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American Express To Hire 250 MBAs To Drive "Digital Transformation"

Global financial services company American Express wants to hire MBAs to help it adapt to the new digital economy – an era of mobile payments and digital client services.

Thu Nov 20 2014

American Express is ramping up recruitment in 2015 to become a leader in digital commerce as it seeks to transform its business to lead in mobile payments and digital services. It plans to hire 250 MBAs through to 2016 on both an internship and full-time basis.

The global financial services group has changed its recruitment strategy and has sought to hire more people that can help to power its “digital transformation”. American Express, or Amex, already recruits regularly from a group of core business schools including NYU: Stern, Columbia and Michigan Ross. It will focus its recruitment in the US, the UK and in India.

In an interview with BusinessBecause, Amex’s vice president of global campus recruitment, Brian Ruggiero, said that there are “endless opportunities” for MBA graduates to find employment during the bank’s shift to a digitally focused model.

Despite Amex announcing widespread job cuts last year, he said: “We’ve actually needed to hire more people who can help us transform our business to lead in mobile payment… And expand our digital service offerings.”

There are opportunities open for MBAs to work in digital product management, consulting, marketing, finance, and operations, as well as in risk and information management and client management, he said.

There are also opportunities to work on Apple Pay, the innovative new mobile payments system that allows customers to pay for transactions with their iPhones, and in designing small business solutions to “develop and deploy ground-breaking technology”.

As such, Amex is demanding new abilities from its MBA hires including the skills required to handle data

Brian said: “We [are] looking for talent[ed] individuals who are fluent in code, understand parallel processing, data clustering and statistical analysis. These skill sets are very different from the tones you would expect from American Express, but being successful in the digital payments industry means we are hiring and training differently in order to innovate and grow.”

He added that because of American Express’ digital transformation, a passion for digital commerce is “critical” and is something that the company looks for in job candidates.

The majority of MBAs hired by Amex would traditionally go through a 10 – 12 week summer internship.

But Brian said there is a misconception that Amex “just a bank”. “In reality, American Express is in the midst of an exciting digital transformation,” he said, adding: “This presents endless opportunities for MBA grads – from working on Apple Pay to designing small business solutions.”

American Express’ digital drive comes after news that other banks are placing more value in digitally-skilled graduates, and are shaking up their operations to offer more digital services as they face competition from large technology groups and fintech (financial technology) start-ups.

A recent survey of recruitment in the City of London, the UK’s financial centre, found a rapid increase in hiring in October compared with the same month in 2013, led by banks’ “digital agendas”.

Business schools have been trying to gear their students up for big data and data analytics roles. Some schools have also rolled out specialist degree programs solely focused on the handling and analysis of data.

Like a host of other financial services groups, American Express has expanded its recruiting efforts to include virtual events via webinars, in addition to its campus visits and partnerships with student clubs, and has broadened its strategy to actively target minority candidates.

Brian said that Amex looks for students who can highlight their analytics and leadership qualities, and he added that they should also be able to demonstrate a track record for driving innovation and new ways of working.

“In this digital age, having the right people is just as important as having the right products, partners and technology,” Brian said.

The NYSE-listed company has 63,000 employees globally, according to its 2013 annual report, and has a market capitalization of $93.7 billion.

Amex’s net income rose 8% to $1.5 billion in the third quarter of 2014.