Recruiter Q&A: IBM's Deanna Laird

Photograph by Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images

This is part of an ongoing series of Q&As with recruiters from top MBA employers. This week we bring you edited responses sent to Bloomberg Businessweek’s Erin Zlomek from Deanna Laird, university recruiting leader for IBM North America.

Do you have a full-time hiring program that targets newly minted MBAs?

We have several. There is a consulting recruitment program for consultants interested in careers in every industry. We run a similar program for MBAs who want to work as financial analysts within IBM Finance. Our Summit program focuses on attracting MBAs for client-facing consultative sales positions. And our General Manager Leadership Program is geared to a small group of MBAs who come to IBM to be trained for senior leadership roles around the world.

What areas of your business do you expect will take on many of your new MBA hires over the next two to three years? Do you expect the total number of MBA hires to increase or decrease this year?

IBM Global Business Services hires the most MBAs, targeting new hires for senior consulting roles in cities across the U.S. and elsewhere.

The second-largest talent pool is for financial analysts, who participate in a rotational program that takes them through areas such as financial planning and accounting.

Our MBA recruiting has been steady.

What percentage of your MBA interns typically receive job offers at the end of their internships?

A large majority of interns receive offers, and we focus on internship opportunities to fill positions. A good example is the Extreme Blue program, where we put business and technical interns together on small project teams alongside seasoned mentors. That program is a strong pipeline for the general management and consulting programs.

Tell me about your ideal MBA hire.

We prefer to hire MBAs with at least two years of work experience that relates to the area of the company where they want to work. For example, we tend to hire people into our consulting health-care practice who have consulting experience in pharma or biomedicine, but we also consider people with project management skills. For our finance rotational program, candidates can work in financial services within industry, and we look for financial reporting and accounting experience. The General Manager Leadership Program requires five or more years of applicable industry or functional experience. Across all our programs, we look for strong analytical and leadership skills, and prior international experience is always a plus.

What should a job candidate know about your company before he or she takes part in an on-campus interview?

We expect candidates to understand our business, especially the unit they are applying for. We like people who know about our clients and key services and how that matches up with their interests and skills. Whether it’s our Smarter Planet initiative, or other new areas like analytics or cloud computing, we are eager to recruit people who can articulate what they expect to achieve at IBM.

Why should an MBA student want to work for your company? What’s different or unique about the culture, the opportunities, or the work itself?

One of the main reasons MBAs chose us is to tap into the wealth of career opportunities, because you can constantly reinvent yourself without having to leave the company. Through business consulting, technology and R&D expertise, we are working with governments and companies to build systems that create less traffic, safer food, cleaner water, and healthier populations. When you combine that with progressive workforce policies and a history of innovation, IBM attracts MBAs because they want to do meaningful, exciting work.

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