Avaya's MBA Search Goes Global

On a hiring rebound, the tech company is also now recruiting abroad. Wherever you are, here's what it looks for in new hires

Lisa Allen serves as manager of MBA recruitment at Avaya (AV ), which designs, builds, and manages communication networks. The Basking Ridge (N.J.) company, which AT&T (T ) and Lucent Technologies (LU ) spun off four-and-a-half years ago, is bouncing back from the technology industry's recent downturn. "We've been on campus the past few years recruiting so that we could position ourselves for when the market opened up," says Allen.

This year, Avaya plans to hire more than 100 MBAs for full-time and summer positions. After recently making a major acquisition in Europe, Avaya has also decided to recruit MBAs at overseas B-schools for the first time.

After seven years of recruiting experience at such companies as Merrill Lynch (MER ), Warner Lambert -- which was taken over by Pfizer (PFE ) -- and Prudential (PRU ), Allen joined Avaya as a campus recruiter in June, 2002. She took over as manager of MBA recruitment in the summer of 2004. She recently spoke with BusinessWeek Online reporter Francesca Di Meglio. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:

Q: How do you decide where to recruit?


We identify the top business schools globally. We look at the rankings from different organizations and look to see where our return on investment has been in the past. We recruit at 20 business schools in the U.S., and we're expanding our recruitment to include international schools in places like Europe.

Q: How would you characterize your relationship with the B-schools?


We value our relationship with the schools. We're working on expanding our presence on campus -- more presentations, judging case competitions, speaking to student organizations, hosting events. We just hosted the Cyberposium at Harvard, where we were a platinum sponsor. That's a great opportunity for us to get to know the students and for them to see who we are and where we are going. The key to our success is maintaining ongoing relationships with students and career services, not only during the recruiting season but throughout the school year.

Q: What positions are you offering MBAs?


Avaya recruits MBAs in all areas of the business -- from product management to corporate finance. Opportunities exist in finance, IT, operations, services, sales, and marketing. They have the opportunity to come on board either as a direct hire or through one of our several leadership rotation programs.

Q: What is the usual process for getting a job at Avaya?


The process begins with an on-campus presentation that provides information on the company and positions available to first- and second-year students in the fall. We have the students submit their résumés through their career services office or Avaya's Web site. We conduct first-round behavioral-based interviews on campus. Then, the second-round interviews, which often require meeting with more than one person, take place on-site at an Avaya location.

Q: What are you looking for in an employee?


We're looking for someone who can really hit the ground running, sees the big picture, and understands the impact of his or her actions on the overall company and strategy.

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