The MBAs At Google, Apple & Facebook

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.”


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.


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.

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