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S G Cowen New Recruits

Case Write Up --- Group 7 Section B

By: Sahil Saini Sahil Satiya SambhavTayal Saurabh Mishra 3/15/2011

The case of SG Cowen basically deals with the recruitment process followed by the company. It deals with the various stages of hiring process followed by the company in order to satisfy its increasing demand for talented associates. Since the company was expanding and was looking forward to extend into new horizons hiring was an important aspect for its overall growth and establishing its strategic goals. The case shows the various processes and issues that can crop up while recruitment process and the importance of finding employees that best fit with the organization. The case showcases that recruitment process forms a strong base for any firm to survive and prosper in the dynamic competitive market.

Let us first look at some of the basic facts about the firm S G Cowen. S G Cowen was acquired by Societe Genrale in 1998 which itself was an international bank. However being an European bank it was looking forward to expand its operations in 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 boutique-Sized firm having access to 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. Though they had geographically expanded to various locations they laid importance of increased interactions among employees from different offices especially from smaller ones this was important for information flow and to achieve a well coordinated client activity. As far as the contemporary market of investment market was concerned consolidation was widespread. The time period also represented a dip in profits forcing certain firms for lay offs thus retuning talent had become an important issue. In order to retain talent firms provided fixed bonus payments as well as profit sharing agreements. Moreover firms were developing guidelines to keep research teams independentfrom bankers and their clients in order to protect investors from following analysts and investing in stocks which were falling.

From the above scenarios it was clear that looking for talent pool for recruitment was the need of the hour. Though well established banks expected to witness and increased interest from students looking for jobs and seeking secured jobs. But on the contrary the interest among students seems to be dwindling. On top of that recruiting yields had gone higher and handling of new recruits seemed to be a mammoth task as business slowed down. Let us now analyse the various strategies and processes followed by SG Cowen to overcome the above issues and hire the best people that best fit with the organization.

The biggest base for recruiting purposes for S G Cowen was business schools. Hiring was done in early winter and spring for associates. Some positions of associates were filled by employees hired as analysts at end of three year period. Whereas certain associate positions were filled by interns and were offered full time employment at the end of their internship period. The firm targeted certain core business schools where presentations were made regarding the firm to provide first hand information to students. Before conducting any interviews the professionals from S G Cowen used to have informational interviews. These interviews helped not only S G Cowen but also students in assessing the firm. While targeting Business schools each school was assigned a team captain. These team captains were basically banking professionals and if possible in case they are alumni of a targeted B school would be assigned as team captain. S G Cowen had a somewhat different strategy while selecting the core schools its going to target for recruiting process. Rather than targeting the top 10 B schools the firm targeted the next top 15 schools among the top 25. This strategy was to attract the best students in the colleges rather than recruiting average students from the top 10 B schools. The firms presentations as mentioned earlier were used as means by team captains to give detailed information to students. This was necessary because S G Cowen was a boutique-sized firm and not a huge branded firm which mostly attracted students owing to secured jobs. At he same time the presentations showed the growth the firm provides as well as the employee empowerment enjoyed by the S G Cowen employees.

The presentations done by team captain were also beneficial from their point of view as their recruitment activities were included in their performance reviews done at year end. Let us now breakdown the recruitment process followed by S G Cowen into two parts one involving the campus and the other the super Saturday. Campus Rounds: S G Cowen followed two to three schedules at each campus. Initially an open schedule was carried in this schedule students were given a chance to sign up based on their interest. In the remanning schedules students were selected on the basis of their submitted resumes. The focus of first round of interviews was to look for students who could make it to the next process of super Saturday. This was done in order to save precious time of top management. This process was carried out at each targeted campus in order to get the appropriate number of students for super Saturday. The interviewees for these rounds were mostly year old associates since they had much more first hand experience of work in initial years. Moreover they would be better of in assessing the skills of potential future employees. At the same time while assessing skills the firm gave huge importance to watch out for students who would best suit the culture of the firm. Thus the firm not only concentrated on the technical aspect but also on the cultural aspects. It wanted to hire students who would accept and help in developing the work culture at the firm. Super Saturday: The super Sunday used to be the final stage of recruitment process where the candidates selected in the campus round would be further examined and interviewed.The firm held five half hour sessions between candidate and interviewee. The firms objective was to have full associate class of 30. The selected candidates were given off in investment banking the er ones which accepted the offer returned for orientation to meet banking groups which attracted them most.

Let us first consider stage wise improvements which can be done. 1) Selection of B schools: The firm as if now is much more concerned with the ranking of the B school rather when considering it for recruitment base. Rather than this they should concentrates on B schools which have courses relative to the requirements and have specific courses. For instance Tuck B School in Dartmouth has specific courses relative to investment banking. 2) Round 1 Interview: The firm used to use to make detailed notes and fill evaluation form. In this case a much more detailed evaluation should be carried out. A well structured evaluation form with more versatile questions should be incorporated. Moreover the records should be kept for future recruitment process. 3) Round 2 Interview: The firm could consider having more rounds. The new rounds however should concentrate more on the issue of cultural fit. More stress on personality testing could be carried out. Moreover the first round would be sufficient to analyse the technical skills of candidates. 4) Super Saturday: Though super Saturday had the presence of top officials. It had no intervention of interviewees involved testing of behaviour and personality of individual candidates. Since culture and personality fit was one of the main criteria being looked forward by the firm. Moreover since these round were the potential future employees using psychometric test would have proved beneficial as the company was is in need of people who were dynamic in thinking and fast learners Let us now look some overall improvements which could be done to improve the recruitment process 5) Using a better method of forecasting: A better forecasting method would have helped to increase the base of potential candidates. Moreover a more quantitative approach such as ratio analysis or scatter plot would have helped to reach a value. 6) Means of advertising: Using internet for job portals in association with B schools can help them to attract a much wider base and spreading information about their firm to potential candidates. Rather than relying on presentations and online FAQ could help in providing information at faster rate.

Let us now try to solve the dilemma of the candidate to be selected for hiring purpose. Looking at the requirements that S G Cowen is looking forward for the best fit for the company would be Natalya Godlewska cause of following reasons. She is an MBA student from Cornell which is one of the core schools for S G Cowen. Her performance has been formidable as she had the highest GPA. Moreover she has experience of 4 years in M&A field. The only reason for selection being in question is the cultural fit issue since she is not a native of US. However it seems that only her speaking capabilities are in question this issue can be easily resolved since she can be made to attend a variety of speaking courses. She has also shown the dynamic nature of hers as well as her fast learning capabilities cannot be undermined. The Second person to be selected for the position should be Ken Goldstein. He is an MBA student from Berkley. He has an experience of 5 years also he has been a consistent performer and rated among the top 5% in the firm. The only issue with Ken is that he has been married and would not be able to handle work and family matters and this might affect his work. However these are mere assumptions since Ken seems to be proficient enough and looks capable to handle work. Moreover the company should look at value Ken will be able to add to the firm.