The Employers MBAs Love … And The Ones They Love Less

Businessmen with balloons

Lauren McGlory knows what it’s like to feel fulfilled, valued and important in a workplace. She also knows what it feels like when you’re not. And like countless other newly minted MBAs from top business schools, she prefers the former. “To me, culture played a huge role over any type of compensation,” says the 28-year-old of her decision to take a full-time offer as an associate marketing manager in the Frito-Lay division of PepsiCo. “In my mind, peace of mind is priceless. I can’t put a price on that.”

According to aggregated data released exclusively to Poets&Quants from TransparentMBA, the graduating MBA from Emory’s Goizueta Business School made the right choice. No other company has more satisfied MBAs than PepsiCo. TransparentMBA, essentially a Glassdoor for MBAs founded by a team of graduating MBAs from Chicago’s Booth School of Business. The firm compiles self-reported job satisfaction and cultural data from more than 1,500 current and recently graduated MBAs working full-time or interning at 32 companies.

PepsiCo topped of a list of major MBA employers, scoring an average “overall job satisfaction” of 8.7 (on a one to 10 scale with one reflecting extremely low job satisfaction and 10 reflecting the highest possible satisfaction). Up next were tech behemoths Microsoft and Apple, with scores of 8.4 and 8.3, respectively, with ZS Associates and Barclays rounding out the top five. 3M, Credit Suisse, Facebook, PwC Advisory, and Fidelity Investments all scored in the top ten.

“I would say the data is more confirming than surprising,” says Kevin Marvinac, a TransparentMBA co-founder. Considering no employer had an average job satisfaction score lower than five, Marvinac believes most MBAs are generally pleased with their jobs.


However, PepsiCo’s top spot certainly comes with a caveat. The sample size for the PepsiCo data is based on just 10 respondents and represents the lowest sample size of the 32 companies rated on this first list (Deloitte has the largest sample size with 178 completed reports). Still, as McGlory notes, the company has worked hard to create a culture and workplace that appeals to a generation increasingly interested in work-life balance and a career with impact.

McGlory, a Consortium fellow, was drawn to PepsiCo before stepping foot on Goizueta’s Atlanta campus. The Detroit native noticed PepsiCo’s “up-beat energy” at Consortium’s pre-MBA Orientation Program. During her summer internship in the marketing department of PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, she was given immediate access to Ram Krishnan, PepsiCo’s chief marketing officer. Particularly, McGlory says, she felt valued and part of the team from the get-go, sitting in on meetings with Krishnan. “As an intern, to have access to that was unbelievable,” says McGlory. “Typically you don’t get to be part of those types of meetings.”

For Armin Hoebart, a graduating MBA from UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, he was not only not treated like an intern, no one knew he was an intern. “Nobody within the company or outside the company knew I was interning,” says Hoebart, who spent a summer as a global supply manager at Apple. Before completing his internship, Hoebart, 30, was sent on a 10-day trip to Shanghai where he met with suppliers he had built relationships with throughout his internship. “I was surprised they sent interns overseas,” Hoebart admits. “But I wasn’t seen as an intern.”


While companies such as PepsiCo, Microsoft and Apple won kudos from MBAs grads and interns for the impactful and meaningful work they’ve been given, other blue chip companies didn’t fare nearly as well. Several of the largest recruiters of MBA talent, such as Deloitte, McKinsey, Citigroup, Amazon, Morgan Stanley and Bank of America, all scored less than 6.4 for an overall job satisfaction rating. At the very bottom were General Electric and Ernst & Young, which each scored five. GE did not respond to a request for comment and Ernst & an E&Y spokesperson said the firm “would not have any insights or statements to provide at this time.”

Still, as Marvinac points out, a low score in one category could certainly sabotage a company’s overall rating. For example, General Electric had an average cultural rating of 3.3, the lowest score of any company in any one of the four categories measured, including overall job satisfaction, culture, impact and whether you would recommend the company to a friend. Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which had an overall job satisfaction rating of 5.2, scored a less-than-stellar 4.6 on whether an MBA would recommend the company to a friend.

The data also reveals some interesting trends. First, smaller firms seem to do better in the survey than bigger companies. For instance, ZS Associates, which boasts roughly 4,000 employees and was founded by Northwestern Kellogg School of Management professors in 1983, is tied for fourth with an overall job satisfaction rating of 7.8. Long standing consulting goliaths like PwC, Bain and A.T. Kearney trail with job satisfaction averages of 7.4, 7.3 and 7.3, respectively.

Marvinac believes the reason smaller firms such as ZS Associates and L.E.K. Consulting (around 1,000 employees) performed well is because of deeply engaging cultures. “It’s not the Bain, McKinsey or BCG name but here it’s performing really well,” Marvinac notes. “L.E.K. Consulting has a strong culture and knows really well how to match that culture to the people they hire. The high job satisfaction scores are a result of that.” While L.E.K. tied with Wal-Mart and Kraft Heinz for overall satisfaction, all scoring seven, its average score for recommending to a friend was a whopping nine on that ten-point scale. The only other company with a score as high as nine for recommending to a friend was ZS Associates.

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