Big Traits for Big Blue

IBM recruiter Michael Riegel says it seeks MBAs who do great work and possess that intangible mix of humility, respect, and wisdom

Michael Riegel is the director of express services for IBM Global Services (IBM ), a division of the technology giant that builds and markets business and information technology services to small and midsize business clients from Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Before joining IBM's Global Services division in April, 2004, Riegel led the marketing of IBM's Net Generation business unit for about two years. He previously worked in the new product startup division at InterAmerica Technologies, a privately held software concern in McLean, Va. For a brief time, Riegel also was an economic adviser in the U.S. Congress.

To make it at IBM, Riegel says, new MBAs have to deliver great work and respect to their co-workers. Riegel recently spoke with BusinessWeek Online reporter Jeffrey Gangemi about working at Big Blue. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:

Q: What makes IBM a great place to work?


There are three things that make IBM a standout place to work: The high level of skill and experience of the people we employ, our commitment to being the leader in every market we serve, as well as our focus on doing things that matter to the world.

We have supercomputers that are working on genetic mapping; we're working to better equip emergency medical personnel after 9/11; we've got Nobel-prize-winning scientists doing cancer research, among other initiatives.

Q: What roles do MBAs fill within IBM?


We hire MBAs into a variety of different functions in business consulting services, strategy and change, and IT consulting practices. We hire finance majors into a rotational program, and strong marketing MBAs get the opportunity to complete a leadership-development program in their function. We also find that MBAs make good business-development professionals.

Q: Where do you do most of your recruiting?


We recruit heavily from the University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business. We also hire MBAs from Emory University Goizueta Business School, MIT Sloan School of Management, Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, Thunderbird Garvin School of International Management, University of Pennsylvania Wharton School, and a bunch of others.

Q: What do you look for in an MBA?


We look for MBAs that come from a school with a good reputation. We look at their past history to see if they can survive in a complex company. Then, we try to determine if the applicant has the communication and softer skills to be able to navigate a place as big as IBM successfully.

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