Google Tops MBA Most Wanted List

One in four MBA students say they’d most want to work at Google, according to a survey published today (July 18) by Universum USA. The king of search on the web topped the list for the fifth consecutive year. McKinsey, Apple, Goldman Sachs, and Boston Consulting Group rounded out the top five, but there was a fairly large gap between Google and everyone else.

While 25.7% of the MBA students surveyed put Google in their top five favorite employer list, some 16.59% put No. 2-ranked McKinsey in the top five. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the newest entrant to the list was Facebook, which made its debut at No. 7. Nearly one in ten MBA students named Facebook among their top five employers.

Among the top 25 companies, automaker BMW, luxury goods player LVMH and IBM made the most gains this year. BMW moved up seven places to a rank of 20 from 27th last year; LVMH and IBM both gained six places, respectively moving to 22 from 28 and 24 from a place of 30th in 2010. Amazon also inched higher up the list, moving into eighth place from 11th, while Apple gained two slots to move into third from last year’s fifth-place ranking.

The losers? Johnson & Johnson, Disney, Microsoft and JP Morgan. J&J fell four places to 14th from 10th last year, while both Microsoft and Disney slipped three spots. The software giant fell to 18th from 15th, while America’s favorite entertainment company slid to 11th from 8th. JPMorgan fell to ninth from 7th place last year.

Most of the highly rated companies are long-time major MBA recruiters. No. 6 ranked Bain & Co., for example, hired more than 350 freshly minted MBA graduates this past recruiting season. Amazon hires hundreds of MBAs each year. Being competitively or intellectually challenged was the No. 1 career goal among new MBAs this year, topping work/life balance which was last year’s top priority.

There also was a significant divergence of opinion based on the gender of MBA students, according to the survey published by Women, for example, tended to rate consumer goods companies far higher than men. The luxury brand LVMH, ranked 14th among female MBAs, didn’t even make the top 50 among male MBAs. Starbucks, ranked 12th among the women, also didn’t make the top 50 among men.

The big financial MBA hirers were more desirable employers from a male perspective. Blackstone Group, the prestigious private equity firm, didn’t make the top 50 among female MBAs but was ranked 11th among male MBA students. Goldman Sachs, ranked as the third most desirable employer by men, was ranked 18th among the female MBA students.

Google topped the survey for the fifth year in a row. Jackson Castleberry, a Google employee who graduated with his MBA in 2009 from Virginia’s Darden School, told Fortune: “There were two things that really attracted me to Google: the reputation that Google had helping to transform businesses — from large companies down to mom and pop pizzerias — and the reputation for hiring amazing, smart people. There was an energy and excitement there that was palpable. I said I really want to be part of that. One of the things that I love about working here is a sense of camaraderie, everybody is proud of their team and the product. I spent five years in the navy as an intelligence offer and there are a lot of similarities — the emphasis on leadership and that camaraderie. You have that strong bond that is exciting to be around.”

MBAs told Universum that they expected higher base salaries this year than the survey showed a year earlier. This year MBA candidates said they expect to earn $98,034 one year after graduation, up from $94,376 last year. Expectations among the women MBAs polled were somewhat less than the men: women expected to earn $89,985 a year after graduation, while men expected $99,555.

The research firm surveyed 6,297 MBA students (2,456 women and 3,841 men) at 73 top business schools nationwide between the months of December 2010 and March 2011. MBA candidates were asked to choose the five companies they would most like to work for from a list of over 200 companies. They also had the opportunity to write-in the name of a company if it was not included in the list. The rankings were then compiled based on how often each company was selected as one of five ideal employers.


2011 Rank & Company2010 rank% students who put in top 52011 rank among women2011 rank among men
1. Google125.7%11
2. McKinsey & Co.216.59%42
3. Apple516.05%24
4. Goldman Sachs313.59%183
5. Boston Consulting Group412.09%85
6. Bain & Co.611.77%106
7. FacebookNA9.86%512
8. Amazon.com119.63%98
9. J.P. Morgan79.61%207
10. Nike98.91%710
11. Walt Disney88.41%316
12. Deloitte128.35%119
13. The Blackstone Group137.27%NA11
14. Johnson & Johnson106.71%620
15. Morgan Stanley146.62%3514
16. IDEO186.24%1517
17. General Electric166.09%2513
18. Microsoft155.94%2315
19. Procter & Gamble175.62%1323
20. BMW274.76%5018
21. Coca-Cola194.74%1629
22. LVMH284.53%14NA
23. Starbucks244.40%12NA
24. IBM304.07%3322
25. Bank of America/Merrill Lynch253.93%NA18




  • Iggi

    I am wondering how many students who put MC companies at the first places had spent at least a day doing a real consulting job?
    On the other hand, if you google Google jobs, you’ll notice that they normally require either an MBA or a MS degree, so MBA is not the only ticket in there 🙂

  • internalbanker

    Although I’m not surprised by Apple being in the top 5 due to their strong consumer brand image, it would be interesting to see if MBAs still wanted a job there when they find out that Apple is notoriously stingy with offers that are generally 30-40% lower when compared to other top tech companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc. About 4 years ago a friend of mine had entry-level undergrad offers from both Google and Apple within their finance departments…Google’s base came in at $70k while Apple was offering $45k – which in the Bay Area is practically an unlivable wage.

  • Guiseppe


    It would be interesting to see the same survey from 2001 or 2006 and compare changes in graduates’ preferences. BMW and LVMH are the two exceptions to break the strong US dominance.

  • Brani


    my sentiments exactly. Sorry to break this out to you John, but if you havent worked in a techie firm you don’t understand exactly who runs the show… mba’s and management are either paid lip service or despised, and at best seen as support staff

    always remember: focus job function on core competency.

  • Kamesh Kompella

    Isn’t it a known problem that Google has had trouble retaining its CFO and other people in Finance department? Why would an MBA want to work in a department that commands little respect?

  • AJ

    Are the jobs for the large retail/conglomerates mostly hirings through the mba leadership rotational programs or are the MBAs typically hired into specific roles to fill specific needs.

  • Brani,

    Google is simply a hot growth company. And though engineering talent has been crucial to it, it’s important to have the best talent in finance, marketing, sales, human resources and general management. Many MBAs also have engineering backgrounds so it’s not as if there is a single skill set we’re talking about.

  • Bruce Vann

    I’m surprised that General Mills isn’t up there.

  • Brani

    I dont understand this. GOOG is a tech company. Wouldnt an MBA always play second fiddle to a high level Techie and hence have a “limited” career. What’s the charm here or is it just the brand name?