It’s a pretty well-known fact that McKinsey, Bain and BCG, among the world’s most voracious hirers of MBA talent, are the top three major employers at Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. McKinsey leads at Harvard and Stanford, while BCG tops the list at Wharton.
But what about the rest of the major recruiters of MBA talent from these three business schools? If you want the answer to that question, don’t go to the MBA employment reports published by the schools. All three business school giants keep the major employers of their MBAs under wraps.
Now, for the first time, an extensive analysis of MBA recruits by Menlo Coaching, the premium MBA admissions consulting firm, has pulled the curtain back on exactly which firms are hiring in a big way from these schools. Menlo Coaching’s research team analyzed 51,991 student profiles on LinkedIn to get to the bottom of it. What does the analysis reveal?
SURPRISES, SIMILARITIES & DIFFERENCES IN WHO HIRES MBA TALENT FROM HARVARD, STANFORD & WHARTON
“Harvard, Stanford and Wharton have some things in common: all of them placed strongly at McKinsey, Bain, BCG and Google,” says David White, a founding partner of Menlo Coaching. “At Harvard, the vast majority of top employers were leading global brands, whether in finance (KKR, Blackstone, Bain Capital), tech (yes, all of FAANG were among their top employers), or even consumer products (Estée Lauder). The only emerging company to make the list of top recruiters at HBS was June Motherhood, a startup that came out of the Rock Accelerator at HBS.
“On the other hand,” he adds, “around one third of the top employers at Stanford were startups or smaller companies, including multiple companies started by Stanford GSB founders. Some of these startups were based outside the US, such as Muni Tienda, an ecommerce platform in Latin America. At Wharton, there was a mix of everything. Although the leading consulting firms and investment banks were well-represented, Wharton also placed well at exciting tech companies (TikTok, DoorDash), in private equity (H.I.G. Capital hired numerous graduates), and in healthcare.”
How useful to applicants are these stats? They may very well have more entertainment value than anything else. As White notes, “lists of top employers don’t reveal everything. At each of the programs, there were also exciting employers that hired only one or two graduates in 2020.”
THE STATS REVEAL SEVERAL BIG TRENDS IN MBA HIRING OVER THE YEARS
Evident in the stats are some of the big trends in MBA hiring. The bulge bracket banks now employ fewer MBA graduates than they used to and have largely been replaced by several of the tech giants, most notably Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and the global consulting giants. Some 20 years ago, Goldman Sachs was the number one financial recruiter at Wharton, carting away 42 MBAs from the Class of 2000. Last year, Goldman hired half a dozen, less than Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, Evercore or H.I.G. Capital. BofA/Merrill hired just eight Wharton MBAs in 2020, less than half of the 27 Merrill alone employed out of the Class of 2000.
Meantime, MBB still displays a voracious appetite for MBA talent from Wharton. In fact, Boston Consulting Group has more than doubled their hires from the school in the past 20 years, bringing aboard 56 Wharton grads from the Class of 2020, up from a mere 22 in 2000. McKinsey’s hiring is roughly the same: 56 last year and 61 some 20 years ago. Ditto for Bain & Co. which employed 26 out of the Class of 2020 vs. 34 from the Class of 2000.
The days when a lot of firms hired MBAs by the boatload are long gone, with only MBB left. Look back those 20 years at Wharton and it took ten hires from a single class to make the Top Ten major employers. Today, a company need only hire a pair of Wharton grads to make its Top Ten list.
STANFORD MBAs HAVE A CLEAR PREFERENCE FOR STARTUPS, EARLY-STAGE COMPANIES, VC AND PE FIRMS
The other big trend goes to the ambitions of today’s MBA graduates. More than ever, they want to graduate into roles that allow them to have immediate impact. That is why so many Stanford MBAs gravitate to startups and early-stage companies that provide greater responsibility off the bat and more opportunity to make a difference to the hiring organization. This trend is most pronounced at Stanford in part because so many entrepreneurially driven students are naturally attracted to the school and because they are surrounded by a startup culture and ecosystem that knows no peer.
Among the 24 major employers at Stanford last year, more than a third–at least nine–qualify as startups or early-stage players that few would immediately know about. The include Rested, DataFleets, Muni Tienda, Sagelink, Stealth Startup, Check, FarmRaise and Juni Learning. And then there is DoorDash and Peloton. Compare that to the
the 28 largest employers at Wharton: only two would quality as startups or early-stage companies: DoorDash and TikTok. Of the 25 biggest hirers at Harvard, there’s one startup but also Netflix and Lyft.
Often times, smaller elite firms that crop up on these lists have founders who are alumni of the schools. Consider Owl Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital fund that invests in the world’s leading education technology companies. Though Owl recruited only a pair of Stanford MBAs last year, it puts the firm among the Top Ten, tied with 14 other employers. But a Stanford MBA is nearly a prerequisite to work there. Co-founded by Stanford MBA Tory Patterson in 2014, all four of the VC fund’s managing directors and three of the five principals sport Stanford MBAs on their CVs. The one MBA interloper among the principals is a Harvard Business School grad.
DELOITTE NOT ALL THAT SUCCESSFUL IN HIRING Harvard MBAs OF LATE
No less interesting is who’s not on these lists. Who would have thought that Deloitte Consulting, now among the top ten employers at Wharton and Stanford, would have so little success at Harvard Business School. Last year, more Harvard MBAs began employment at June Motherhood, a digital health startup that offers virtual pregnancy and postpartum support for women, than Deloitte which doesn’t make this list of Harvard’s top 28 employers of the Class of 2020. There’s a catch here, of course. The startup was founded in 2020 by three Harvard MBAs so each of them qualifies as a co-founder of the company. By the way, two of the three used to work for Deloitte.
Apple pops up at both Harvard Business School (4) and Stanford (3) but doesn’t make the list of major employers at Wharton, though the company also recruits on the Philadelphia campus. Goldman Sachs hired at least six Wharton MBAs and five Harvard MBAs last year, but was nowhere to be found among the major employers at Stanford.
(See the following pages for more detailed tables of the major employers at each school: Harvard, Stanford and Wharton)
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