General Electric is one of the most sought-after companies among newly-minted MBAs. Business school graduates are enticed by the wide range of industries and functions GE offer: oil & gas, healthcare, transportation, finance industries, as well as staples sales and marketing – and a huge global reach.
When Antonio Thewissen got round to applying for the company’s Experienced Commercial Leadership Program (ECLP), one of the biggest MBA recruiting initiatives, it was the multi-functional MBA rotational programs that convinced him GE was the right choice.
“They are high-impact engagements. There is the possibility to get involved in different businesses and functional areas, and there is always one or more ECLP involved in the hottest topics within the organisation,” he says.
Those hot topics are wide-ranging. So far he is worked in value proposition, business development and marketing management roles across Australia.
And it is not just a training program. GE shoots for 100 per cent placement at the end of the two-year scheme, which around 100 candidates enrol in each year. The opportunities for career advancement are a key motivation, says Yousef Tamimi, who moved into GE Global Growth & Operations after completing the ECLP last year.
“The ECLP opens the doors for you to build a great career,” he says, as long as you take ownership. “I saw their great structure in accelerating your career and giving you the opportunity to gain distinguished experiences during the program.
“The projects are designed to build sales, marketing, strategy and leadership skills, in a sub-business of GE, among other skills – and you also get to complete a comprehensive six week in-residence global training curriculum.”
If b-school is all about MBA Jobs, then Yousef’s background goes a long way to confirming the career opportunities available for graduates at GE. He was a senior marketer at a leading technology company, but made the switch to GE and completed rotations in the Middle East including strategy, the energy marketing team and later GE Oil & Gas.
Since finishing the ECLP he has moved into a full-time position as a country marketing manager, based in Saudi Arabia.
GE has pockets in locations all around the world and the chance to work in an international environment is what attracts MBAs, says Antonio. “There is vast international exposure. The ECLP community expands to all regions in the world and I can relate what I’m doing to other ECLP’s in different countries,” he says.
“This best-practices sharing gives me different perspectives, and contributes to better solutions.”
Yousef agrees. “You’ll build a great network across different global teams. And you’ll have great exposure to new markets, customers and products, creating precious networks internally and externally.”
Networking can get MBAs a long way in business. But to get onto the ECLP, you’ll need experience in sales or marketing. “Experience in those functions is really necessary. But that’s not to say that if someone had another background, such as consulting, we wouldn’t take them on,” says Chris Thomas, the programs’ Global Recruiting Director.
Leadership and analytical skills are also a bonus, he adds; skills that allow MBAs to fit into the company with relative ease.
But a good alumni network, a huge component of any b-school, could give you a competitive advantage. “If you’ve reached out to a current ECLP or an ECLP alumnus, you will understand the flavour of being on the program, and can see if it's the right fit for you,” says Chris.
When Antonio applied to GE fresh out of the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM), a top-ranking school based in Sydney, the MBA alumni network was instrumental in him landing the job.
“It was easy to connect with ECLPs and other GE employees who were happy to share their experiences,” he says.
“Even some of my interviewers during the recruitment process were AGSM alumni, which immediately prompted a different tone in the discussion. The international recognition of the AGSM MBA programs also helped – the GE recruiting team and the AGSM career services team are in constant communication.
“The on-campus program presentations gave me a more vivid perspective of the program, and a chance to connect with current ECLPs.”
Having a degree from a top MBA Ranking school definitely helps – although it’s not a requirement. In Europe, GE is partnered with London Business School, IESE Business School and HEC Paris, among others, company recruiter Chris says.
But it is having the “skill sets” to tackle a range of different projects, being strong communicators, and being able to “pitch, sell and build interest in ideas” that makes MBAs a valuable hire, he added.
Yousef is a case in-point. He got his MBA from the German Jordanian University, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh College of Business . And while not as well-known on the global stage as some other schools, it was just as influential in his application process.
“I realized the importance of the MBA to build core business competencies. When I applied for the ECLP, I utilized LinkedIn to build my network within on-program ECLPs and program managers, to get the guidance and support for my application,” he explains.
There are many career functions on offer at GE, but marketing is a popular placement post-ECLP. The “intense” training will provide you with a solid marketing foundation, says Antonio. “You get an unmatched opportunity to dominate the way GE goes to market. And by the end of the program, I will possess solid marketing skills aligned to the various industries and regions where GE participates,” he added.
Marketing is one of the most popular MBA careers and, according to a survey by QS Top MBA, 36 per cent more marketing roles were offered to MBAs last year. Marketing Magazine reports that senior marketers can earn salaries of nearly $130,000. MBAs told BusinessBecause that b-school provides you with the tools needed to make it in marketing.
And for Yousef, it is not the only role GE groomed him for, but opportunities are nonetheless fruitful.
“The ECLP provides you with huge opportunities to develop yourself as marketing or sales professional, and will position you for great off-program roles - if you've invested in yourself and your network during the program,” he adds.
“It opens the doors for you to build a great career. But it’s up to you to achieve your career goals.”