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Inside View: ZS Associates

Last year ZS Associates hired at least 20 MBAs in Europe and 50 in North America

This week, Inside View spoke to an HR Associate at ZS Associates. It's a privately owned American consulting company, founded in 1983, by Kellogg School of Management marketing professors Andris A. Zoltners and Prabhakant Sinha.

Headquartered in Evanston, IL, it focuses on sales and marketing consulting. Apparently the company has never had a recruitment freeze and, as it continues to grow globally, is on the lookout for MBAs with solid quantitative skills as part of their strong academic credentials.

What is ZS Associates?
We’re a management consultancy specializing in sales and marketing, and the pharmaceutical and healthcare industry. Globally, we have over 2,000 employees in about 20 offices around the world.

The founders Andy Zoltners and Prabha Sinha are still very active in the company and still work with many of our clients. The industries we focus on today are those we started off with and have remained very strong in. For instance, the first client we ever had is still a client after 27 years.

What are the unique things about ZS Associates as a company?
The people. I know most companies say this and it’s very cheesy but it's true. We operate around three core values which are: get it right, do the right thing and treat people right. The people here are very friendly, and approachable. ZS is one of the first companies I’ve ever worked in that is truly non-hierarchical.

What is the best thing about working at ZS Associates?
Again, I would say the people. I’ve made a lot of good friends. The company is also very generous and treats its staff amazingly. Every year, we normally have a summer event. Last year, we went to Southampton for a day and night out. They gave us dinner, we all went bike riding, canoeing and tried lots of other water activities. Its also the only place I’ve worked where you are allowed to bring your partner to Christmas parties.

How many MBAs do you typically hire, and for what sort of roles?
It really depends on the business on what requirements there are. Last year in Europe, we hired at least 20 MBAs. In the US, across the various states I know we hired at least 50 MBAs.

Another thing we do is cross-office recruitment since our recruitment offices are standardized and each office can trust the recruitment choices of another office. This also means that an MBA based in the US for instance can apply for a role in the UK and be interviewed at the US office for this position.

What are your most popular locations?
London is one of the most popular. New York is also one of the places that fills quickly. Chicago is also quite popular whilst Shanghai is a very popular destination for international students. In Europe, Frankfurt and Milan are also very popular but the positions require knowledge of the local language there. We prefer people to have fluency in an additional language although we’ve hired people who only speak one language. However, English is the official language of the company so every employee must be fluent in that.

How does recruiting in consulting differ from other industries?
Consulting as an industry puts a stronger emphasis on fit. This is because most of the work is carried out in project teams so being able to perform well in that situation is heavily weighted in all our interviews.

Can you share any recruitment growth plans of the company?
We are growing significantly every year. Since the company started there has never been a recruitment freeze. We do recruitment drives at business schools including LBS, IMD, Kellogg, SDA Bocconi and many others but in general we are willing to look at anyone’s CV.

What makes a candidate stand out at recruitment phases?
We are keen on candidates with strong quantitative skills as part of their outstanding academic achievements. Three years minimum work experience is typical for MBAs and if that experience is already in healthcare or consulting then that’s great. We also look closely at covering letters or motivations and want candidates who don’t send us generic letter but really communicate why they want to work for ZS. 


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