B-Schools Bullish On Impact Of Amazon HQ

Georgetown McDonough’s campus is less than five miles from Amazon’s new HQ in Northern Virginia. Georgetown photo

In Northern Virginia, Amazon plans to hire 400 people in 2019 and 1,180 in 2020 as it scales to 25,000 by 2030 and potentially 37,850 by 2034, according to the Washington Post. Eric Young, assistant dean of the MBA Career Center at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, says in the immediate term, McDonough will continue to partner with Amazon as they hire MBAs in Seattle and distribution centers around the world — but he adds that Georgetown MBAs “will be very excited for available positions in the D.C. area, as many of our students come to the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area to study, build careers, and start families.” Young notes that 37% of Georgetown MBAs accepted positions in the mid-Atlantic region in 2018.        

The Amazon move, Young says, is the latest development in a decade-long shift in the region. Long focused on the federal government and government contracting, the area “has expanded its business footprint over the past decade. It is a strong destination for careers in biotech, hospitality, financial services, and real estate, with a growing tech, startup, entrepreneurship, and venture capital businesses,” he says. In response, Georgetown has seen its MBAs increasingly move into the tech space.

“The number of full-time Georgetown MBA students who have joined tech companies has grown from 9% to 17.5% the past four years,” Young tells P&Q. “Amazon’s HQ2 in Northern Virginia should only accelerate that trend for Georgetown McDonough MBAs. Amazon hires MBAs into product management, program management, and operations positions and offers finance and retail MBA leadership development programs (LDPs), so Amazon offers opportunities across various functions which is attractive to MBA students.”


Young, whose area of focus with the MBA Career Center is technology, media, entertainment, and sports Industries and entrepreneurship, says the popularity of technology companies and companies that are fast-paced, agile, and pivot quickly, fail fast, are data-driven, scale far and wide —  in short, companies that act like entrepreneurial startups — is growing. “All companies are becoming tech companies and need to be mobile, if not global, to keep pace with tech companies that already are,” he says.

Young says Amazon’s decision to choose Northern Virginia was not a surprise. He’s discussed as much with many of the 75 or so Georgetown alumni who currently work for the company, including 50 Georgetown MBAs work at Amazon across the US, Asia and Europe.

“Every time I would speak with Georgetown alumni at Amazon the past year, we would wonder if the D.C. area would get HQ2,” he says. “I thought we had a good shot, with a well-educated population, three major airports, a large AWS presence, and Jeff Bezos’ new home and business interests here.”

The move is especially good news for MBAs from Georgetown, he says, since the school is less than five miles from the company’s chosen location.

“Amazon’s HQ2 across the Potomac River from Georgetown is great news for Georgetown MBAs — and all MBA programs, offering two U.S. East Coast headquarters in major metropolitan areas,” Young says. “Our Georgetown McDonough MBA Career Center has developed a very strong relationship with Amazon Talent Acquisition Team over the past five years, and we’ll look to deepen the relationship and support Amazon’s new recruiting efforts in the D.C. area going forward.  We have already reached out to welcome them to our nation’s capital and we are eager to support their recruiting efforts.”

Young cites Amazon’s slogan — “Work Hard. Have Fun. Make History.” — as reflective of the ambition of Georgetown McDonough MBAs. “Amazon offers a variety of challenging roles for MBA graduates that involve cutting-edge technologies and work practices that are changing how business is done, which makes it an such an attractive career destination,” he says.


Arthur Dong. Georgetown photo

Arthur Dong, professor of strategy and economics, is an expert in competitive strategy and has written on the HQ2 search and its potential impact. He says Georgetown McDonough, as one of the most proximate schools to the new Amazon location in Crystal City, views the news “with a great deal of enthusiasm.”

“They are presently our No. 1 employer in the MBA program,” Dong notes. “They are very familiar with our program and they are very familiar with the product that we produce, and that being said, I think this bodes very well for the future of this school — because these types of decisions are not short-term decisions. Once Amazon decides on a location, that’s a multi-year or even multi-generational sort of commitment. That places us in a really sweet spot right now.”

Dong foresees that McDonough will likely adjust its curriculum to accommodate Amazon’s proximity to campus and “further reinforce our association with this company. We need to prepare our students for future roles at Amazon.” Moreover, he adds, McDonough — and other area B-school — may draw attention from MBA prospects interested in tech careers who might otherwise have looked elsewhere.

“A lot of people are going to draw that conclusion,” he says. “And certainly we’re going to help promote that conclusion in our admissions strategy.”


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