Vault's Careers Blog

Career advice and job search strategies for the modern careerist

Posts Tagged ‘MBA

Should You Bring ‘This’ Up During a Job Interview?

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In 2007, when the financial industry was at the brink of collapse, one executive at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) saw opportunity. Shannon Schuyler, then a member of PwC’s recruitment team, wrote a white paper for company leadership emphasizing that the firm needed someone to reorganize and refine their community initiatives, and give their corporate responsibility a face.

Three months later the job was hers. How did she re-strategize the firm’s hiring policies and recruitment outreach to encompass PwC’s commitment to corporate responsibility?

  1. For one, having a background in experienced hiring and on campus recruitment helped. She has seen first-hand the gradual evolution of the hiring landscape, where candidate priorities shifted from the best-paid job offer to work/life balance, and today, to a company’s commitment to responsible corporate citizenship. Her experience assured peers that directives coming from the new Corporate Responsibility Leader would be balanced and realistic.
  2. Secondly, the message from campuses was loud and clear. According to Schuyler, candidates are increasingly asking what the firm is doing to give back to the community, who they donate to, what they do toward the environment, etc. “They want to know how they can get engaged when they start. They want to know what our strategies are,” she said.
  3. Finally, she noted, markedly changing business strategies and decision making processes can be a double-edged sword. As her team continues to work on ensuring that new hires are aware and receptive of the company’s commitment from day one, she is also responsible for inculcating a deeper cultural change among current employees. And that is where her real battle lies.

Her observations mirror findings of Vault’s recently concluded Job Hunting in CSR series, where four MBA candidates discussed business school, their career transitions and job hunting, all connected with a commitment to CSR and change management.

For now, Schuyler is focusing on the “life cycle of a student.” Her team is busy redefining the firm’s hiring strategy by shifting their focus from best practices to candidates’ personal journey. “Increasingly, we ask, what are the opportunities? What could we continue to build on as a continuum? Would that really change what their education experience is, and ultimately, their success? It’s not just how you do the equations, but how you’re taking that and making it part of their life.”

–Posted by Aman Singh, Vault’s CSR Editor

Selling Yourself in the Job Search: What To Include in Your Pitch

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I coached a client who had made wine in Paris, modeled for major magazines, and started and sold a tech company. Most recently, to better round himself out, he went to business school. So when he introduced himself, did he talk wines, high fashion, or life as a former CEO? No, he called himself an MBA.


This eclectic, accomplished professional immediately lumps himself along with thousands of others by picking one of the most generic things on his resume. The MBA was from a good school, yes. It was an interesting counterpart to his otherwise very technical background, check. So it deserves to be mentioned, sure. But not first! It’s still much more plain vanilla than any of the other things he also had.

So, rule # 1 for your pitch is to lead with the memorable.

As a recruiter, I’ve interviewed tons of MBA’s (this guy wanted a financial services career, so no shortage of MBA’s there). But, I can count the number of successful entrepreneurs and/ or fashion models. Are you a black belt in karate, a former prima ballerina, fluent in multiple languages? Don’t be afraid to be unique.

I’m not suggesting to not mention the MBA at all. It’s a key part of his added value because he has the finance and technology combination. But it’s the combination that’s so interesting.

So, rule # 2 is to frame your qualities so that they build on each other.

Absolutely mention the different degrees you’ve completed, industries where you’ve worked, and functional roles that you’ve held. But weave them into a coherent plot line so that each adds a welcome dimension, not just another factoid for me to remember. So you started and sold a tech company and have an MBA from Top School X – interesting combo!

Results still matter. The wine stood out because it was Paris, the modeling was significant because he had worked at a top level, and the entrepreneurship added value because of his successful exit. (The MBA also fits in nicely because it’s from a top school.) You can’t just mention every interesting thing you do, like fluency in Pig Latin, if there is no business context. When I listed out black belt, prima ballerina or language fluency as possible unique items, these are all levels of mastery.

So, rule # 3 is to pick the qualities that have substantive results to back them up.

You want to intrigue but also amaze.

Your pitch is how you introduce yourself at networking events, informational interviews, on your cover letter, to your friend’s friends. It is how you answer that interview staple, “Tell me about yourself.” It defines your brand and therefore drives your search. The pitch is critical to positioning yourself for the right role at the right level. Be memorable. Build on your strengths. Lead with results.

–Posted by Caroline Ceniza-Levine, Six Figure Start

Written by Phil Stott

July 19, 2010 at 3:39 pm

MBADiversity’s Hiring Event Hits New York This Weekend

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Event Alert! MBADiversity, a global MBA prep program is hosting its New York City Forum this weekend. What’s on offer? Chance at meeting one-on-one with recruiters at the recruiter fair, hearing first person accounts from alumni and a financial aid and scholarship workshop.

If you’re not in the New York area, don’t worry because Vault’s Education Editor Carolyn Wise will be on site to talk to attending recruiters, alumni and students and bring you insider info! So stay tuned for her updates and key thoughts from the event. For those of you who’d like to attend, the details are below:

What: The MBADiversity 2010 NY City Forum

When: Saturday, March 27, 2010; 12:00-5:00p.m.

Where: Grand Hyatt, 109 East 42nd Street, New York, NY 10017

Registration Info: Free, if you’d like to attend the networking lunch, it is $19.95.

Agenda: Introductions/Networking Luncheon, an information session about the graduate school application process featuring an Admissions Panel and an Alumni Panel; an information session about the MBADiversity Fellows Program and Global Immersion Module (GIM) Program; a Financial Aid and Scholarships Workshop; and finally the Recruiter Fair.

For information on which recruiters will be there and other FAQs, visit the MBADiversity blog. For our perspective on the event as well as insider quotes, stay tuned next week on Admit One as well as @VaultMBA!

And remember, the keys to a successful graduate school application as well as a job are few, yet essential: Pitch yourself, Add brand value to your experience and wow them! And of course, network, network, network!

CSR Job Postings Up; More Opportunities for Senior Executives

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If a job in the wide sphere of corporate social responsibility is what delights you, there might be some good news on the horizon. It’s been over a year of cost-cutting, when jobs that had “CSR or the like” in their titles were among the first to be eliminated. Initiatives were hunkered down and sustainability execs took to networking heavily, freelancing consulting projects and seeking out smaller, but greener (ecologically!), outfits for work.

That was 2009 and some of 2008. Now things seem to be, ever so slowly, picking up. A well-analyzed jobs report by Sustainability Recruiting, titled: “The State of the CSR Job Market: Key Findings and Trends“, which compared 819 job postings between 2004 and 2009 by title, shows a 33% uptick in job postings for the last quarter of 2009. This is after successive drops of 61% in 2008 and 68% in 2009, excluding the fourth quarter.

While restricted to findings from the Business for Social Responsibility’s (BSR) CSR Jobs page, the findings are telling for the career field called CSR. Rewind a couple of years ago and CSR was not even a well-searched job field, let alone the buzzword it has become today for students as well as professionals. Another key indicator from the study: CSR is maturing, in that, while overall job postings declined, posts for VP and Directors increased. From the report: “CSR positions are becoming more senior-level, based on analysis of titles. Over the past 2 years, there has been an uptick in postings with Director and Vice President titles. VP titles were not used in postings until 2006.

The report also attempts to distinguish between three types of CSR employers, an important distinction for as nascent a field as social responsibility. This differentiation has its benefits for understanding the job market as well as figuring out where you see yourself best suited. A quick summary of these:

1) Internal: This includes global corporations that usually prefer to fill new positions like CSR internally. This has its merits and demerits. You’re building on the individual’s training and knowledge of the business, but not necessarily gaining CSR-specific expertise. There is also the danger of falling into the trap of greenwashing. I discussed this trend earlier this year, where I cited the handful of companies that are responding to stakeholder demand by instituting eco-officers or chief sustainability officers–all internal transfers.

2) Services: This category would include consultants, thought groups and advocacy organizations, usually member-based. Especially for consulting, last year saw a huge uptick for environmental work, with California reporting that green jobs grew by 5% while overall jobs declined by 1% and further, that environmental consulting made up 45% of all green employment.

3) Independent: These are by far the most popular. This category would include NGOs, non profits, research organizations, and benchmarking firms like RiskMetrics. Public sector entities like the World Bank would also fall under this employer type.

And if you are interested in seeing which employers hired the most number of candidates for CSR-related jobs (also referred to as corporate sustainability, corporate responsibility, sustainability, green officers, etc.), take a look below.

The report also goes on to divide the jobs by city, region, domestic and international, as well as a comparison of actual titles, i.e., CSR vs. sustainability, etc, and recommendations for job seekers. Read the complete report at Got something to add or ask? Leave a comment or follow us on Twitter @VaultCSR!

For more CSR-related career advice and job trends, visit In Good Company!

MBA Candidates See Sustainability As Civic Duty, Not Course Curriculum

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I was at the “Banking is Back” event on Friday, hosted by the Robert Toigo Foundation, where I met several MBA candidates, some of who already knew where they were headed this fall, some waiting, and others who were waitlisted. Almost half of them had a finance background but all of them considered themselves a minority. Here are some of the interesting dialogues I happened to stumble across/participated in at the event:

Keeping in mind an economy that we’re only now starting to recover from, what was in their minds as they looked forward to B-School? One smart alec said, “The hope is that there will be more jobs.” Another more understated attendee said, “Being in finance gives me the basic skills, and regardless of the economy, banks will always be around. Or at least that’s the promise!” As they all went through simulation after simulation of typical Days in the Lives of various banking professionals, it was evident that the economy couldn’t be further away from their minds.

Why Toigo? The general consensus was their emphasis on “high caliber MBA candidates” and their rigorous fellowship which would provide Fellows with internship opportunities and the exposure to be one of the first few to get offered full time positions. Although, these candidates were clearly a motivated bunch. They all mentioned other leadership and minority career advancement organizations like Consortium, INROADS, SEO, MLT, etc.

Although the trickiest question I threw out there was this one: “Would you guys be open to taking a course in sustainable business practices, if one is offered at your school?” After the initial blank stares, they began to open up. And the gist of their responses was a resounding No. But this isn’t necessarily negative. Because here is what followed. They indicated a preference for doing sustainable activities like joining green clubs, organizing ecological drives at school and doing volunteer work as part of their grad school experience.

Sustainable MBA Poll Results

We can take away at least two things from this. 1) The consciousness to do good and be responsible toward their society, community and their planet is there. And it is much more prevalent in their thinking and strategic process that it has been for previous generations. And, 2) That while more and more business schools are introducing CSR course content as the years go by, with MIT the most recent entrant, the demand is not being reciprocated by banks when it comes to recruitment. We discussed this last week as well along with conducting a poll (see left), which showed that most people are evenly divided on the prospects of an MBA in sustainable business practices.

Listening to these high-potential MBA candidates voice their opinion was encouraging. Because although, they unanimously said they did not see the benefit of studying sustainability and CSR, they all emphasized that they’d rather practice than preach. Which is a lesson we can all learn as students, entrepreneurs, employees, senior executives, consumers and conscious business professionals.

Follow our ongoing discussion on Green MBAs on In Good Company, on Vault’s MBA blog Admit One, or if you are Twitter-inclined, follow us @VaultCSR and @VaultMBA!

Written by Aman Singh

March 15, 2010 at 9:01 am

Jobs Are Out There for Sustainable MBA Grads if They’re Willing to Do the Work

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In a recent blog post, Vault’s own Aman Singh addressed the growing sustainable MBA trend and noted that employers did not consider sustainability one of their chief interests. Sustainable business education is “growing indeed, but only as a ‘theme’ or the idea of doing good. Because when these students face recruiters, there aren’t many takers.”

So we asked Vault users: What do you think of the trend towards MBA degrees with a focus on sustainable business practices? While the poll is still open online, I thought I’d give you a snapshot of the responses so far.

Vault Sustainable MBA Poll Results_March 11

It seems to be a pretty even split, with 52 percent saying the sustainable MBA trend is going to die down or out and 48 percent saying that sustainability business education is here to stay. There’s no doubt that MBA students love it and want to pursue sustainability and the green movement as a career. But is that realistic? What will their employment prospects look like?

MBA Podcaster recently published a podcast called Career Opportunities for Green MBAs: Generating Green $$ from the Green Movement that addresses this question. They brought together a few industry insiders and sustainable MBAs to discuss different opportunities.

Katie Kross is associate director of Duke University’s Corporate Sustainability Initiative, and Nicola Acutt is associate dean of the Presidio Graduate School:. They argue that sustainability is going to be a bigger and bigger part of businesses moving forward.

Kross: Sustainability is really the hot topic in the business press these days. Companies in all the different kinds of industries, whether that’s Wal-Mart and its supply chain partners or whether that’s renewable energy companies and Cleantech Venture capital firms or whether that’s the investment community looking at new ways to incorporate environmental and social issues and to investment evaluation. So the interest comes from a lot of different industry sectors and it’s growing across a lot of different types of organization and fields of interests.

Acutt: I have observed a significant shift from what I would call the pioneer stage with the early adopter companies, you know, the Cliff Bars and those types of organizations to really seeing more and more traditional companies showing an interest in our students, and for example Clorox and Travelocity recently posted positions. We see the categories of employers, of our students ranging from consulting firms like Saachi and Saachi or Domani Sustainability Consulting who are building targeted client services and new sustainability then across a range of other sectors like government, nonprofit, education and in public service or public sector organizations from PG&E to Blue Shield, Kaiser, the City of Berkley, EPA, Goodwill, University of California. It’s really across all sectors.

But what happens if you can’t get hired after graduation? Many newly-minted sustainable MBAs are going the entrepreneurial route. Says Acutt: “We have, just in our short history, had 12 startups launched and, five of them in the last two years securing over a million dollars in initial funding.”

If you’re not ready to go into business for yourself just yet, there is still hope. Michael Callahan an MBA and co-founder of Powermundo says that although employers aren’t interested in the degree, itself, they are very interested in “what you do with it.” On getting jobs, he says: “It was because the combination of skills and not just the green MBA. The green MBA was a help, but it’s still being defined, you know, what is a green MBA? You still have to have strong finance skills, marketing, accounting. You still have to have all of that.”

I’m sure “diversify” and “be creative” are pieces of advice that career centers are throwing around a lot these days. But for sustainable MBAs, they ring particularly true. Consider your sustainable skills as a part of a larger whole that includes all your other MBA skills and work experience. In addition, because sustainability is still new to many companies, you may have to create the job before you can fill it. Here’s how to make that happen:

Kross: There were two things that kept coming up over and over again about their job search. The first is the power of informational interviews. So many of those practitioners got their jobs as a direct result of informational interviews, which I know sounds sort of mundane but actually this field of practice is so new and so small that having good relationships with people in the industry can really go a long way towards finding a job opportunity, and many of these positions are not posted anywhere publicly. They’re not on the websites. They’re not doing on-campus recruiting. They are positions that job candidates are essentially writing for themselves based on their relationships and their experience. And the second thing that came up over and over again is how many of these practitioners got their job as a direct result of a project that they worked on while they were a student. So whether that’s a class project or an internship or an independent study research project or some other kind of practical project that they worked on while they were a student, they leverage that directly into a job for themselves.

Good luck!

–Posted by Carolyn Wise, Senior Education Editor,

Will an MBA in Sustainable Business Get You Hired?

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Recruiting season will soon be upon us and so will everyone’s predictions, both calculated and speculative. And in the center of the mayhem will be freshly-minted MBAs. As they approach the last months of their semesters, news has been constantly pouring in about new CSR and sustainability courses being added both as electives and as mandatory classes.

Last week, this gradually burgeoning group added another member: MIT Sloan’s School of Management announced a Certificate of Sustainable Business for their MBA students. It doesn’t take too many guesses to realize that more and more business schools are adding these responsible modules as a response to demand from students and some demand from the business community. However, here is the million-dollar question: Are these new specializations facing equal face time at the time of recruitment? Or are the employers demanding CSR knowledge from their new hires?

graduation ceremony

The WSJ addresses this emerging conundrum today in an aptly titled article: “Sustainability is a Growing Theme.” Growing indeed, but only as a “theme” or the idea of doing good. Because when these students face recruiters, there aren’t many takers. As the article points out, “The effort is being met with both gratitude and skepticism from business schools, which say that despite the emphasis on integrating these hot-button topics into the curriculum, it’s business as usual at recruiting time. Few hiring managers, they say, ask students about corporate-responsibility training or indicate it’s a priority.

What companies are choosing to do instead, is train current employees in environmental footprint and sustainability. This relatively low cost, in-house training, however, is leading to paying mere lip service to sustainability and not addressing it as an essential part of their long term strategy and making it definable in business terms. The companies that have successfully launched sustainability initiatives are the handful that have seen the direct impact on their bottom line and brand awareness like Dow Chemicals and Pepsi.

So, why the demand but not the final appreciation for the new courses? The Journal article quotes Intel’s director of social responsibility strategy and communication, Suzanne Fallender, who is a frequent speaker at business schools, saying that the skills aren’t needed to be hired into a post-M.B.A. job. “”I think we are far off from seeing it [as part of] the job requirements.” And here lies the disconnect. Enthusiasm in the classroom and student demand when not translated into welcoming reception from the recruiters will eventually die down. By sending mixed messages, companies are not only hurting their brand perception but ignoring a key population of environmentally-conscious workers acutely aware of the need for accountability and transparency, and who will increasingly fill the gaps as more boomers retire.

–Posted by Aman Singh, In Good Company

Written by Linda Petock

March 4, 2010 at 3:36 pm

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