John Legend reflects on how his early days at a corporate consulting firm prepared him for the music business

How John Legend's past shapes him today

Music superstar and political activist John Legend sat down with CNBC's John Harwood to discuss a range of issues, including his time working as a business management consultant.

John Harwood: You picked University of Pennsylvania because Trump had gone there?

John Legend: Exactly. It was like, "Well, only if Donald Trump went there would I have gone."

Harwood: You happy you chose it? Was it good for you?

Legend: Very happy. I loved it there. I made some of the best friends in my life, some people I still work with now.

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Harwood: I don't think a lot of people recognize that you worked for one of the leading business management consulting firms after you got out of college. I wonder what that experience taught you about what makes the economy grow or not grow or what makes the economy fair or not fair.

Legend: Well, I don't think working at BCG taught me a lot about that because we weren't as concerned with kind of big kind of governmental policy and most of the cases I worked on, we were more concerned about ...

Harwood: Takeovers?

Legend: Oh, yeah. There were mergers, we worked on drug licensing, consulting with some of the pharmas, and so we worked with companies that really affect the economy, but we didn't do a lot of kind of big macro stuff as far as thinking about government policy and how it affects ...

Harwood: But were you part of where one firm takes over another firm, lays off a bunch of people — all that stuff that Mitt Romney got attacked for.

Legend: Of course, our firm was definitely involved in some of that stuff. I didn't do a lot post-merger integration cases, though there were some of my friends that did a lot of that.

Harwood: Was that a valuable experience for you?

Legend: I learned a lot. I met a lot of great people, I'm still friends with a lot of those folks, too. I think it just ups your level of expectation for the kind of business you want to work with. And how you work in teams, how you come to good decisions as a team, and I think all of those things helped me in my career, as a musician.

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