More than a manufacturer of M&M’s, Mars, Inc. is one of the world’s largest food companies. It is also not your typical MBA employer, and that’s not just because they are in the candy, gum and pet food industries. For example, the top three schools from which Mars recruits aren’t necessarily the ones you’d expect. In addition, the recruiting process consists of only two interviews, with an additional assessment day for those applying to its rotational program.
For an MBA who starts life at the company in its rotational program, “there is no one-size-fits-all entry-level position for MBA graduates coming in,” states Mars’ talent manager, employer reputation and university relations, Manuel Muñoz. The rotational program, which Muñoz says is, “not for the faint hearted,” allows MBAs to work in a variety of job roles and functions, requiring them to deal with lots of complexity and change. In this interview, Muñoz discusses Mars’, “humble and hungry,” work culture as well as what the company looks for when hiring MBAs.
Why do MBAs want to work for Mars?
MBA candidates want to work at Mars because our associates, as well as many candidates, can personally identify with our brands and mission. By drawing the connection between the brands people love and an exciting, impactful career path, we appeal to candidates in a different way from many consulting and technology companies. We’ve been around since before many of our millennial candidates’ grandparents were even born, and we have also been around longer than most technology companies. We are a trusted company, and it is appealing to envision a future with an organization people can identify with.
What are common job roles for MBAs at Mars?
The great thing about our rotational program is that there is no one-size-fits-all entry-level position for MBA graduates coming in. Our current rotational program design taps into the features of what the future career, or careers, will look like for many millennials. That is, a diverse range of functions, roles, segments and potentially geographies, and involves loads of complexity and change. MBA students also have the opportunity to join our business via the successful completion of a summer internship, typically in the marketing function, where they are able to work with some of our billion-dollar brands.
Which business schools do you hire from and why?
We look for schools that match our culture and that have a strong track record for producing associates with successful careers at Mars. For our business school recruitment, we’ve found success with Michigan State University’s Broad School of Management, Rutgers Business School and the University of Michigan Ross School of Business among others. These aren’t your typical top three business schools, but over time we’ve found that the students on campus are exactly what we’re looking for, and fit in seamlessly with our humble and hungry culture.
Could you please provide a brief overview of Mars’ MBA recruitment process?
Through our recruitment process, we aim to better understand a candidate’s leadership capabilities as well as what makes a candidate tick. Our process is strategic and streamlined – it’s typically only two interviews long, with an additional assessment day for our rotational program. We want to know more about a candidate but also have them learn about our business and culture by engaging directly with our associates.
What do you look for when evaluating a candidate's résumé and experience?
When interviewing candidates we really hone in on their behavioural skills and leadership capabilities. Ultimately, we look for learning agility as well as candidates that will fit into a culture which is very open, collaborative and relationship-based.
What opportunities do MBAs have for advancement?
While many associates are drawn to our company’s mission and sustainability efforts, we want them to recognize that they can have a career that makes an impact on society as well as money. We recognize the desire among associates, especially younger generations, to have new experiences for both their personal and professional growth. That’s why we enable them, through programs like the Graduate Leadership Development Program, to transition into different roles within Mars, if desired, that can put them on a path to a new career or the opportunity to live in a different place.
What are some common misconceptions MBAs have about working at Mars?
One of the things we hear on campus is that MBA students don’t realize the breadth and depth of opportunities available within the company. Students instantly recognize our iconic brands, like M&M’s, but don’t realize that Mars is one of the world’s largest food companies and the global category leader in pet care, chocolate and gum.
What should MBAs do to make a good impression? Conversely, what are some mistakes MBAs should avoid when contacting recruiters?
When we conduct interviews we look for candidates that are genuinely interested in our company, and that are going to be the right fit for our open, collaborative culture. A common mistake candidates should avoid is not being able to successfully articulate why they want to work in a specific function and, just as important, why they want to work for our company.
Is there anything else MBAs should know before applying for jobs at Mars?
Our rotational programs aren’t for the faint hearted; participants need to be comfortable handling the ambiguity and complexity that comes with working in different parts of the business across three years. We carefully select who joins the program to ensure that successful applicants will have every opportunity to join, stay and grow within Mars.