Amazon Now Hiring 1,000 MBAs A Year

Amazon

Amazon has become a leading hirer of MBA talent in recent years, often topping the lists of major employers at several elite business schools. But the extent of its appetite for newly minted MBAs had not been disclosed until now.

The e-commerce giant, which recently acquired Whole Foods and is now searching for a location for a second headquarters outside its base in Seattle, disclosed that it is now hiring about 1,000 MBA graduates a year. That would be a record for any MBA employer in history. The next closest employer–McKinsey & Co.–typically recruits little more than half that total at roughly 550 graduates while consulting rival Bain & Co. brings in approximately 500 MBAs annually.

While the popularity of consulting remains high as an MBA career choice, Amazon has largely taken up the slack from the financial sector ever since Wall Street imploded during the Great Recession of 2007-2008. The financial collapse caused many banks to rescind offers to recent MBA hires back then and to eventually cutback on MBA recruiting. In turn, many MBAs became less interested in careers with the financial sector where early careers often mean grinding hours of tedious work. Instead, a greater number of MBAs than ever before are attracted to jobs in the tech industry where recent graduates often are given more meaningful roles out of the gate.

As a result, Amazon which surpassed such tech giants as Microsoft, Google, and IBM in acquiring MBA talent years ago, is now eclipsing many of the global consulting and financial service firms. The tech company now hires more MBAs from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, UC-Berkeley’s Haas School, the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, and Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management than any other employer. The firm’s aggressive hiring of MBAs raised eyebrows two years ago when Amazon hired from Michigan Ross a record 59, or 18% of the 455 MBA graduates of the Class of 2015. That was more than twice as many hires that Amazon made from Ross only a year earlier.

AMAZON LOVES MBAS BECAUSE THEY BUY INTO THE FIRM’S SCRAPPY & ANALYTICAL CULTURE

Last year, Amazon brought aboard 31 full-time MBAs and six part-time MBAs from Ross and invited another 29 first-year MBAs to intern at the firm. At UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, Amazon is one of only two firms, with Deloitte being the other, that hired 20 or more MBAs from the school’s graduating class last year. At Vanderbilt’s Owen School, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos hired more than twice as many MBAs last year as the second-place employer, 16 vs. only seven at Deloitte Consulting. Three years ago, Amazon hired exactly half the number of MBAs from MIT Sloan as McKinsey & Co., 16 to the consulting firm’s 32. Last year, Amazon had closed the gap, employing only three fewer than McKinsey, 23 Sloanies to 26 who went to McKinsey.

The hiring binge has extended in recent years to overseas business schools. At INSEAD, largely known as a school that grooms management consultants, Amazon was the largest single non-consulting employer, hiring 35 MBA graduates. Last year, for example, Amazon became the top new employer of MBAs at INSEAD, hiring 35 graduates, nearly three times as many as Google. It was a similar story at London Business School where Amazon was right behind BCG, McKinsey and Bain, employing 13 MBA grads. And the same was true at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management where the Seattle-based company hired 23 MBAs, nearly double Google’s take and more than twice as many as Apple.

Amazon’s voracious appetite for roughly 1,000 MBAs was disclosed by Miriam Park, the company’s director of university programs in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. She says that MBA graduates get Amazon’s customer-obsessed culture and tend to be risk-oriented, scrappy and analytical, highly desirable traits at the company. Many MBAs fill the company’s future leadership ranks as senior project managers.

‘AMAZON HAS BECOME A TRAINING GROUND FOR MBAS’

Shashi Matta, heads up the full-time MBA program at the Fisher College of Business

Business schools expect Amazon’s hiring needs to remain high as evidenced by the vast number of MBA interns it took in this past summer. The company is already the top employer of MBA interns at Michigan Ross, MIT Sloan, Dartmouth Tuck, and Duke Fuqua. At the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Amazon took in more interns (31) than either McKinsey & Co. (25) or BCG (19), which until recently were the school’s top hirers of interns. That lays the ground work for Amazon to potentially emerge as the top hirer of Boothies this year after being in second place with 15 hires last year vs. Deloitte’s two dozen hires.

“It’s one of the smartest companies on the planet, and it has become a training ground for MBAs,” says Shashi Matta, faculty director of the MBA program at Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. “They are absolutely hungry for talent and growth.”

And many students are hungry for the lucrative job offers and career opportunities at a company that tends to give new MBA hires a fair amount of autonomy. Amogh Despandi, a second-year MBA at Fisher, spent his summer interning at Amazon’s Seattle offices as a senior product manager. He worked on a project, ultimately recommending that Amazon abandoned it. But then he proposed three other alternatives, one of which Amazon accepted. He was delighted with the autonomy and responsibility the company gave him an intern and accepted the full-time job offer that came at the end of his internship. Now, Amazon is giving Despandi a number of different opportunities to choose from when he goes back.

At the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, Amazon was recently named the recruiter of the year, in part for its recruitment of the school’s graduates from its master in business analytics.  “There is a growing interest in the technology sector among today’s students, which makes Amazon an appealing employer,” explains Maggie Tomas, director of Carlson’s Graduate Business Career Center. “This combined with Amazon’s commitment to hiring MBAs and seeing the value and scrappiness MBAs bring to a business that is so focused on customer and innovation made Amazon our top recruiter of MBAs.  We had eight full-time MBAs (between internships and full-time roles) and four MS in Business Analytics students go to Amazon this year and our students were unanimously thrilled with the opportunity.”

 
  • FWIW Amazon has locations in all the cities you list (though obviously not the mega hub that is Seattle).

    Perception aside, the real deal breaker for a lot of folks I think is the culture. That NYT a year or two ago really resonated with people I think, at least when I was in bschool.

  • David

    Amazon is certainly less prestigious than Google and Facebook, mainly because those two
    require more technical expertise and hence tougher interviews. Most PMs
    at Google and Facebook know how to code, for instance.

    I think there’s 3 main reasons why Amazon is not getting the cream of the crop at the top MBA programs.

    1. Prestige perception: fairly or unfairly, Amazon
    is still considered as a glorified online retail company. They are
    doing some amazing things, and Bezos is probably the best CEO in the
    country, but that is the perception. In contrast, Google/Facebook are
    seen as super sexy companies on the cutting edge (Facebook is retarded;
    the world will be a competition between Google and Amazon). Perception is reality, and MBAs are obsessed with prestige.

    2. Compensation: this is a problem as well when compared to its rivals. Amazon
    is notoriously frugal, and it is reflected in all areas. The company
    has a MAXIMUM base salary cap of just $160K, with the rest of the
    compensation coming from your signing bonus and RSUs that vest over 4
    years. Unlike other tech firms, however, where the vesting happens in
    equal increments, Amazon’s
    vesting is backloaded. In the first year, 5% vests, 15% in the second
    year, and then 20% every 6 months in years 3 and 4. This is a way of
    “trapping” Amazon employees to staying long-term. For MBAs, many of whom are in debt and need cash right away, this proposition could be a deal breaker. Let’s also not forget perks. At Amazon, there is no free food; even soft drinks are not free. And if you travel for work, Amazon will only pay for the cheapest coach flights, even for international flights.

    3. Seattle:
    LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION. Did I mention location? Yeah, I think I
    did. The notion that location does not matter is one of the biggest lies
    out there. For single people, especially, it is absolutely critical and
    will have an effect on one’s overall happiness. Let’s consider the fact
    that graduates of top MBA programs flock to a handful of cities. In the HBS class of 2017, 23% went to NYC, 15% went to SF Bay Area, and 14% to Boston. Only 4% ended
    up in Seattle. So from a network and social standpoint, it’s tough since
    most of your school friends won’t be in Seattle with you. The city also
    lacks the diversity, urban dynamism, and energy of the others. It’s
    essentially a glorified suburb and company town. And for single men,
    Seattle is probably the worst major U.S. city for dating. That matters. A
    LOT.

  • It is clear to me that the comments posted here do not come from former MBA students. MBA House is a school already with over 800 approved in top 25 MBAs around the World and all our students report that the MBA experience is one of the best they have ever had in life and that experience is realized in the job market. For a former MBA student, many job opportunities are revealed, and this lack of money-seeking choice, followed by exploitation and unhappiness, is much more recurrent for professionals with limited options in the job market, which is not the case of a professional graduate in a cutting-edge MBA. What makes a former high-end MBA student stay at Amazon is resiliency and commitment rather than ambition and thirst for justifying the choice to be an above-average professional.

  • MBAcareers

    To hmm and temper, I posted a couple of thoughts in response to your comments. I should have replied here instead of to Ex-Amazon but they follow below. Sorry about that, and hope it’s helpful to some extent.

  • MBAcareers

    Culture tends to be highly localized at most large companies, regardless of industry, so Amazon isn’t different in that regard. To say that any employer across the board is “great” or “terrible” is an oversimplication. Organizational culture is a complex equation with many variables and is not static, either, so what is true today may not be the case tomorrow.

    Additionally, to expect that any type of role would only ever be staffed with MBAs is unrealistic in most situations and does not minimize the value or “robustness” of a job. While a large company with volume hiring may leverage MBA recruiting to fill many/most of those needs, to think that “only” an MBA is good/special enough to do that job is a limiting attitude and one that gives the degree a bad stereotype. Appreciating the diversity of skills and perspectives that people with different backgrounds and credentials bring into any given organization, team, or role allows you to do your own job better and brings out the best in everyone around you.

    These perspectives are based on 20 years of MBA career services and recruiting experience. I am not advocating for or against Amazon as an employer, but think it’s important for prospective MBAs to understand some of these important nuances regardless of career interests.

  • Zach

    Amazon has also been the #1 or #2 recruiter at Johnson the past few years.

  • temper

    It is horrible employer, but most MBAs take the job because they have no choice. They just pretend to be happy but in reality they regret it specially that Operation Manager at amazon is not only for MBAs it accepts all sort of degrees, so most MBAs find themselves forced to take the job or stay unemployed. Other reason, is that, particularly international students, want the brand name of Amazon, for short term and then got better exit opportunities in other companies.

  • Ex-Amazon

    At Amazon it really depends on the team and your role. Some people have amazing experiences, while others struggle. Amazon doesn’t have a uniform culture.

  • hmm

    But isn’t Amazon a horrible employer? If MBAs are going to be treated horribly, should they simply just work for an investment bank who will at least pay them handsomely.