Farewell and Thank you to MBA CSEA President

MBACSEA-Day2-217As Damian Zikakis, Director of Career Services at the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, concludes his second term as President of the MBA CSEA Board of Directors, we wanted to take this time to thank him and reflect on his service and contributions.

Damian has seen the organization through many changes, growing pains and milestones, including…

  • Record attendance at our International conferences in Asia and Europe and continued growth at our Global Conference
  • Brand new Regional Forums in cities such as London and San Francisco
  • Ongoing webinars that pushed the envelope in both size and scope
  • A Vendor Standards Compliance Program to ensure our members that technology providers are producing Standards-compliant reports
  • A new partnership with AACSB to expand and enhance employment data collection and research
  • Expansion of staffing resources with the addition of our Administrative Assistant and Standards Consultant
  • Increased knowledge and thought leadership across the industry

This kind of growth requires a strong leader and continuous focus on results. Below are just a few reflections some of the board members have about Damian:

“Damian, as President of the MBA CSEA board you have been a great conciliator. I never saw you losing your composure during our discussions and you always found a way to steer our group towards a constructive solution. I am really glad that you will continue working with us!”

“Damian has been amazing to work with.  He’s fun to hang out with, great to talk things through with when there are issues and he’s always willing to help.  He will be missed as President.”

“Damian is a natural leader who puts a great deal of thought and effort into the decisions he makes. He always encourages us to consider all perspectives and stakeholders before taking action. He has been a pleasure to work with.”

DZikakisbowtie“The best dressed president who rocks a bow tie!”

Damian, we appreciate everything you have done for the organization and look forward to your continued service. And, keep rockin’ the bow tie!


How MBA CSEA got me more money, more time and more staff. (Or: In my day, we didn’t have AUP.)

MBACSEA-Day2-180by: Jamie Belinne, Assistant Dean, Rockwell Career Center
C.T. Bauer College of Business, University of Houston

MBA CSEA President and Founder Jamie Belinne reflects on MBA CSEA’s roots and how far we’ve come.

When I first got into MBA career services back in the early 90s, it was a fairly small, but growing community of frustrated and overworked professionals whose lives were dominated by unrealistic expectations from Deans, unreasonable survey questions from the media, and giant MBA recruiting budgets.  So you’re probably thinking, “not much has changed except the recruiting budgets.”  But you’re wrong.

Have you ever said to your kids, “When I was your age, I had to go to the library and check microfiche, so don’t complain about your wifi problems.”?   That’s how I feel when people complain about the challenges of MBA career services today.

Let me tell you about walking to school uphill both ways (with bricks tied to our feet for warmth) prior to MBA CSEA …

When I first got to UT-Austin in 1992, they handed me a team of two people, one of whom was a faculty spouse placement with no work experience and the other was a full-time actor/yoga instructor.  We served 900 full-time MBAs and 300 campus recruiters.  Oh, and we were doing resume drops manually with weekly FedEx shipments of resumes to employers.  The entire process was manual.  (Yay!  Lots of late night bonding time for the team!)  Every rankings media outlet asked different questions about our outcomes, and we never knew what they would ask, so most of the time the data they wanted didn’t even exist.  So for many schools, (not mine, of course, right?) the Dean or Communications Director would just . . . make something up!  <gasp!>  And the invented number became your new baseline to beat in future data collections.  (Yay!  Manual data collection, too!!)  And if the real number wasn’t as good as the invented number the following year, and if coincidentally your school dropped a place or two in the rankings, then guess what position was blamed?  That’s right.  Career center directors around the country were constantly being fired as sacrificial lambs to the media rankings gods just prior to satisfaction surveys being sent to graduating classes.  (“Yes, we know our school was imperfect, but it was clearly career services’ fault, so we fired them all and fixed the problem.  Remember that when you complete your satisfaction surveys that help us in the rankings!”)

The first few gatherings of career center directors in the early days before MBA CSEA reminded me of what it must have been like during the advent of a new religion being formed.  The 30 or so schools in the Top 20 (you know who you are), had annual meetings, but for most schools, it was unofficial meetings in dark corners at NACE, AACSB or GMAC to compare notes and provide emotional support.  We were all like-minded, but we needed to carry our messages of consistency, transparency, professionalism, ethics and accountability to the masses (or at least to the Deans and the rankings).  NACE turned us away, because they didn’t see a real need for what we were doing.  (Seriously, it was so much like “No room at the Inn” that I just have to go back to my new religion analogy.)

Fortunately, both GMAC and AACSB saw value in what we wanted to accomplish, and they were wonderful partners in helping us organize, focus and then promote our message to their members and the world (or at least the media).  They even helped us host our first few conferences and hired the consultant that walked us through the incorporation process.  We wouldn’t be where we are now without the support both groups provided us in the early days.

Fast forward more than 20 years and it’s a brand new profession, whether or not you realize it.  It may seem extreme to say that MBA CSEA has done for MBA career services and recruitment what the internet has done for my kids’ homework, but I’m sticking to that story.  The Standards for reporting and the AUP process have given me the legitimacy and authority to have more autonomy and resources to collect and analyze our employment data completely and accurately.  Nobody messes with my numbers, because now somebody is (finally) paying attention to how schools all do this.

The CSEA benchmarking reports have allowed me to grow my staff levels and my budgets, because I can show HR and the Provost’s Office how our staffing and spending compares to other schools.  But most importantly, we’re no longer having secret meetings in dark corners of other groups’ events.  We are a recognized and respected profession with three annual conferences around the world and a strong organization to support us.  How cool is that?  When I talk to the founders of the group, we’re all thrilled, and somewhat amazed, that this has come as far as it has.

I used to spend hours agonizing and researching how to help students who wanted to work in specific areas of the world where I had no experience or expertise.  Now I can e-mail a member from that region to ask for their advice – and they’re happy to share their ideas with me!  I love that when a department chair surprises me with a new degree program to support (that never happens, right?), I can call up friends around the country to see how they’re marketing and placing that degree program at their schools.  (Or sometimes I can just sit on the phone with them and cry or laugh, depending on how far I’ve fallen into complete hysteria.)  Best of all, the organization provides not only a great resource for recruiting new leaders in my organization, but also an ideal way to train my new hires.  And all of this is while we’re networking with employers and career services professionals to learn best practices that make my life easier and my efforts more effective.  And I haven’t even mentioned the networking benefits of karaoke!

By the way, nobody ever asked me to hire a yoga instructor to do MBA career counseling again, because they take the work we do way too seriously now.*  So, thanks to MBA CSEA, we all lived happily ever after (except for the recruiting budgets, which would still be nice to have back at their 1990s levels).

*(Note to yoga instructors: I’m not disrespecting you.  I’m a former aerobics instructor (Yay 1980s!).  But seriously, that was the only paid work experience the guy had.)

Not enough time to deliver your MBA career curriculum? Low student attendance at workshops? Use a Slingshot!

Isabella PinucciBy: Isabella Pinucci, SDA Bocconi School of Management

This is one of the reasons I have been crossing the Atlantic every June for the past three years to attend the MBA CSEA Global Conference: to be inspired by the creativity and resourcefulness of fellow career service practitioners.

This great session delivered by Julia Zupko of the Yale School of Management impressed all attendees, who left their business cards to receive additional info about the ‘Slingshot’ project.  With 650 full-time MBA students, Julia and her team have been experiencing lately some “pain points” in their career curriculum delivery: time and facilities constraints, decreasing attendance, lack of confirmation/ measurement of effective learning. Sounds familiar? (Yes, I feel that pain too!)

And here is their Slingshot solution: a hybrid career curriculum. Julia realized that students prefer on-demand learning tools they can access 24/7, plus some interactive live sessions with career experts where they can apply and customize what they learned to their individual situation.

The Yale team created a series of videos which illustrate the fundamentals of career management, from CV’s and cover letters to competency-based interviews. The videos are entirely home made but look absolutely professional, featuring students, professors, recruiters and career advisors as actors and speakers. At the end of each video module, students take a test to check their learning, and when successful they can attend a live lab. This way students have all the flexibility they need to master the curriculum, and career advisors get to spend more quality time with them.

That was a big project – it took 7 months for the team to complete it – but I bet it was worth the effort. It would be interesting to measure the results a couple of years down the line. Brilliant, innovative and inspirational. Brava Julia!

The Effect of the Brexit on Career Services

LBerkowitzby: Lara Berkowitz, Executive Director – Career Centre, London Business School

I thought 2007/2008 might be the defining moment in my career services career, but now I am helming a career services ship through the Brexit storm. Although the word uncertainty can send a frisson of nervous energy through any Director, what is happening in the UK at the moment is also a strangely exhilarating front row seat to history.

At the moment, the situation here is really a moving feast with just one week elapsing since the epic vote. Uncertainty creates short-term shocks, but it is much too early to know what the real impact will be.  There is this odd period at the moment where absolutely nothing has changed in reality yet behavioural economics have taken over and there is complete uncertainty. Next come the negotiations. Still no certain change. It is only at the point negotiations end and decisions are made – which could be more than 2 years from now – that certainty will return. As career services professionals, that is daunting but exciting, and forces us to practice what we preach to students trying to navigate a VUCA world.

The 2-year countdown may not even start until we get some political stability – as I write this Boris Johnson has just pulled out of the Prime Minister race! Feels like House of Cards come to life. So for now, we are focused on keeping students engaged and resilient while trying to get as much accurate market intelligence as we can.

From the employer side there is very little, if any, formal statement at the moment. Thankfully there are no reports of rescinded offers, although some late ad hoc recruitment processes (on top of an already robust year) have been put on hold. It is possible we won’t have any further concrete information until September as we start to see how the Autumn recruitment calendar is building and what is happening with offers for summer interns.

Frankly, I think most employers were genuinely shocked. As of June 30, a rolling poll of organisations conducted by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Professional Development) showed that 56.38% of 1,880 respondents answered “Not at all – it took us by surprise” to the question: “How prepared was your organisation for the “leave” decision in the UK’s EU Referendum”. Only 10.11% were “very prepared with a contingency plan in place” while 33.51% had just “discussed possible implications.”

On the student side, we are proud to have a truly multi-cultural community with 92% international students on the MBA. There are no immediate changes to the immigration status of current and prospective EU students, and while this issue will take some time to resolve, I am hopeful that the ability to maintain the rich diversity of the UK’s higher ed institutions and workforce will be at the top of the list of negotiations. As for those students still seeking employment, we are focused on standard advice regarding career transitions during times of uncertainty – stay in the moment, be proactive, be flexible.

So it truly is too early to tell and thankfully there have been no knee-jerk reactions yet from employers or students. As a School, we just celebrated our 50th anniversary and are feeling especially agile, having adapted to and thrived on many political, social and economic changes over these last 50 years.

The Importance of Volunteers

socialmediapicby: Megan Hendricks, Executive Director, MBA CSEA

As our annual business meeting and Global Conference comes to a close and we near the end of our fiscal year, we always take this time to think back on what we’ve accomplished as an association. Taking a look at our 2015/2016 Annual Report, we’ve done a lot!

26622046262_12a62168a4_kWe hosted three major conferences on three continents, with over 600 combined attendees – in addition to three Regional Forums and 10 webinars. We conducted three major research projects, partnered with GMAC on the Corporate Recruiters Survey, maintained and promoted the Standards for Reporting MBA Employment Data and continued our partnership with AACSB for employment data collection. Our online community is thriving with 700 members and weekly discussions, and we recently launched a mobile app for the community. We awarded the Mel Penn New Member Service Award to three hard-working individuals, increased our social media footprint, and launched a new Ambassador Club to continue to grow our membership.

MBACSEA 2016 Picture Conor McCabe Photography

None of this would have been possible without our volunteers. When we say volunteers are the lifeblood of the association, that’s an understatement! 170 people devoted their time and talent to this alliance during the past year, going above and beyond the daily responsibilities of their full-time jobs to contribute to the organization they love. I am constantly in awe of the amount of work and dedication our volunteers put in day in and day out, and their importance to the organization cannot be underestimated. From the Committee Chairs who manage large and small teams to execute major programs and events, to the people who help with on-site registration at the conferences – each and every person is an integral part of the team, without whom we would not be able to function.

MBACSEA-Day2-70I often receive comments about how passionate I am about the association and the work I do, to which I respond: “How can I not be?” When I look around me at the collective knowledge, experience, talent and passion our volunteers are putting in, how can I not respond with the same amount of passion and dedication?

Put quite simply, you all inspire me. Thank you for your time and effort. Thank you to the MBA CSEA Family.


Highlights from the GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey

Every year the Graduate Management Admission Council® (GMAC®) has partnered with MBA CSEA, EFMD, and universities around the world to conduct the Corporate Recruiters Survey. This annual survey asks employers who recruit from and/or hire graduate business school students about actual hiring outcomes for the past year, hiring projections for the coming year, expected salary offers for new hires, recruiting practices, sought-after job skills, and more.

Recently, Rebecca Estrada-Worthington, GMAC’s survey manager in charge of survey coordination, discussed results from this year’s survey in June at both the MBA CSEA conference in Atlanta, GA and GMAC’s Annual Conference in Washington, DC.

Here are some of the highlights from this year’s survey.

Employment Trends

Employer demand for recent business school graduates remains strong. This year, nearly 9 in 10 employers (88%) plan to hire recent MBA graduates, up from 80 percent that actually hired MBAs in 2015. Salaries remain strong as well—the median starting base salary that employers in the United States expect to offer recent MBA graduates is US$105,000, up from US$100,000 in 2015.


Employer Demand for Non-MBA Business Master’s

This year’s survey also asked employers to identify other types of non-MBA business master’s graduates that they target for recruitment and hiring beyond the graduates of master’s programs in accounting, finance, and management whom they traditionally recruit. Findings show that 59 percent of employers specifically recruit candidates from one or more of these business master’s programs. Graduates of the following programs were actively targeted by a quarter or more of employers: Master in IT and Management Systems (32%), Master in Supply Chain Management (27%), Master in Data Analytics (26%), and Master in Marketing (24%). You can read more analysis of these findings on pages 22-23 of this year’s Corporate Recruiters Survey report.

Talent Identification

Another interesting finding from this year’s survey focuses on traits that employers seek when evaluating recent graduates as potential new hires for their companies. Among 12 traits that survey respondents were asked to rank as most important, the trait that ranked highest overall was fit with company culture, followed by the ability to work in and build strong teams, and ability to make an impact. This finding raises two questions that job-seeking business school graduates should think about and decide for themselves as they prepare to embark on their job search:

  • What type of company culture would they find most desirable to work in, and which companies would be the best match?
  • During the recruitment process, how can they demonstrate to potential employers that they are able to work well in teams and make an impact in their chosen job function and career?

Be sure to download this year’s Corporate Recruiters Summary Report to see more detailed findings on salaries, hiring demand by industry, internships, and more. For the full report and corresponding infographic, visit gmac.com/corporaterecruiters.

Also, be sure to utilize the many resources GMAC makes available for you:

  • com/researchinsights: GMAC’s research staff contribute articles on a regular basis to Research Insights, a new web hub featuring additional coverage of survey findings and other timely, relevant, and data-driven insights on trends in graduate management education. Topics cover every step of the student lifecycle—from candidates’ first consideration of business school to alumni career progression.
  • Interactive Data Reports: Participating schools and survey respondents receive an interactive data report that allows them to explore the data in more detail. (To participate in GMAC research, visit com/surveysignup)




When in Rome…

A Day in the Life of a Talent Recruitment Manager

BBeavisBy Blair Beavis, EMEA Early Talent Recruitment Manager, Johnson & Johnson

I am definitely not a morning person. So when the alarm went off at 0430 the other Monday morning it was a real shock to the system!

The reason for this rude awakening was a very early flight to Rome for our EMEA Talent Acquisition Leadership Team meeting. This was my third trip to this beautiful city but this time the location was a lot less inspiring. There would be no views of the majestic Coliseum, the beautiful fountains or the traditional piazzas, instead we would be in the uninspiring but functional surroundings of a nearby airport hotel where the meeting would take place. On the plus side it was only a short commute from the terminal.

At the beginning of 2016 we moved from a quarterly meeting approach to a “Flash” leadership team meeting on a monthly basis in order to stay on track with the ambitious targets that we have set for ourselves in the region this year. With representation from the UK, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Czech Republic, Russia, Germany and Netherlands, it is always a lively and culturally diverse conversation! Even the greetings can be complex – is it a hug, a handshake, one kiss, two or even three?!  A conference call of course avoids this dilemma and we have all become very used to operating in a “virtual” environment with great technologies available to help us to do that (even my mother has finally mastered the skills of Facetime on her first iPad, even if the picture at my end is mostly the top of her head) and of course it is a skill that we look for in our MBA’s. How do you ensure smooth management of complex cross-country projects, cultural nuances and technological hiccups with gravitas and impact and importantly, bring everyone along with you? It can of course be challenging, but more and more the ‘modus operandi’ in our global working world. That doesn’t mean that getting together face-to-face when you can is not welcomed and sometimes critical if we are to all drive the force of change. I digress.

Back to the meeting…   We have a formal agenda, but we also start with a round table of “hot topics” – what do we need to know more about from the broader HR and business community? What are the specific challenges that need broader input from the team? What are the global inputs that might require us to think differently? It started with about 10 items but rapidly got longer – it was going to be a packed agenda. Each Talent Acquisition Manager is leading a different project that contributes to our EMEA Goals and Objectives (G&Os) that we set ourselves back in February for completion by December and a key part of the meeting is to give an update on the project status, the hurdles that need to be overcome and the help required from the team.  One colleague began “This shouldn’t take long…..” –  Famous last words! As well as challenging ourselves we get to challenge each other; to move beyond the constraints of each country perspective and think from a regional approach; to generate new ideas and thoughts that improve the debate and ultimately produce better outcomes. Of course that sometimes means shifting the agenda to allow for the rich discussion!

After a very nice pasta lunch (“when in Rome….!”) I was next up. Early Talent is a key area of focus for J&J. Last year I was fortunate to be part of a team that spent a week in the US defining the global strategy for early talent, in terms of the way we go to market, how we select schools, the channels that we use and the story that we tell. The next step is to develop regional strategies that align to this great approach, taking into account all of the country complexities, legal constraints, processes and technologies and create something that meets the talent needs of the business allowing for regional flexibility and market nuances. The message that was reinforced was very much that one size in EMEA most definitely does not fit all and that despite moving in the right direction, we will need strong collaboration and input from across the team and all our stakeholders to move the needle even further. Since that meeting I have run brain storming sessions with the local recruiting teams and am ready to present the next phase to the regional leadership later in June.

And that was it – my time was up. By the time we had covered all the critical topics some of us had been up 14 hours already and were very ready to check in to our rooms and grab some much needed fresh air. Rome was waiting! We jumped into cabs and were whisked into the city to a beautiful roof top venue for a pre-dinner drink (apparently it had been opened especially for us as it is usually too cold for Italians – for the British it was positively balmy!) where we got to continue the conversations of the day and relax with good company, excellent food and the sound of distant bells…..

…Or was that just the sound of my alarm clock? All too soon it was time to get up again and start day 2. I told you. I am definitely not a morning person.