Get ‘Em While They’re Young

Northwestern Mutual’s Bryan Walwyn has only had one career. He heard about Northwestern Mutual when the company’s Boston network office invited his college football team to learn about internship opportunities. As an intern after his junior year at College of the Holy Cross, Walwyn helped clients achieve financial security through life insurance, disability insurance, education funding alternatives, and retirement, estate and business analysis expertise.

“Helping clients build plans that help them and their families reach financial goals — and being there with them in their time of need — it’s enormously rewarding both personally and professionally,” he said.

Walwyn said he grew up in an area where it wasn’t cool to do the right thing. As Northwestern Mutual’s college unit director, he wants to give back to the community to help kids see that being smart and investing in education is cool.

“Northwestern Mutual understands the importance of protecting families and leaving a legacy for children,” he said. “We take care of others. We help take care of the communities we live and work in.”

This culture has kept Walwyn invested in his work, and it’s a culture established by executives such as Steven C. Mannebach, the company’s vice president of field growth and development.

Almost 50 percent of the company’s field leadership — managing partners and managing directors — are former interns. Mannebach credits this to the company’s mission to enable diverse, young candidates to have a voice at the leadership table.

This year Northwestern Mutual will recruit more than 5,000 financial professionals, the biggest recruiting effort in its 155-year history. Mannebach said the company has seen an increasing need for financial professionals, and has set these recruitment targets to keep up with the market.

To reach its goal, the company has partnered with groups such as Association of Latino Professionals in Finance and Accounting, the National Association of Black Accountants, National Black MBA Association and National Society of Hispanic MBAs.

Mannebach said the internship program is the gateway to meeting the company’s goal and increasing its numbers in diversity. To date, Northwestern Mutual considers 30 percent of full-time recruits and 31 percent of interns as diverse candidates.

“Real-world experience is the most valuable way to learn and grow,” he said. “Nearly 34,000 students have become financial representative interns, and every wave of new college interns has changed our workforce dynamic. The more involved we get with diverse associations, partnerships and colleges, the closer we get to being a company that represents the market it serves.”

Similar to Northwestern Mutual, Enterprise Rent-A-Car has a management training program for recent graduates, which serves as an entry point to the company. New trainees go through about two weeks of orientation before they are placed in one of the company’s 5,500 locations throughout nearly 70 U.S. regional operations. They are assigned a mentor and trained via a combination of classes and hands-on work in day-to-day operations. After the nine- to 12-month program, trainees who pass a skills qualification test can apply for assistant manager positions throughout the company.

“We promote almost entirely from within,” said Chris Tabourne, assistant vice president of diversity and inclusion, Enterprise Holdings Inc. “Most of our senior management, including COO Pamela Nicholson, started as management trainees.”

The privately owned car rental company’s annual revenue rose from $3 billion in 1995 to more than $12 billion in 2010. In the same period, it increased its rental locations fourfold. Tabourne said part of the company’s growth can be credited to the management training program.

For those eligible, Enterprise also offers a management training internship program that mirrors the full-time program. Interns work alongside full-time trainees and current managers to learn to maximize profits and motivate a team of professionals.

Tabourne said 50 percent of interns turn into full-time hires. Of those new hires, more than 55 percent stick with the company after completing the formal management training program.

“It’s about building relationships with students in every pocket of the United States. We firmly believe that if we take care of our customers and employees, our profits will follow.”

According to Enterprise, 90 percent of Americans live within 15 miles of one of its locations. Tabourne said metropolitan statistical analysis combined with U.S. Census workforce diversity data helps

Enterprise measure the potential available workforce in the communities the company serves.
To reach minority students and mirror communities where it resides, the company partners with organizations such as the National Urban League, which reaches out to more than 50 historically black colleges and universities through the league’s Black Executive Exchange Program. Enterprise sends minority managers to these campuses to share their stories and serve as ambassadors.

Deloitte also does this. Diane Borhani, the company’s national director of campus recruiting, said Deloitte has more than 3,000 professionals at various levels and departments who participate in campus recruiting, even though they’re not within the HR organization. These individuals help recruit talent from targeted universities across the U.S. At select universities where Deloitte doesn’t have a strong presence, it posts positions and considers qualified candidates through a virtual review process.
“We want to hire students of all backgrounds, and that requires that we recruit from various academic institutions while also leveraging our global workforce and technology to identify the best candidates in the market,” Borhani said.

Virtual interviews are the first step for students identified through the Internet or through career services on campuses where there has been no visit. If there’s further interest by both parties, Deloitte will then fly candidates to a local office and proceed to the second round of interviews.

In addition to campus recruiting, the firm has arrangements with organizations such as The Posse Foundation, a nonprofit organization that identifies public high school students with academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes and places these students in supportive, multicultural teams, and ConnectEDU, a Web-based college and career planning services and platform developer. These arrangements help expose high school students to Deloitte and provide them with financial resources when necessary.

“Students today are educated consumers,” Borhani said. “They have access to information much earlier than they once did, regardless of their background, and because of that, data suggests they’re determining their careers sooner.”

Borhani’s team surveyed this year’s Deloitte college interns, and 56 percent said they determined their career path by high school.

Deloitte has established several early identification programs to connect with students in their first and second years in college. The company provides scholarships through its NextGen Leaders Program, where participants are eligible for a scholarship ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Deloitte’s National Leadership Conference connects with students predominantly in their sophomore year and offers the chance to apply for an internship.

Cisco is also tapping students early. In 1997, the networking program company created Cisco Networking Academy, which uses a public-private partnership model to create the “world’s largest classroom.” Cisco partners with educational institutions, nonprofits and nongovernmental organizations, governments and community centers that provide classroom space, computer lab equipment and qualified instructors to teach students networking and other information technology-related skills. This prepares them for jobs and for higher education in engineering, computer science and related fields.

As of 2012, there were more than 1 million active students in the academy, and Cisco has established 10,000 academies in 165 countries.

“We’re catching students early enough to give them training and information about the technology space that they may not have had visibility to otherwise,” said Laura McWhorter-Greenwald, staffing senior manager for global university strategy and programs, Cisco Systems. “We’re giving students certifications they’ll need on the job in the future and opportunities that were unheard of in the past.”

In 2008, Edgar Spikes, age 88, from the United States, and Irtaza Haider, age 13, from Pakistan, completed similar courses from the academy.

“We’re reaching out to students globally across a diverse set of channels and seeking individuals that bring unique experiences and perspectives to Cisco,” McWhorter-Greenwald said. “Oftentimes, identifying students isn’t the most challenging part. Tracking them over time, once we have made a connection and established interest, can be the biggest challenge.”

The hiring cycles for early-in-career talent can be long, since the company begins to engage them as early as high school. Effective pipeline management can convert these connections to hires over time. To address this challenge, Cisco has implemented a tool referred to as eCampus Manager internally to keep track of university recruits. Currently in the pilot phase, the customer relationship management tool ties students to particular activities and associations so Cisco can keep better track of them.

“Historically everyone had to be tracked through our applicant tracking system, and it became complicated because the timelines are long,” McWhorter-Greenwald said. “ECampus Manager ties students to events and sends them communication blasts regularly. We find that if we touch these folks multiple times to establish their interest in Cisco, converting them to full-time hires years down the line is much simpler than before.”

Cisco also partners with the James H. Ammons African American Male Leadership Academy summer camp, which provides tours of its headquarters for high school students and allows them to shadow the company’s customer advocacy lab organization, hosts Lego robotics demonstrations for high school students and provides scholarships to all children, regardless of race and gender, who make a commitment to study technology.

“We are giving unique individuals that show potential but maybe otherwise wouldn’t be noticed or even be interested in Cisco encouragement to explore more about technology and our company,” McWhorter-Greenwald said. “It’s about workforce development, not just in the United States and not just for those with diplomas in their hands.”