Making It in Mercer's "Meritocracy"

The management consultant's William Tiffany discusses how the outfit brings in -- and advances -- new recruits and the skills it seeks

William Tiffany is a senior associate with Mercer Management Consulting, a division of Mercer Inc., under the parent company of Marsh & McLennan (MMC ). Tiffany joined the company's Dallas branch in 2003 after earning an MBA from Southern Methodist University's Cox School of Business. Mercer's consulting services span human resources, investment, management, and identity and brand consulting. MBAs can work within any of these divisions.

Tiffany says Mercer's size and mentoring program make it a great company for MBAs looking to gain experience working face to face with clients. He recently spoke with BusinessWeek Online reporter Jeffrey Gangemi. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation:

Q: Where do you do most of your recruiting?


We have a core group of schools that we target for MBA hires. Those include the Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business, the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, and Stanford Graduate School of Business.

For our Texas office, we go to the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business and SMU Cox School of Business. For our offices in Montreal and Toronto, we go to the University of Western Ontario Richard Ivey School of Business as well.

Q: When do you go to campus?


We try to make it to campus by mid-September at the latest. We like to precede our first visit to campus with a welcome letter to students in an attempt to find those who are interested in a consulting career. When we arrive on campus, we hold an information session to discuss career opportunities and our summer associate program.

Q: How many MBAs does Mercer hire in a given year?


We only hire about 15 summer associates and just over 20 full-time employees. We're looking to expand our recruiting over the next few years for all of our main offices nationwide.

Q: What kind of training and mentoring do you offer to associates?


We have a fairly robust training and development process that associates go through when they join the firm. Associates go through what we call "toolkit" training, where they gain experience within a variety of case-based and simulated case learning environments. Associates will provide feedback, develop work plans, deliverables, and recommendations to the partner working on the case.

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