Beer, the original social network, has been bringing people together for thousands of years. And no company has more recognizable brands than Anheuser-Busch InBev. With over 200 beer brands, including Budweiser, Corona and Stella Artois, the company continues to forge strong connections with consumers. And they are united behind one vision: To be the best beer company in a better world.
Indeed, no company is home to more brands that are synonymous with good times than Anheuser-Busch InBev. In their world, anything can happen. Here, Clydesdales kick field goals and lost dogs find their way home. Frogs croak “Bud-Weis-Er” alongside fussy lizards and sassy ferrets. And friends greet each other with a hearty “wazzup.”
Of course, beverages are a serious business. Behind the beer, Anheuser-Busch InBev is more than a master marketer with an exceptional product and flawless logistics. To be the leading global brewer and one of the world’s top five consumer goods companies, you must be constantly looking ahead and evolving. To do that, the company has adopted a mindset that might surprise many.
VIEWS ITSELF AS AN INSURGENT BATTLING STARTUPS AND CONSULTANTS FOR TALENT
“We’re very entrepreneurial,” says Bieke Teerlinck, the company’s director of global talent attraction and retention in an interview with Poets&Quants. “Some people might say that we’re like a global startup and to be successful in our company, you really need to be a self-starter, have an ownership mentality and have a hunger for achieving above and beyond what is currently possible all while being comfortable with ambiguity.”
As a result, Anheuser-Busch InBev sees itself in the role of an “insurgent.” “We’re never satisfied with the status quo,” Teerlinck muses, “and always pushing people out of their comfort zone.” To reinforce that culture, the company pursues MBA candidates you might not expect. “That is why we compete for talent against startups, consulting firms, and tech companies. They are attracting the same type of entrepreneurial and driven future leaders,” Teerlinck adds.
Anheuser-Busch InBev sets the bar very high for incoming MBAs. And that’s one reason why it is so difficult for MBAs to land a job there. Summer internships are considered the pipeline to full-time employment at the company. Out of 2,100 MBA applications received in 2015, only 54 have been hired to start their summer internships this summer – a 2.6 percent conversion rate. Approximately 20-30 of those will be given the opportunity for full-time roles – though the company doesn’t maintain target numbers. “It is our intention to hire all of the summer interns,” says Teerlinck, “but it is all about their results, cultural fit, and future potential.”
MBAs ARE THE COMPANY’S FUTURE LEADERS
How important is the intern selection process? Consider this: AB InBev’s senior management and executive leadership teams are involved in interviewing candidates. Many times, they call the final selected candidates to extend the internships offers. To them, Teerlinck points out, MBAs should have the potential to become the company’s future leaders.
At its heart, Anheuser-Busch InBev is a true meritocracy that rewards results. “We offer very fast and accelerated cross-functional careers,” Teerlinck stresses. “It’s all about what you deliver and before you know it, you’ll be in the top levels of the company.”
Teerlinck herself epitomizes this ethos. An economist by training, she joined the firm in 2002 as a human resources generalist. Over the past 12.5 years, she has held eight positions in four countries (Belgium, Russia, Canada, and the United States), climbing the ladder as she proved herself over-and-over as her responsibilities increased. “I love this amazing journey,” she gushes. “It really reflects the way we manage careers and talent here.”
Recently, Poets&Quants sat down with Teerlinck to learn about Anheuser-Busch InBev’s culture, onboarding, and expectations. Here were her thoughts.
What do you look for in a resume and background that many candidates might not know?
For us, it really is all about cultural fit and potential – much more than technical skills and experience. When we assess candidates, we look beyond what is written on the resume, beyond professional and educational achievements. We want to know the whole person. What drives the candidate? Does he or she illustrate perseverance, drive, and ownership? Can they illustrate examples of going above and beyond expectations? Have they come up with innovative solutions to problems?