Wednesday, June 23, 2010

the recruitment of human assets

I recently picked up Karen Ho’s Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street. Reading about recruitment at elite universities brings back memories of investment banking and management consulting propaganda. Note their profligate use of words that suggest opportunity and elitism.

David Pyle, Managing Director of Fixed Income at Morgan Stanley at a Princeton recruiting event, 2000:

Our goal is to be the preeminent global firm, to be what we already are, the top. We want people coming into work every morning knowing that we’re at the top and always striving to be at the top. We are global; if you’re not global, you can’t win…. People are our single most important asset… Our people are the smartest in the world… There is no one in the world that we can’t reach and that’s middle of everything. We have huge reserves of capital and human assets, and we want to recruit the type of person that always wants more, who is not happy being second… Our theme is “network the world”.

From a Morgan Stanley Dean Witter 2001 recruitment ad:

Anything is possible. This is where the generation of new ideas lives. Because we’ve built a global network of people who see possibilities where others see confusion and risk—and who know how to turn those possibilities into realities. And by working at internet speed- propelling dozens of companies and millions of investors into the new economy. We are propelling careers all over the world.

These messages compelled confused and anxious undergraduates into hours of resume writing, recruitment presentations and interviews. For those of us who have spent a lifetime climbing the meritocracy ladder, investment banking and management consulting is a comforting next step compared to the prospect of actually figuring out how to live our lives. These careers promise prestige, excitement, learning, wealth and endless opportunity--- who could refuse? And it is only expected that we would be attracted to institutions that reproduce the elitism and selectivity of the colleges we attend. If the future is uncertain, we should strive to preserve the privilege of our Ivy League educations in the most secure way possible. *

And so, in 2010, even after the financial crisis of 2008, investment banking and management consulting recruitment remains attractive and competitive.

* Teach for America has taken advantage of this by being super selective in order to create an “elite cadre of teachers”…. For us organization kids, we need achievement paths.
** All recruitment excerpts taken from Karen Ho's Liquidated


Nicholas said...

Powerthirst - Anything is possible!

M. Weed said...

Being a deadbeat is way more fun than constant ontological insecurity.

Nicholas said...

Remember when you had a blog?