The MBAs At Google, Apple & Facebook

by John A. Byrne on

jobsAs Wall Street hiring of MBAs has fallen in recent years, much of the slack has been taken up by the high tech firms. These days, it’s a rare business school that doesn’t ship a contingent of MBA students to Silicon Valley to both shop its graduates and learn from leading companies in the tech field.

Much of the newfound interest in tech is a function of growth: Google, Apple, Amazon and their ilk are among the fastest growing and innovative companies in the world. Their appetite for hiring young talent is immense and so are the career opportunities for freshly minted MBAs.

The attraction is mutual. As Read McNamara, managing director of the career management center at Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management, sees it, “A lot of interest has to do with the environment of tech firms. It’s viewed by MBAs as youthful, dynamic, high energy, and flexible. MBA students see young people rise very quickly through the ranks of these companies, and they see people being given tasks and turned loose. That’s very enticing.”

INTEREST IN TECH OFTEN HAS TO DO WITH ENTREPRENEURIAL INTENTIONS LATER

Amazon, a voracious recruiter of MBA talent in recent years, is now the top employer of Owen MBAs. The commerce giant, which has a fulfillment center ten miles outside Nashville, made offers to 15 grads last year and landed 13 of them. “A lot of the internet among students headed to tech is with the eventual intention of starting their own businesses down the road,” adds McNamara, who now makes four trips to the San Francisco Bay Area to forge better relationships with tech companies for Owen’s students.

Business school employment reports clear show the trend. One school after another is reporting that an increasing percentage of their MBAs is taking jobs in the tech sector. But those one-year snapshots of the MBA job market are only somewhat helpful. It’s also interesting to see which schools have been successful with the leading tech firms over several years.

That’s one of the reasons we analyzed the member profiles on LinkedIn to come up with a list of MBAs from the top 25 U.S. business schools who are employed by nine of the world’s leading tech players, from Google, Apple and Amazon to IBM, Intel and Samsung. We’ve also looked at MBA employment at some of the super hot companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linked.

MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, GEOGRAPHY IS DESTINY

Though hardly definitive, searches of LinkedIn’s database provide a fascinating and fairly accurate glimpse at what you could call the “market penetration” of a school’s MBAs in any one firm. Sure, not everyone has a profile on LinkedIn, though people who fail to list with the world’s number one professional network are certainly in the minority at this point. It’s also possible that LinkedIn’s search algorithm could be slightly askew and count undergraduate business majors from schools such as the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School which boasts a large undergrad program. In any case, we think the results are worth a look–and we think you’ll find them quite compelling.

When it comes to MBA hiring in tech, geography is often destiny. The location of the University of Washington’s Foster School in Seattle has a lot to do with the fact that Microsoft employs more MBAs from Foster (889 by LinkedIn’s count) than any other business school. UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has 135 MBAs at Intel, outdistancing every other rival. In contrast, Dartmouth Tuck, which annually graduates about the same number of MBAs as Haas, has just a dozen MBAs at Intel.

Or take a look at how many alums work for Dell from the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business: a whopping 528 grads. McCombs’ Austin campus is just a 21-minute drive to Round Rock, home to Dell’s corporate headquarters. With nearly identical sized classes, Tuck has 15 MBAs at Dell, according to LinkedIn. But then, Tuck is nearly 2,000 miles away from Round Rock–not 19 miles as Austin is.

It’s also no accident, however, that Duke University’s Fuqua School has 47 MBAs on the payroll at Apple, not all that far off from Stanford’s 55 MBAs, even though Stanford is in Apple’s backyard. How come?  Well, it helps that Steve Job’s successor, CEO Tim Cook, who graduated from Fuqua’s evening Executive MBA program in 1988.

And guess which school dominates the MBA crowd at Facebook, where Harvard MBA Sheryl Sandberg is chief operating officer? Harvard, of course. By LinkedIn’s count, there are 38 HBS grads at Facebook–slightly more than the 35 from Berkeley, the 32 from Stanford, or the 30 from Wharton.

1 2 3
  • SeattleMAn

    890 U of W Foster grad at Microsoft! thats really impressive.

  • d4dd

    It’s 89.

  • MacCam

    Why is Chicago supposedly #3 on Poets and Quants, yet it’s basically beaten by Wharton on every single measure, including in this article as well?

  • JohnAByrne

    Nope. According to LinkedIn, it is 889.

  • 2S

    Wharton’s class size is approximately 50% larger. Once you adjust for class size, the numbers of grads they have across tech firms are very similar, with the exception of Google (where Wharton edges out) and Apple (where Booth does better)

  • dan

    You should include some indicator that takes into account class size. These objective numbers tell a less compelling story. Schools like Stanford and MIT which have much smaller classes seem to be sending a healthy amount of people to these top firms. However without the size element that is much harder to see.

  • bmp

    ^^This. This data would be significantly more useful if you compared #s in the context of class size. It’s almost meaningless to compare a place like Stanford to HBS the way it’s done here.

  • Paja

    clas size is irrelevant! look at U W Foster that sent 890 to microsoft alone! more than any other business school including harvard and wharton. It is clear sign of Foster superiority and program quality.

  • f

    Exactly, these tables should have percentage figures based on total class size

  • Orange1

    I also heard that the food is much better at Chicago than Wharton because Booth asked that the $300 million he donated pay for better cooks. Seriously? It’s also self selection. Certain schools are going to attract more people interested in tech than others. Doesn’t make one better than the other.

  • Orange1

    Foster is also a clear example of how the gap between schools is not as great as believed. There are also some people out of there who have done very well at Boeing. They must be learning something.
    Surprised that Cornell and UCLA do not have higher numbers.

  • JoeM

    For prospective students, a more interesting statistic might be MBA interns at top tech firms.

  • bwanamia

    How many of these Wharton MBAs at the tech firms are products of Wharton’s exec MBA in San Francisco? An apples to apples comparison would not include any exec MBAs.

  • JohnAByrne

    Truth is, class size is only one “adjustment” you could make to the numbers. A better adjustment would be to track the percentage of a graduating class that actually goes into the tech field. Or you can adjust the numbers by geography, acknowledging that schools that are close to these companies have an “unfair” advantage over companies that are thousands of miles away. The point is this: There are at least a half dozen legitimate ways to adjust these numbers. I’ve chosen to present the raw numbers and then allow the reader to come to his or her conclusions about them–as imperfect as they are.

  • JohnAByrne

    It is impressive, but it’s also worth acknowledging that a sizable number of these MBAs were not granted full-time. Many were done by people already employed at Microsoft who got their Foster MBAs inthe school’s part-time program, its Executive MBA program, or its MBA for technology professionals program. That does not lessen the value of the degree, but it does help to explain why the number of Foster MBAs at Microsoft is so large.

  • fer

    You just presented raw numbers cause its much less work.

  • Paul

    OK..when it is U W Foster then we should dig deep and see why the hell is that huge number of its grad at such prestigious company!!? but if it was Harvard, Stanford, or Columbia, then we do not get surprised!! do you see the delusion of the brand here and how the quality programs can be easily affected negatively by the naive underestimate coming out of the consistent and continuous gasp for brands…I consider Vandy MBA, Emory, Foster, and other programs are really hidden treasures..

  • JohnAByrne

    I also consider Vanderbilt, Emory and Washington all hidden gems as well. The 889 number is the largest number in the tables for any of the top 25 schools at all the companies listed. So it demands some explanation for readers, to be fair.

  • Hamm0

    Interns would also give you the ability to standardize the data a bit by dividing by total class size. Selection bias will still exist, though. Interesting idea anyway.

  • Hamm0

    Dangerous assumption that we could come to our own conclusions without turning your comments into a childish rankings war… :)

  • MeanMan

    These numbers would be much more meaningful if they were correct. Just from my own network I know that Tuck at Samsung and Chicago at Facebook are off…

  • James

    It’s funny to hear the Wharton & Chicago guys squabble about absolute placement vs % of class size, when Berkeley Haas has a way smaller class size and still better placement. In my view, Haas is a top 3 or 4 school.

  • Amaral

    Haas looks like a great choice if you want to work for any of those companies…

  • ryansssss

    No wonder Dell sucks! Offload some MBAs and get some TALLENT (read: engineers) in that company!

  • ryansssss

    Dell MBAs: 1249
    Facebook MBAs: 291
    Dell Market Value per MBA: $19M
    Facebook Market Value per MBA: $586M

Partner Sites: C-Change Media | Poets & Quants for Execs | Tipping the Scales | Poets & Quants for Undergrads