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Inside View: Gartner

Gartner has opened up its recruiting process and a tech background is no longer required for MBAs. Marie Sullivan, a company Talent Sourcer, shares exclusive insight with BusinessBecause.

Thu Apr 17 2014

Gartner Inc. (NYSE: IT) is one of the world’s leading information technology research and advisory companies.  A favourite among MBAs, Gartner is the valuable partner to clients in over 13,000 distinct organizations.

Through the resources of Gartner Research, Gartner Executive Programs, Gartner Consulting and Gartner Events, the tech giant works with every client to research, analyze and interpret the business of IT.

Founded in 1979, the company is headquartered in Connecticut, in the United States, and has nearly 6,000 associates, including more than 1,400 research analysts and consultants, and clients in 85 countries. The company had revenues to the tune of $1.616 billion in 2012.

For an MBA graduate, the opportunities are endless. Marie Sullivan, a company Talent Sourcer, has been scouring some of the UK’s best business schools for new hires. She says there are “huge” opportunities in sales. Business development and consulting are also big areas for MBA graduates to enter.

Marie tells BusinessBecause that a technical background is no longer required for roles within the tech giant. Gartner is casting its cyber net far and wide – and in this exclusive interview, the company talent scout tells MBAs what they can do to stand out from the crowd.  

What’s the focus of your recruitment – MBAs or undergraduates?

We don’t just hire MBAs, [but] we never really hire fresh grads, they always have to have some kind of work experience relevant to the area they go into. Or a degree that’s very specific to what we’re hiring for.

What are the biggest hiring positions at the moment?

Sales is huge, and the business development and consulting area – especially on the MBA side of things. If they have an MBA in technology or business I.T, that’s very appealing to us.

And client services as well. Our business is built on people, so we need people who are interested in servicing our clients and bringing a high standard.

What background experience is needed for client-servicing roles?

Some kind of customer service, previously. They have to have very good skills in communications, versatility and so on.

But I would say it’s so different, because there are so many different areas, which all range from say one year’s experience where you’ll probably be dealing with lower-level clients and pulling out more information than anything else, to ACMs where you can have maybe 15 years’ experience and you’re going to be speaking to CEO-level people and talking about strategy.

It’s very varied. It’s always about the person.

For MBA graduates, is a technical or I.T background essential?

No. Some consultant roles will have some kind of tech background preferable, so an MBA and some kind of I.T degree. But there are managers that don’t necessarily want that [someone with a tech background]; they want someone who has a great service mentality and someone who has a passion for it.

In the sales arena, we don’t need any kind of I.T experience or background. It’s preferred, it would be great if they did, but it’s the interest, the passion and the ability to understand what we actually do and how value is added to our clients [that we prefer]. Often it’s hard because we don’t sell a tangible product.

Why do you think MBA and Master’s graduates make a good fit with Gartner?

Open mindedness and culturally, they are curious; they want to know more. They still want to learn a lot – even at a senior level.

If someone has just graduated from something [like an MBA], it shows that they wanted to improve themselves in some way and it shows they are able to take information on and implement that information in a career.

So I think that’s why they become so successful and are in high demand.

For sales roles – what level can an MBA graduate expect to come into the company at?

Again, it depends on the person and what experience they’ve had in the past. If they’ve had a bit of experience, often it means they would come in at an Executive Account level for us. And this means basically that they’d have the equivalent of maybe five or six years in Gartner. They’d work more of the corporate accounts – major accounts.

And again that would depend on the experience, because at Gartner we don’t look at your CV too often. We want to really whittle down who you are. But they will come in at a bit of a higher level.

In terms of career progression, what can someone expect within a few years at the company?

It’s up to them. Gartner doesn’t discriminate against people who haven’t got the degree or haven’t necessarily taken a [certain] path. It’s all about personal performance and contribution.

If someone comes in, embraces it and is successful, then they can look to come up, in the first two years, into management or maybe other areas of the business. And it happens all the time.

We don’t actually hire management externally – only from within. And you always know that when you join us there is going to be an opportunity for you. We don’t favor anybody – it’s all on independent contribution.

What can an MBA do to stand out in the recruiting process?

I think I keep saying this – but curiosity. The way [I know that] I have a candidate that stands out, is that he or she is feeding information back to me that I’ve given them. And he or she is using every piece of information that I’ve given them to their advantage.

It shows listening skills. Often a lot of the time in interviews, or the recruitment process, we find candidates that just sit there and don’t ask questions; they don’t ask about the person we’re looking for.

And it doesn’t only show a lack of interest but it shows a lack of wanting to learn how they can achieve. And that’s something that really sticks out to me. One-hundred per cent of the candidates, if they do that, they are successful.