Making the Grade at Goldman

Aaron Marcus, the investment bank's chief of campus recruiting, says in its consensus-driven culture, you must be persuasive to succeed

MBAs hoping to land a coveted job at Goldman Sachs (GS ) should know about Aaron Marcus, who heads America's Campus Recruiting at Goldman Sachs in New York, and what he and his colleagues look for when they evaluate recruits. An 11-year Goldman Sachs veteran, Marcus has worked in three different divisions on three different continents. In 2000, he helped the operations department identify optimal employees, and that project evolved into his current position.

He recently spoke with BusinessWeek Online reporter Francesca Di Meglio. Edited excerpts of their conversation follow:

Q: What kinds of jobs are available to MBAs?

A:

Undergraduates are hired at the analyst level and MBAs at the associate level. I'm going to guess [that we conduct] somewhere in the vicinity of 1,500 to 2,000 first-round interviews at our target campuses. We will hire about 200 MBAs globally from the class of 2005.

Q: How do you decide where to recruit?

A:

We target what we consider to be the best business schools, where we'll find the best students with the right skill set and fit. It's also a function of where we have a large number of passionate alumni who will support what's primarily an alumni-driven recruiting effort.

Q: What's your strategy once you arrive on campus?

A:

Our strategy is to make students aware of what Goldman Sachs can offer the average MBA, which is the best post-business-school education one can get. We strive to communicate the power of our brand and culture. We have a differentiating culture that emphasizes meritocracy, integrity, commitment to excellence, and the best client services and teamwork.

We emphasize teamwork in the recruiting space. Teamwork, to us, doesn't simply mean offering to help other people in need or saying yes when asked to help. At Goldman, teamwork means taking a passionate interest in facilitating the success of other people with whom you work.

We also know that students value the ability to hear from the senior-most leadership of an organization that's trying to recruit them. This year, we were successful in having close to 90% of our management committee appear at various campuses around the world.

Q: Are the packages you're offering now more competitive than the recent past?

A:

I trust that Goldman Sachs has a view on compensation that allows us to be as competitive as we need to be in the marketplace. We don't publicly comment on our compensation packages.

Q: What skills do MBAs need to compete in today's marketplace?

A:

We emphasize analytical skills that give you the ability to solve problems, a strong work ethic, self-motivation, the willingness to seek and take on responsibility, a commitment to the team, and leadership. We're looking for people who have good communication skills -- both written and oral. When you work in an environment like Goldman Sachs, which has a consensus-driven culture, you must be persuasive to succeed.

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