2005 Finance Recruiters MBA Chat


2005 Finance Recruiters MBA Chat

Please feel free to let us know if you would like to be informed of future chats by sending e-mail to chat@accepted.com. We would also be interested in knowing if you would prefer a different format or different topics.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 10:20:52 AM)
Let's start.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 10:22:46 AM)
Accepted.com and the Michigan Ross School of Business, represented by Al Cotrone, Director of the Office of Career Development, would like to welcome all of you to this online chat, "Talent Seekers Speak: Why We Value the MBA." We want to extend special thanks to the very busy recruiters who have joined us today:

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 10:23:02 AM)
First a little bit on procedure. This chat is one of four half-hour segments in the recruiter chat today. The segments and participating companies are as follows:

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 10:23:14 AM)
Financial services - Bear, Stearns; Deutsche Bank; JP Morgan Consulting -- Boston Consulting Group; Deloitte; Booz Allen Hamilton; Bain, Marketing -- Johnson & Johnson, General Mills, General Electric General Mgmt -- Wal-Mart, DuPont, Alcoa

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 10:23:36 AM)
Unfortunately, the financial services representatives have had log-in problems.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 10:25:41 AM)
What qualities do you value in MBA grads?

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 10:25:51 AM)
Al, what qualities do you think are particularly valued in financial services?

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 10:26:14 AM)
Bryant and Dave, you can answer for J&J and Alcoa.

AlCotroneRoss (Sep 21, 2005 10:26:36 AM)
One of the qualities that is clearly valued is the ability to handle the fast pace and intense environment. This is evaluated not only based on prior experience, but even during the interview process. Obviously, analytical skills are also important. Students who are desirous of a position ultimately in financial services, should begin to think about things like the lifestyle, the pace and the rigor even as they apply to business schools. There is a distinction between finance positions at corporations and those at investment banks, but the basic hallmarks are present at both. One thing I can say is that coming into the MBA application process with the idea of exploring a career in finance is a bit hard to do - the field requires great dedication, and it is usually something that those who are successful in the field, have a good sense of even as they contemplate pursuing their MBA.

BryantIsonJ&J (Sep 21, 2005 10:26:39 AM)
For marketing, leadership, teamwork, and initiative are very important skills.

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 10:26:59 AM)
Well, I am technically part of the general management discussion so it is difficult of me to speak to Alcoa's financial requirements.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 10:27:24 AM)
Then please speak from your perspective. Al will address the financial services viewpoint.

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 10:28:07 AM)
Well, first and foremost, there are the technical pieces. One needs to understand how M&A works, and how to handle things like cost accounting from a controllers perspective. But ultimately, the ability to generate results in a $22B organization folds down to people. One must be able to work with teams and generate results through people. There I think the Michigan MBA really shines.

BryantIsonJ&J (Sep 21, 2005 10:28:29 AM)
As you're running a business, you need to be able to rally a team of people to your side and that requires leadership and initiative. At places like J&J, marketing is the leadership function, so if we're not setting the tone and the direction for the company, nobody is.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 10:30:25 AM)
Business schools have been criticized for being too academic and producing graduates who are not really ready to start working. Do you agree or disagree and why?

AlCotroneRoss (Sep 21, 2005 10:30:40 AM)
Also, the value of the MBA is clear in the finance field in that the analyst positions which are 2-3 year positions for undergrads, while the associate positions almost always require the MBA.

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 10:31:41 AM)
I agree Linda. But, once I started working, I realized that the academic knowledge is desperately needed in the organization. It is difficult to get the best of both worlds in an MBA, but look for programs that have consulting assignments with companies. Do those assignments often. You can also create the experience. There are lots of clubs that put you into the real world. There are also numerous competitions that do the same. You create your experience. Look for a school that promotes that and you will do well.

AlCotroneRoss (Sep 21, 2005 10:32:30 AM)
I think that over the years, it's been common for those who are hiring new employees to have the criticism that those new employees are "book smart" and "need real world experience". I know that I heard this over twenty years ago, when I, myself was a student. I think that in recent years, all of the top programs have taken steps to include more real world experience in their programs, and, ultimately, the evidence is that the companies continue to hire the grads, so either it's not a valid criticism any longer, or the companies are willing to do the training on their own - either way - the students win!

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 10:32:35 AM)
You really felt that the more practically oriented projects were the most educational or was it the combination?

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 10:33:30 AM)
What can MBA applicants do before and during their business school studies to make themselves more valuable to firms when they graduate?

BryantIsonJ&J (Sep 21, 2005 10:33:36 AM)
For J&J, the MBA is highly valued - notably for developing leadership skills. However, it's important in Brand Management that people come in with basic marketing and analytic skills. In Brand, you have a lot of responsibility very quickly, so the expectations are high. Having the MBA experience sets you up to succeed in that kind of an environment as a leader.

AlCotroneRoss (Sep 21, 2005 10:33:42 AM)
Also, if I may, I know that here at Ross, we have consciously tried to expand an already significant portfolio of real world learning opportunities. So, while grads will never have the experience that those who are doing the hiring have - I think that grads today have more experience both before and during their education than ever before.

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 10:33:52 AM)
It was the combination. I learned project finance in class, but didn't really get it. Once I did a 7-week consulting project on it, when I was paired with investment bankers, consultants, and marketing folks. The experience of working with my classmates in a real setting brought it all together.

JimRoss (Sep 21, 2005 10:35:05 AM)
Does the MBA program in which you earn your degree make a difference in the recruiting process for financial services careers?

Jason (Sep 21, 2005 10:35:21 AM)
Al, I am currently working in publishing, in marketing and project management, and I'm looking to switch careers into something more along the lines of financial analysis, financial services or consulting. However, I am worried that since I haven't worked in any of these fields so far, that I don't have much of a chance to break in. What chances does someone like me have to use an MBA to switch into a career like this? Would a company hire someone who had no previous experience in your particular field? Is an internship taken during an MBA adequate?

BryantIsonJ&J (Sep 21, 2005 10:35:43 AM)
Linda, MBA applicants need to develop and show that they have those key success factors of leadership, initiative, teamwork, strategic thinking and analytics. Also, it doesn't hurt to have marketing experience. It helps you to talk the talk of your industry and to position your experiences in the most impactful way.

AlCotroneRoss (Sep 21, 2005 10:36:12 AM)
Jim, it is true that different firms will hire for different functions to different levels at different schools, but overall, most firms will accept resumes from all top tier programs. Every top school has several alumni at every bank or company, and these will always be your entree.

infoseek (Sep 21, 2005 10:36:54 AM)
David and Bryant: How about preference in recruitment for part time vs. full time MBA graduates?

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 10:36:56 AM)
Yes, Jim, I think it makes a difference. Schools have reputations, but those reputations are not consistent across companies. You should look at which companies recruit at which schools for some guidance. Also, spend time talking with students going through recruitment. They will tell you loads

AlCotroneRoss (Sep 21, 2005 10:37:27 AM)
Jason, the internship is particularly important for careers in financial services. Also, if you have a year or more until your start your MBA, seeking out projects or even a career switch now can go a really long way to helping you in this effort. Seek projects that will expose you more broadly to finance. So - yes - virtually all MBAs are career changers, but there are things you can do to enhance your chances of success.

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 10:37:35 AM)
I don't see any major difference between recruiting full-time or part-time MBA graduates. Al would know better than I would.

BryantIsonJ&J (Sep 21, 2005 10:37:38 AM)
Where the MBA is earned helps you get the interview, but is not the end-all. We accept the top candidates from anywhere we can get them. However, by going to a top MBA program you get access to the interviews. I also find that the top programs help to prepare you for your chosen industry.

suziewong (Sep 21, 2005 10:38:18 AM)
Bryant and David: Do you include top European programs when you refer to top tier schools?

BryantIsonJ&J (Sep 21, 2005 10:38:29 AM)
No. European programs are a bit off our radar screen for US marketing, although global J&J looks there.

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 10:38:41 AM)
I believe Alcoa does. We are a global company.

UOR1 (Sep 21, 2005 10:38:46 AM)
David: Do companies like Alcoa have a leadership/rotational program? How will they look at someone with significant work experience and advanced technical degrees before the experience. Will being in your low to mid 30s be a disadvantage?

2006 (Sep 21, 2005 10:39:07 AM)
How are financial services and brand management for sponsoring international students' visas? I am considering a career in brand management but am apprehensive at the idea of not finding an employer who will sponsor my employment visa.

cisse (Sep 21, 2005 10:39:22 AM)
Al: Do you have an age limit for hiring people in finance?

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 10:39:39 AM)
I am in my low 30's and only focused on rotational programs. It depends on the company. You will want a program that rotates you at more senior levels. That is why I chose Alcoa.

BryantIsonJ&J (Sep 21, 2005 10:40:33 AM)
J&J recruits international students, but I don't have any experience there. I have to say that the visa needs do limit you, but it's not impossible.

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 10:40:34 AM)
Thanks again to David and Bryant for pinch-hitting , and to all of you for your participation. Last but not least, I want to acknowledge the critical role played by the Michigan Ross staff. Thank you for your vital help in putting this event together. And congratulations on your WSJ ranking!

Linda Abraham (Sep 21, 2005 10:40:49 AM)
Applicants, if you would like more information about Michigan Ross' top-ranked program (#2 in the WSJ recruiter survey this year!), please visit http://www.bus.umich.edu/Admissions/ .

AlCotroneRoss (Sep 21, 2005 10:40:50 AM)
Investment Banks and consultants are pretty wide open to hiring international students. Corporate financial positions vary from company to company - some will, some won't. Marketing tends to be the field that is the least likely to sponsor for H-1b usually due to the need for cultural awareness.

AlCotroneRoss (Sep 21, 2005 10:41:40 AM)
Cisse, Companies are not legally permitted to allow age to be a factor in their hiring processes. Typically, if you are aware of the requirements of the job and the compensation restrictions, they will consider you based on your experience.

DavidKarpelowitzAlcoa (Sep 21, 2005 10:42:27 AM)
Enjoy and good luck with your MBA's. Absolutely a great, challenging time and one that you will miss when you start work.

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