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Situation analysis S G Cowen was acquired by Societe Genrale, an international bank in 1998.

Being a European bank it was looking to expand its operations in the US. Initially Cowen was known for its top tier research and strong equity sales and trading. However since its acquisition it focused on investment banking and M&A advisory services. S G Cowen had 1500 professionals and planned to remain a boutiqueSized firm having access to the parent firms balance sheet. Their new area of concentration involved investments in health care and technology, since both these sectors provided a strong growth in near future. Given that they had geographically expanded to various locations they emphasized increased interactions among employees from different offices (especially from smaller ones). This was important for information flow and to achieve well coordinated client activity. The banking industry, on one end of the spectrum saw periods of high growth where the recruiting yields were much higher than expected, and at the other end saw slumps where they had to fight for talent with other PE or VC firms. Currently SG Cowen and other banking firms faced a tremendous increase in number of recruits while business seemed to be slowing down. SG Cowens hiring process for new associates would begin in the fall. The company had shortlisted a group of schools (second tier) in order to focus on acquiring the best talent from these institutions. They chose the top rankers of these schools over the slackers from the top rated schools who would be willing to work at SG Cowen. This was a focussed strategy on the part of the firm in order to capitalize on talent that would be loyal, committed, possess requisite skills and have the required hunger. They would make presentations in the core schools, but resumes from non-core schools would also be accepted. The presentations focussed on educating the students about the company and the advantages of being a part of S G Cowen. The process after that comprises three stages. Each of these stages helped the company evaluate the candidate in one way or another. Different parameters were looked at different stages. The three stages and the decision points in each are as follows:

Informational interviews After the campus presentations, interested students were invited to visit the S G Cowen office and interact with the bankers there. Though this process was not evaluative, some amount of insight about the candidate could be gathered in this stage. Some decision points that were involved in this stage were: Chip Rae believed that this stage helped in selecting students who were actually interested in the firm. He believed that the students who wanted to be more prepared for the first round interviews will take the effort and visit the office. S G Cowen was a boutique firm and had an entrepreneurial culture. Most of the associates were given responsibilities and decision making power right from the start. Due to this, it was believed that if a student went the extra mile to know more about the company, he would fit well in the culture of the firm. That is why having a background as an entrepreneur helps the case of the candidate.

On campus round In the on-campus round, interviews were conducted to screen the candidates for Super Saturday. Interviews were conducted by the associates or senior associates from the firm. It was believed that the associates and senior associates would be more in tune with the requirements of the job and would be more rigorous at assessing skills. There were two rounds of interviews conducted and finally 3 candidates were shortlisted from the school. Some decision points considered at this stage are: The associates and the senior associates tested if the candidate had the required skill set and was competent enough to be a part of S G Cowen. As the banking sector required specific skills, this was an important criterion. How well the candidate fit in with the culture of the firm. Cultural fit encompassed things like the following will the person will be able to devote long hours, forego a social life and be able to adjust to a new location.

Super Saturday The students who were shortlisted in the on campus round were invited to the S G Cowen office for the final interviews. These interviews were conducted by the senior employees of S G Cowen. Each candidate had to go through five interviews and each interview lasted for almost half an hour. The major decision points which were considered while evaluating a candidate were as follows: Did the candidate excel at whatever he did before, even if it did not involve finance? It was very possible that a person had a different career choice before, but it was important he excelled at it. They looked for a pattern of success. Fennebresque, the CEO of the company, believed that it was essential for a person to like what he does at work. A person might be good at something, but if he doesnt like it, then there is no point in him doing the job. Therefore did the candidate truly like what he was applying for? Are they interested in technology and emerging markets? - S G Cowen was a boutique firm which focussed on technology and emerging markets. So a candidate who had an interest in these areas proved to be an asset. The banking industry, companies would have high turnovers as many employees would shift to a different firm. So, it was essential to have people who were loyal to the firm. Would the candidate be loyal? Do they have good interpersonal skills? - The work required the employees to interact with clients who were looking for people with energy and enthusiasm. Thus, interpersonal skills became an essential job requirement. Will they be good team players? - Most of the deals were the result of team activity. Therefore, good team players were needed.

Since most of the decisions taken at S G Cowen involved a lot of risk and responsibility, the candidates were expected to show maturity in their judgement. Therefore, how mature was the candidate? What was the level of technical knowledge they possessed Were the candidates flexible and versatile? Other important points to be noted in SG Cowens selection process are that only half of its new recruits at the associate level were MBAs graduating from college. The other half comprised of summer interns who had been given PPOs and analysts who had more than three years experience with the company. The current situation is that after the above procedure had been followed and the firm has finalized on almost all their candidates but they still have to decide on the final two candidates they must select. They have a choice between four candidates namely Natalya Godlewska, Martin Street, Ken Goldstein, and Andy Sanchez.