MBA Job Recruiters: General Motors
General Motors—the Detroit automotive monolith, whose Cadillac and Chevrolet brands are American icons unto themselves—turns 110 next year. 10 years into its second century, GM is poised to shake things up in the boardroom and out on the road due in no small part to growing concerns about self-driving cars.
A recent Fortune 500 profile says of GM’s new direction, “With autonomous vehicles on the horizon, [GM] is investing heavily in services and deals that aim to re-imagine the company’s core business as ‘transportation,’ not just ‘cars.’” A Fast Company profile put it more bluntly: “GM is no longer only competing for talent with Ford and Chrysler. Now, it must face off with the likes of Uber, Lyft, Apple, Alphabet, nuTonomy, Mobileye, Tesla, Quanergy and Didi Chuxing.”
Despite a company-wide re-imagination, one song will remain the same: GM has long been a mecca for MBAs, particularly in the Midwest. We took a closer look at what it’s like for MBAs to work at GM, how they get ahead, and how a budding b-school grad might get his/her foot in the door.
Why MBAs Love General Motors
GM was ranked 325th on a Forbes list of America’s Best Employers, not to mention 21st America’s Top Public Companies, 8th in sales, 22nd in profit, 30th in assets and 92nd in market value.
Indeed breaks down the average annual starting salary for positions typically held by MBAs:
- Marketers: $119,517/year
- Marketing Managers: $81,027/year
- Program Manager: $89,249/year
- Project Manager: $74,754/year
- Accountant: $55,375/year
- Finance Manager: $135,108/year
- Financial Analyst: $89,867/year
GM offers a generous benefits package, which includes a comprehensive medical plan, dental plan, triple tax-advantaged health savings account with GM contribution, a 401(k) with both matching and retirement contributions by GM, three to six weeks vacation time, 16 annual paid holidays, life insurance, disability benefits, tuition assistance, adoption assistance and voluntary benefits, as well as employee and family discounts on GM vehicles.
Life at GM
Working at General Motors vacillate between extremes, according to one anonymous employee testimony that was published on Jalopnik in 2014:
Overall I had an incredible experience at GM. I was excited just to have a job in that economy, and I felt I was doing important work for a recently rejuvenated and well-storied American brand. I traveled around the country for my work meeting with suppliers and troubleshooting issues exposed by warranty returns. But it definitely had drawbacks. Yes, it was meetings-intensive, sometimes prohibitively so. I was often called upon outside of working hours by my boss, or some other engineering supervisor. I witnessed design decisions made on the basis of cost instead of quality. My suppliers dragged their feet when we tried making changes to improve quality, but they would be the first in line and back for seconds if it meant cost savings. Not to mention that the annual mid-summer shutdown basically cut my use-able vacation time in half.
An anonymous GM consultant spoke of his experience moving up the corporate ladder on the GMAT Club Forum:
My first year was probably within 10 percent of what most consultants who aren’t returning to a previous employer made. I got a decent annual raise in the winter, and my next position is on the table and should give a healthy bump and probably triple my bonus potential next year. I wont expect that big of a change every year … but prove yourself in the first year and you might make a big jump.
Landing a Job at GM
There are multiple routes to a position at General Motors, which is fairly transparent about how candidates should present themselves. In a 2012 interview with Dice, GM’s Director of Human Resources for Global Information Technology Cheri Ott talked about the company’s need for new talent with “initiative, a strong work ethic, a desire to make a difference and learn.”
Ott elaborates, “We’re looking for people who can articulate their experience and communicate clearly what they bring to the party. Beyond technical competencies, we’re looking for people who understand the business, who have leadership skills, competencies like problem-solving, decision-making and dealing with ambiguity, learning agility.”
It helps, for one, if you’re tech savvy. In a 2015 Fortune profile, GM’s Global Head of Vehicle Components and Subsystems Ken Kelzer notes, “We need people who can develop software to control every aspect of a car’s operations.” The company is hungry for professionals with data science, programming and engineering backgrounds.
Although General Motors is synonymous with Detroit, the company’s Austin headquarters has been expanding since at least 2012. From the aforementioned Dice profile, “GM’s global IT staff is expected to expand by about 10,000 in the next three to five years as it brings 90 percent of its outsourced IT work back in house.”
GM and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business partnered to develop a specialized MBA recruitment program contained within an online MBA that gives students “in-depth knowledge on standard MBA topics, plus material designed to help you thrive at GM and grow within the company.”
GM offers a number of internships specifically designed to prepare MBA candidates to “take the helm in a variety of settings to hone decision-making skills [and] work and interact with key decision-makers.” The Global Corporate Finance Internship is “geared to produce the next generation of financial leaders, working within Operations Finance and the Treasurer’s Office.” The Manager Track was developed to give MBAs specialized experience.
Global Connected Customer Experience (GCCX) interns are “responsible for connected vehicle technology and services for General Motors globally [in order to deliver] the best possible experiences for GM customers.” Sales, Marketing, Customer Care and Aftersales interns “analyze trends throughout our organization, gather and interpret marketing data to assist us in making informed decisions.”
Strategy & Global Portfolio Planning interns work to understand “customer needs and desires, with societal, market, and industry trends.” Interns are “responsible for GM’s current and future global Vehicle, Propulsion Systems and Technology portfolio plans.” There are S&GPP opportunities within Consumer Insights, Global Market Research, Market Analytics, Global Portfolio Planning, Global Technology Planning, Long-Term Forecasting, Competitor Intelligence, Regional Product Planning, Global Propulsion Systems Planning, Innovation/Strategy and Global Planning & Program Management.
Supply Chain Interns will have “critical projects that play a crucial role in reducing material costs and supporting GM’s global vehicle sales growth.” Supply Chain Interns will “develop an in-depth process knowledge base.” Daily activities touch upon Engineering, Finance, Quality, Manufacturing, Research and Development, Sales, Marketing and Advertising.