Wharton | Mr. Hopeful Fund Manager
GMAT 770, GPA 8.52/10
MIT Sloan | Mr. Healthtech Consultant
GMAT 750, GPA 3.44
Harvard | Mr. Navy Nuke
GMAT 710, GPA 3.66
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
London Business School | Mr. LGBT Pivot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
London Business School | Mr. FANG Strategy
GMAT 740, GPA 2.9
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
Harvard | Mr. CPPIB Strategy
GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Rice Jones | Mr. Student Government
GMAT 34 (ACT for Early Admit Program), GPA 3.75
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Columbia | Mr. Energy Italian
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
UCLA Anderson | Mr. SME Consulting
GMAT 740, GPA 3.55 (as per WES paid service)
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Quality Assurance
GMAT 770, GPA 3.6
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Aspirant
GRE 322, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Army Aviator
GRE 314, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63

Top Brands, Lower Salaries: Study

Nader Tavassoli of London Business School. Courtesy photo

Nader Tavassoli of London Business School. Courtesy photo

What’s in a name? Quite a bit according to some recent research coming out of London Business School: CEOs were willing to take a 12% salary reduction to spend time at a well-known company. Younger executives were even more likely to take significant pay cuts believing a strong brand name on their resume would lead to bigger returns down the road, the researchers found.

LBS marketing professor and guru Nader Tavassoli led a team of researchers to explore a hypothesis he’s been stewing over for about two decades. When he was entering the job market in the ’90s he was juggling several offers—one from then top-ranked MIT Sloan School of Management. After an uncomfortable and unsuccessful negotiation conversation, Tavassoli took a 30% salary reduction to work at Sloan. After all, it was the best.

Tavassoli began looking at salaries of his colleagues over the years and realized it was only the “secondary schools” that competed with salaries. “The top schools didn’t have to do that,” he claims. And so Tavassoli gathered a team of researchers to see if the same happened outside of academia. Their research suggests it does.

STRONG BRANDS CAN ‘LOWER THE COMPENSATION’ NEW EMPLOYEES ARE WILLING TO TAKE

The LBS team looked at salary amounts from 2000 to 2010 for more than 2,700 executives – 495 of them CEOs – at top companies. In all, the team examined more than 10,000 salary data points and crunched the data against Young & Rubicam’s Brand Asset Valuator (BAV) Model for brand strength. According to the study, the data from the model is “derived from the world’s largest study of consumer attitudes, beliefs, familiarity, and evaluation of different product brands.”

The model combines data on the “four brand pillars” – brand knowledge, esteem, differentiation, and relevance – and spits out “single brand asset measures.” According to the report, “brand strength negatively impacts pay and further lowers the total pay for CEOs and younger executives.” In other words, “firms with strong brands pay their top executives less than other firms, and … this effect is stronger for CEOs and for younger executives.”

The research suggests with strong brand power and marketing efforts toward recruitment of employees, companies should be able to hire better talent for less. “Our research shows that a strong brand can do more than help recruit; it can go as far as to lower the compensation that new recruits are willing to take,” the report reads.

So Tavassoli has created a MOOC to teach the methods. Specifically, the course examines “the employee-based view of brand equity,” which according to the report “emphasizes that strong brands can enhance earnings through cost reductions, making it possible for firms to employ key personnel more cheaply.”

In an interview with Poets&Quants, Tavassoli sheds more light on his research, gaps, and opportunities the research has identified, and what to expect in his MOOC.