who we can attract, retain, develop, and energise.
How important is workplace culture?
Culture is a really important part of our business, and I'm responsible for that as well as helping the partners collaborate and join dots for people across the different practices and activities that we undertake.
Have you noticed a correlation between moving to this great new space and the output of your employees?
It’s hard to measure the output of our staff, because we're not producing a standardised product. We can measure their degree of connectivity and the degree of draw to the office when they don't have to be in there. We take the view that most of our 750 people here don't have to come to the office, but we tried to create an environment where they want to come to the office. On both of those measurements we've seen and recorded a dramatic increase, so I would say it's been really quite profound.
The design of the office was very deliberate, so that people run into each other a lot more than they used to. We call it the "collision coefficient." We claim that we can measure how many times people will run into each other based on the design of the floor plan.
Do you think you have brought any elements of your “Australianism” over here with you?
I think some elements of my conduct are Australian, and some of them are just having come from outside of this market. The wonderful thing about New York is that it's a very cosmopolitan city and a lot of people have come from other places, so there's a lot of new thinking and openness.
There are definitely a couple of things I think that you bring from a smaller market or society, like Australia, to a larger one, like America. For example, in a smaller economy you become a little bit of a jack-of-all-trades out of necessity, whereas in a larger economy you tend to have to specialise earlier and more deeply. I think we do have a couple of advantages as Australians; there is a much more open and fluid process around what you study and where you work, which helps.
Why do you think Australians come to New York and do so well?
I think that Australians work really hard and are able to deal with intensity well. The people who choose to come to New York and flourish here are more energised by all the activity than they are overwhelmed by it. You've got a very talented, energetic group of people from Australia coming into a population here that’s receptive to those qualities, and for that reason it’s easy for Australians to integrate. And I think one of the most remarkable things about New York is just how friendly and accessible it is, if you put in the effort.
I think that Australians should be really confident about their ability to deal with the world outside of Australia, more of us should have the confidence to give it a go! I think most global Australians maintain a great emotional connection with Australia, and many of us all go back and visit and share our stories. I think it collectively enriches the country.
Do you have any plans to move back to Australia?
Our time here is open-ended, but I think at some stage we'll transfer our main base back to Sydney, for family and other reasons. However, we like to think that we can continue to move backwards and forwards between Sydney and New York for the rest of our lives.
What’s the next exciting project now that the office move is completed?
The New York office is the largest office in the BCG global network in terms of its size, revenues, partners and staff. In terms of market share though, it’s probably our smallest, so the challenge that we’ve experienced parallel to this move and creating workplace culture is to really maintain the level of growth that we need to, to continue to be relevant in this market. So growth – profitable growth – is what we’re focusing on next.
What's been your most New York moment since you've been living here? Seeing Leonardo DiCaprio on a Citi Bike?
Not quite, but it’s in the right ballpark. My best New York moment happened recently. My wife and I got up late one Saturday morning – having brunch and reading the New York Times, and we realised that it was the last weekend of the Tribeca Film Festival. There was an article describing one of the features on the last day was going to be – a screening of Godfather I and Godfather II at Radio City Music Hall, followed by a discussion with Francis Ford Coppola and the cast – except Marlon Brando, of course. Lo and behold, there were just two tickets available, and within five minutes of reading it we had two we were on our way to see this screening which started an hour later. It was an incredible experience. Things like that can only happen in New York!