In honor of Jewish American Heritage Month, we sat down with Boston Manager Ben McIntosh to learn more about the importance of this month and how his cultural identity has shaped his life both personally and professionally.

Tell us about yourself and your journey to L.E.K.
I first heard about L.E.K. before business school. I was working at a smaller consulting firm, where our clients also used L.E.K. and had great things to say about their work. By the time I pursued my MBA at Tuck, I was already excited about L.E.K.

During my MBA, I had an amazing experience interning at L.E.K.’s Boston office working with smart, creative colleagues who taught me a lot and showed me how much more I had to learn. The experience made me eager to join L.E.K. full time in 2020. Over my first four years here, I’ve been through major life events like becoming a father, taken on two different roles in the firm, and faced new challenges and growth opportunities at every turn.

Can you share with us a significant cultural tradition or celebration from your Jewish heritage that has shaped your identity and values?
Shabbat dinner on Fridays with my family is a foundational part of my life and has really shaped who I am today both personally and professionally. I’ve been doing it my whole life, and now I’m sharing it with my daughter. My family gets together to light candles and say blessings, but it’s not really about the religion – it’s about us coming together as a family. We chat about everything – the news, school, politics, you name it. These dinners taught me to love a good debate, to think critically, and to comfortably share my opinions and to listen to others. It’s a huge plus at L.E.K., where they really value well-thought-out and well-articulated ideas.

Shabbat also taught me to really value family. For many, myself included, the thousands of years of tradition are a means to an end. What matters is the strong family ties they build and shared experiences they create.

What ways do you think awareness and appreciation of Jewish American heritage contribute to a more inclusive and diverse workplace environment?
For myself and other members of the Jewish community, it’s vital. It’s all about belonging and helping show that we are valued members of the wider L.E.K. community. Being Jewish is a really foundational part of who I am, and events like this and the support of our many Employee Resource Groups help to create a space in which I can bring my whole self. I think Jewish Americans have had their own unique experiences. The simple fact that we have ERGs to discuss this and facilitate the building of a Jewish community within our firm really shows what a special place this is.  

Have you encountered any challenges or opportunities related to your cultural identity in your career and how have you navigated them?
The biggest challenge to navigate has been communication styles. I come from a background where debates and heated discussion are a part of the air we breathe. At Shabbat dinner, if you’re not interrupting, you’re not listening. I’ve had to learn to dial it back, to be a more patient and respectful listener. It’s been a journey, but it’s important for building relationships and working more effectively with my colleagues. Adapting to different communication styles and finding common ground – it’s all part of creating a more inclusive and collaborative workplace.

Could you highlight a Jewish person, whether historical or contemporary, who has inspired you personally or professionally?
I often think of my grandfather and his generation, who navigated the challenges of being Jewish in a very different America. He came to this country as a refugee wearing knickerbockers. He got his PhD from Harvard less than a decade after Harvard ended its quota on Jewish undergraduates. He persisted through and ultimately carved out a path for himself and future generations at the university. Thinking about his journey and the obstacles he overcame is a constant reminder for me to keep pushing forward.

Also, while not Jewish, George Washington always comes to mind. In 1790, the congregation of the first Jewish synagogue in Rhode Island wrote to Washington asking if they truly belonged in this new nation. It was a big question. To paraphrase, his response was an emphatic ‘Yes you do. Bigotry and persecution have no place here’. That really stuck with me. Anytime I worry about belonging or my place in this world, I remember that America is for everyone.