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CEOs Get Active: Luring Top MBAs Away from Tech

MBAs Away from TechAfter years of losing top MBAs to Silicon Valley, it seems CEOs in the industrial and manufacturing sectors are fighting back.

The Wall Street Journal reports: “As M.B.A.s and new grads gravitate toward top companies in technology, firms in other industries are getting personal in their pursuit of young workers. Some, like Cargill Inc. Chief Executive David MacLennan, personally call top prospects in hopes that a direct connection with the CEO will seal the deal.”

The important function of attracting and keeping top talent may seem to normally fall the the Chief Human Resources Officer. Said Chris Policinski, CEO of Land O’Lakes Inc.”Recruiting is too important to leave up to HR alone… When I started, it was a very hierarchical world. I saw the CEO once a year when he gave the state of the union speech for the company.” However, he adds, that’s no longer the case.

The pressure from Silicon Valley is clear. Take this Forbes piece by Alex Cowan, Adjunct Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, who asks: “Is Google the New McKinsey?

Cowan writes: “I think it’s about the action. Moving to ultra-expensive Silicon Valley to take an entry-level management job is not a way to maximize your savings, at least not in the short term. Joining (or starting) the right startup after leaving a prestigious digital giant like Google is a great way to make money, but risky. The MBA that prefers Google cares about his or her skill set, and wants to be where the action is: digital disruption. Digital disruption is probably the single most exciting thing happening in business and that’s where these MBA’s want to be. At least, that’s what I hear from my students.”

Another tactic these industries are using to combat tech: If you beat them, join them.

Another Wall Street Journal piece describes how firms go after millennials: “Companies use video and virtual reality to show a tech-focused generation opportunities involving robotics and 3-D printing.”

And an important way these industries are “joining” their tech competitors: Increasing flexibility around jobs.

CNBC reports: “One survey conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of Ernst and Young found the top priorities for job seekers, after competitive pay and benefits, were flexibility and not having to work excessive overtime.”

“The most common flexible arrangements include telecommuting, part-time, and flexible hours – where an employee can set some or all of their hours. Today, 80 percent of all U.S. companies now offer flexible work arrangements, according to one survey. Meanwhile, telecommuting specifically has grown 103 percent in the last ten years.”