Vault's Careers Blog

Career advice and job search strategies for the modern careerist

Posts Tagged ‘Wall Street

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

Events Lineup: Vault Reports from Internet Week, New York

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This week promises to be high on event coverage as well as new products (Apple announced their new iPhone) and collaborations (Vault will host featured blog posts from the 2010 Class of Climate Corps, EDF’s sustainability-focused internship program). Below is a quick lineup of all the event coverage you can look forward to.

Today: Conference Board’s webcast on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Future of Integrated Reporting

The panel includes Mike Wallace, the director of the sustainability reporting framework with GRI; Intel’s Director of CSR Strategy and Communications, Suzanne Fallender; Doug Kangos, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers National Professional Services unit; and Rina Levy, a ESG analyst with Bloomberg. The topic: the future of integrated reporting, and how much data is too much? Coming up: Is integrated reporting, i.e., meshing the traditional annual report, which focuses on financial metrics, with the other annual report that discusses CSR initiatives, the future?

Tuesday and Wednesday: World Innovation Forum

Already underway, the forum will host top thinkers and strategists from the corporate world as well as academia. Some of them include Harvard Business School professor and head of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, Michael Porter; Xerox CEO Ursula Burns; Seventh Generation cofounder and CSR advocate, Jeffrey Hollender [See his exclusive interview with Vault: “Take the ‘S’ out of CSR”]; and Executive Editor of Joel Makower. Vault’s News and Commentary team will be at the Bloggers’ Hub to bring you live coverage from the forums. Also, stay tuned for their tweets @VaultCareers or follow the hastag #wif10.

Thursday: The PepsiCo and ThinkSocial #Promise Conference

Pepsi's Sustainability Challenge

Part of the lineup for Internet Week in New York, this is a unique conference that promises to pair an unpopular pair: sustainability and social media. Featuring marketing executives from PepsiCo, Timberland, GE, Nokia and MTV, and moderators from Fast Company, TED and GOOD, the full day event will cover a wide variety of topics including Pepsi’s Dream Machine, “Promise” presentations by companies like GE, Timberland and Pepsi, all of which will discuss their observations and lessons of pursuing socially responsible commitments using social media.

To round off the mash of corporate perspective, media outlets, individuals who cover CSR, social media and public interest organizations will weigh in. Vault’s CSR Editor Aman Singh will be at the conference to bring you live coverage In Good Company, as well as on Twitter @VaultCSR.

Friday: Hot and Bothered Breakfast: Why It’s Time to Change The Gender Ratio in New Media & Tech

To regular readers of this space, this will sound familiar. In Good Company recently discussed a NPR report that blamed the lack of women experts on their lack of aggressiveness and narcissistic personality. This panel will discuss “why women are present and accounted for across the new media and tech space— just not at the top, or on panels, or at conferences, or in magazine articles…or, crucially, in VC money.” Culminating Internet Week in New York City, the panel promises to be controversial, if not revelatory. We will be at the panel to bring you live coverage In Good Company, besides tweeting @VaultCSR.

Goldman Sachs: Why Reputation Matters

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Goldman protest

AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

[I]t strikes me that a lot of people dislike Goldman Sachs, and they really don’t understand what Goldman Sachs does, but they just know that they dislike them […] And then there are people who know what Goldman Sachs actually does, and they dislike them for different reasons.

–David Gregory on Meet the Press, Sunday, March 25, 2010. (Click the link for the full transcript of the show.)

Step back for a moment and imagine that your company is in Goldman’s position right now: Universally reviled; Accused of betting against not only its own customers but the entire economic wellbeing of the country; At the center of an international political storm (one example: the bank has become a talking point in the UK general election); So unpopular that you can’t find political support even among the most pro-business members of the opposition.

So, given that that’s your company, what do you do? Do you go out on a limb and further expose yourself in the public eye, or do you find a way to control the damage to your firm’s image and regroup, hoping it will all blow over?

By now, it should be obvious which path Goldman has chosen. The megabank seems to be playing a game of chicken with the government—actions that, as Frank Rich pointed out this weekend—may actually be handing the government the leverage it needs to pass reform that will handicap not only Goldman, but all of its neighbors on Wall Street. Which should all but destroy any last shreds of popularity it has left even amongst its peer group.

All of that raises serious questions over the culture at the firm—something that, as has been noted many times before, comes from the top down. While there’s no doubt that the firm is a success, the image and reputation it has cultivated along the way makes it one of the least celebrated winners in history. And that’s a problem—both when it comes to retaining customers and in attracting and retaining talent over the long term.

Last Friday, Vault Finance Editor Derek Loosvelt published some of the preliminary findings from Vault’s upcoming annual banking survey. Given the current state of affairs at Goldman, the following nuggets from people within the finance industry seemed particularly apposite:

  • Percentage of respondents who say firm culture was the single most important factor in deciding to accept their firm’s offer over others: 35
  • Percentage who say prestige was the most important factor: 18
  • Percentage who say compensation was the most important: 9

Bear in mind those figures are from people already working in Goldman’s industry. If they’re to be believed, the issue of compensation—including those bonuses that we keep hearing about—isn’t enough to attract and retain top candidates. But culture and prestige are: and Goldman is in the process of squandering its reputation for both in record time.

Backing those figures up, meanwhile, is a recent Vault homepage poll, which found that some 25 percent of respondents would be less likely to consider working for Goldman in light of the SEC investigation. And that’ in addition to the 10 percent who told us that they wouldn’t have considered taking a job offer from the company in the first place. Of course, that still leaves a majority of respondents who are willing to overlook the allegations of wrongdoing—at least in this instance—to take a job at the firm. Should the negative publicity the firm is attracting continue, however, that number would likely drop.

While it would be a stretch to say that the current climate is going to be enough to bring Goldman down, it should serve nonetheless as a cautionary tale for anyone seeking to lead a business—or even looking for a job right now. If your company—or one you’re thinking about working for—has the kind of reputation that Goldman is in the process of forging for itself, attracting and retaining top employees becomes that much harder. And without them, the entire house of cards starts to tumble.

Undercover Boss Hits Wall Street: Bank of America Edition

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It’s official: That piece of celluloid that CBS calls Undercover Boss wants to bring it to Wall Street.

Of course, we at In The Blackwere privy to this news months ago and, in case you missed them, here are two treatments for Wall Street episodes of UB that we came across a while back (episode #1: Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and episode #2: JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon). And below, to whet your chief-executive-stooping-to-blue-collar-level-and-jerking-tears-to-the-sounds-of-electronic-violins appetite yet again, here is a third treatment of a soon-to-be-produced spin-off series starring the chief executives of the most prominent financial institutions in the country:

Brian Moynihan

Episode #3: Brian Moynihan, CEO Bank of America

We open with Moynihan giving a moving 45-second motivational speech on the first tee of Pebble Beach which B-Money and a few other top brass at BofA Merrill have been allowed to play a week before the U.S. Open. B-Money will explain how difficult it’s been to follow in K-Dawg’s (Kenny Lewis’s) wing tips—flash to clip of beleaguered Lewis eating with his family at Charlotte area Hooters restaurant—and how he has not slept more than eight hours a night since taking over the chief post and receiving a $4 million per year pay raise. After B-Money tops the ball and begins his backswing on his second drive, we’ll cut to his first undercover assignment: as an M&A managing director working out of Merrill’s Los Angeles office (not too far from Pebble Beach, which should provide cost efficiencies and thus be appreciated by network in light of overshooting budget in Hooters episode).

We first see B-Money driving in midnight blue Range Rover dressed in Armani from neck to toe. After handing over keys of Rover to valet, B (in a close-up) greases maître d’ of West Hollywood Italian joint (littered with B-level actors). B-Money greets client: elderly owner of leading aboveground swimming pool business. They’re shown to back-room booth. In between pasta and fish, B deflects accusations that K-Dawg did anything crooked during his rein (insert another clip of Lewis, this time walking streets of Charlotte at night, alone; music choice TBD, but thinking Seger or Eddie Money). After three Fuzzy Navels, B pitches various takeover targets to client, both financial and strategic. Some ideas sound ludicrous (“Google’s looking to diversify”) and others, if undertaken would result in several of the owner’s relatives losing their jobs. The executive balks at all of B’s suggestions aside from “a great gig up in the Hills at Billy Joel’s place” and on the deck of Joel’s pad (sparsely-populated with C-level actors) B-Money admits to camera he never knew how hard it could be to put a deal together, or how smoggy it really was in LaLa land.

B’s second assignment is as a BofA HR rep in Hong Kong, specializing in benefits administration. B will dramatically lose his job in 39 minutes when it’s discovered he doesn’t speak Mandarin, has no idea what the difference is between an HMO and PPO, and does not have a valid passport. Sipping a Tsingtao in first class 35,000 feet over the Pacific, B vows to eat more Chinese food and “really read the back of those fortunes in those sugar cookies.”

B-Money’s final undercover assignment is as BofA CEO, Brian Moynihan. Since few people had heard of him before he landed his current job and no one knows what he looks like, it won’t be difficult for B to go undercover as himself. We show B, clad in Callaway from hat to spikes, coming full circle: back at Pebble Beach, entertaining institutional investors. In a panoramic shot, B-Money gracefully hits a 9-iron off the par three seventh and lands on the green two feet from the hole (make sure we budget all day to get this; B has a well-known hook) and while ball rolls even closer B-Money turns to the camera for the money shot/closer: “If I’ve learned anything during the past week, and I’m not saying I have, it’s that the key to this gig is follow-through.”

Fade to black.

–Posted by Derek Loosvelt, In The Black

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!

Four Tips: How to Work on Your Emotions for Career Success

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AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

This guy is interested in a fast-paced risk-taking career in trading but admits he’s not the coolest cat in the alley when it comes to dealing with high-pressure situations. He can’t bluff his way through a friendly game of seven-card stud, can’t watch Man. U. without eating the ends of his nails, and tosses and turns like a four-year old afraid of the dark the night before the big exam. So it would seem that he should chuck in the 400-count Egyptian cotton and ditch his dream of making it big in the world of derivatives, shorts and options, right?


What he should do is this:


That’s right, even controlling your emotions, like times tables and state capitals, can be learned (though, certainly, working on your stress-dealing skills might not be as easy as remembering where the heck Montpelier and Bismarck sit on the map).

And here’s how:

#1: Identify your weaknesses. Take the aforementioned wannabe trader for example. He has already taken step one, outlining his weaknesses, citing his “nervous/stressed mindset.”

#2: What do you want? After identifying your weaknesses, you need to communicate, if only to yourself, what you want. In this example, the wannabe trader wants a good poker face, a calmer countenance when the chips are on the line, and the ability to put out of his mind an imminently stressful situation that will occur sometime in the near future.

#3: Put yourself in situations where you have to work on your weaknesses. To keep this example going, the guy should engage in experiences and events where he’ll be forced to bluff, compete, and be tested. So, he might play more poker (though I do not advocate doing this for money) or watch his favorite football side and try not to yell at the TV or get excited or sign up for a an exam where he has to study. (He could also get some of his buds together and play this game, one of my favorites as a kid and one that I challenge anyone to play in a calm, quiet state.)

#4. Repeat #3 again and again and again.

–Posted by Derek Loosvelt, In the Black

Extra Insight: What if Women Ran Wall Street?

Will Public Perception of Wall Street Alter Candidates’ Career Choices?

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Goldman Sachs
With most of the difficult work involved in reforming the U.S. health care system behind them, Democrats can now focus on Big Issue #2: financial regulatory reform.

Reform of the financial/banking system had been slid to the back burner but is now shaping up to be a, if not the major rallying point come mid-term elections this fall—which coincides with the sweet spot of big investment banks’ campus recruiting season. This means that some of these firms will likely be spending serious amounts of time, energy and money to attempt to dispel rumors and set records straight and artificially sweeten the not-so-sweet past when they descend upon undergraduate and MBA institutions after Labor Day.

Currently, as shown in a recent Bloomberg poll, the American people are none too happy with the big Wall Street firms, with 57 percent looking “unfavorably” or “very unfavorably” at the country’s largest financial institutions and about 66 percent looking unfavorably at the executives who run said firms. (It was also shown that two-thirds of Americans have an unsavory view of Congress.)

While banks’ PR outfits and insiders work overtime this fall, would-be investment bankers from some of the top schools across the country (aka candidates for some of the highest-paying entry-level jobs in the land) will be faced with some difficult questions, including this one: Should I go into banking at all?

With public perception of the banking industry at a low, if not all-time low, it’s likely that this year decisions like Goldman or McKinsey, Morgan Stanley or BCG, and J.P. Morgan or Bain will be a whole lot easier than they had been in the past.

–Posted by Derek Loosvelt, In the Black

Written by Phil Stott

March 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm

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