What General Electric Seeks In MBA Hires


It’s no coincidence that General Electric chose “We bring good things to life” as its first slogan. Tracing its roots to Thomas Edison, GE has been on the forefront of seemingly every innovation of the past 125 years.

An original Dow Jones member, GE built its reputation with lighting before branching into any application that required power. You could think of the company as the precursor to Amazon or Apple, as it touched nearly every facet of daily life. GE helped launch radio and television. Its engineering excellence propelled airplanes into the sky and astronauts onto the moon. The company was among the pioneers of the computer age. And its innovations include such household appliances as the refrigerator, dishwasher, toaster, washing machine, and air-conditioner. To pay for them, GE even perfected layaway payments.  At the same time, GE innovated in areas like x-ray machines, radar, lasers, nuclear power, plastics, fiber optic cables, and eCommerce. As the parent company of NBC, GE was even behind ground-breaking programming like Seinfeld, ER, and Law & Order.

You could argue that wherever GE went, the world followed. While GE has always been ahead of its time in its time, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if some MBAs wondered if the company’s glory days have passed. Nowadays, students flock to what seems to be the next big thing, such as Facebook and Tesla, and GE itself has been in the midst of a major shift in strategy, shedding key parts of its iconic past, including plastics, appliances, and many of its financial assets. The changes are meant to return the company to its industrial roots and put some life into GE’s sagging stock value, while nurturing a culture based on  “speed and simplicity.”

“Frankly, I believe with all of my heart that, as a company, we are able to imagine things others don’t and build things others can’t,” says Leslie Coyne, director of global university recruiting at GE. in an exclusive interview with Poets&Quants.  “For that reason, we are making a difference around this world, where many other companies simply can’t play. I think that opportunity to be part of an organization that is truly changing society and have the opportunity to change our world is amazing.”

Last year, the company brought in 3,200 undergraduate and graduate interns, with 70% to 80% of its hires coming from the internship ranks. Approximately half of the company’s MBA interns are ultimately hired by GE. But students shouldn’t wait for GE to come to them; GE selects all of its summer interns during the fall.

Recently, Poets&Quants sat down with Coyne to learn what GE values in prospective MBA interns and employees. Wondering how you can increase your job prospects – or how the company’s culture has evolved in recent years? Check out this far-reaching interview with Coyne for the answers. 

General Electric Chairman & CEO Jeff Immelt

General Electric Chairman & CEO Jeff Immelt

What do you look for in a resume and background that many candidates might not consider? 

In general, we typically look for the same things that many companies look for, [such as] leadership and a passion to drive change and implement ideas. I think this idea of learning agility is one that has really taken off with GE, given the complexity of the world in which we operate. [It is] the idea of knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do and really trying to identify talent who can be flexible and adaptable and really learn from their past experiences and quickly apply those learnings in new settings. 

What kinds of skills does General Electric anticipate needing in the coming years that you may not possess enough of now (Languages, Technical Skills, etc.)?

We will continue to look for MBAs who have a technical undergraduate degree and feel that this combination (with an MBA) will be very powerful at GE. And that’s particularly true for those who have experience applying those skills before they have gotten their MBA.

I will also say that we will be looking more-and-more at individuals with an entrepreneurial background, experience or have even chosen entrepreneurship as a path in their MBA education…GE is on a quest right now to become known as a company known for its speed and simplicity – and to have our foundation built upon those principles. As we bring in new talent, we want them to come in with the mindset of thinking in startup style, but [also] able to navigate through a large organization.

The other thing I would mention is, as we look at the different functions where we hire MBAs, our HR program is one of those and I would say we are looking for MBA s with experience in analytics and database decision-making

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