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MBA Recruiter Interview: Sara Kalick, SYPartners

SYPartners

When it comes to consulting, you don’t need to work at a big firm to have a big impact. SYPartners, a New York and San Francisco-based firm, is a good example. The company – which has fewer than 150 employees – works with Fortune 100 CEOs, helping them to effect change within their organizations.


SYPartners was recently acquired by Japanese PR firm Hakuhodo, so it would not be surprising to see an expansion in the number of MBA jobs available at the firm in the not too distant future.

We spoke to managing strategy director, Sara Kalick, to find out what SYPartners is looking in its MBA hires.

What makes SYPartners different to other consulting firms?

So many things! But perhaps our biggest differentiators have to do with the clients we have and the challenges we’re asked to help them with. We primarily work with Fortune 100 CEOs and other members of their leadership teams in moments of seismic change – moments that require these leaders to drive real transformation in their organizations, which can often require drastically rethinking their assumptions about what’s possible in their industries. We equip and enable our clients with the clarifying vision and strategy to inform the change at hand, help scale that change throughout the organization by making it tangible and exciting to employees, and develop the new products, business models, and experiences that make the change real in the world for customers.

It’s work that combines analytical strategy and imagination – the thinking and the making – in equal parts, so members of our team bring truly hybrid skills to their roles. 

What are the most common job roles for MBA graduates at SYPartners? How much travel is involved in these roles?

For the past decade or so, we’ve recruited MBAs primarily into our strategy internship program, which lasts for roughly three months, in our SF and NYC locations. Because the work we do is so particular, it’s difficult to find talent who can immediately step into strategy leadership roles. With the internship program, people join for shorter bursts of time during which they operate as full-fledged members of our client teams doing real strategy work.

If it feels like a good fit at the end of the term and we need additional staff, then a conversation about full-time employment starts. If not, then interns move on with a significant new body of work under their belts. We try to have interns all year long and accept applicants from all over the world. That said, fluency in English is a must.

In terms of travel, it all depends on the client and project.

What do you look for when evaluating a candidate’s résumé and experience? 

When looking for interns – and employees overall – there is no magic formula or exact pedigree. For strategy interns, we're looking for candidates who possess the right mix of skills no matter where they came from. What does that look like? People with their finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist, people who can boil the ocean and come back with the insights that matter, people who can reframe problems to create new possibilities, storytellers, original and creative thinkers. 

Will the acquisition by Hakuhodo affect your future MBA hiring needs?

Because our internship program feeds into our strategy teams, it’s likely that any growth we have with additional offices or headcount will ultimately mean an increase in the number of people we need to bring in. 


Which business schools and MBA conferences do you recruit from and why?

We’re interested in the programs that attract and foster a reputation for having a diverse student body – programs like Yale SOM and the Rotman School of Management in Toronto. Our work requires us to bring unique ways of seeing the world to business challenges, and having a team that brings true breadth of experience along with business acumen to the table is critical.

Written by Nicole Willson

Nicole is the SEO manager of TopMBA.com, as well as a contributing author. She holds a BA in history and sociology, and a master's in library science. Aside from her work for QS, Nicole is a long-time contributing editor and administrator for WikiHow.

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