Case Study of SG Cowen: New Recruits

October 12, 2010

Selecting the Candidate for Extending a Job Offer at SG Cowen

The recruiting committee of SG Cowen is facing an important decision in regards to selecting two persons from the pool of four remaining candidates after all definite “Yes” and “No” have been identified. Being the member of the Super Saturday hiring group from the company I would have to make a decision that would have a dual effect:

  • Being an associate of the company I am vested in its success which depends in a great degree on the quality of the employees working for the firm, including the quality of the new hires. 
  • Potential  mistake in identifying the right candidate who makes both functional and cultural fit for the company, especially giving approval to the candidate who turns a wrong fit later, might  bear some negative impact on my credibility and reputation among the colleagues and supervisors.   

Based on the two premises outlined above, I believe that the most suitable of the four is the first candidate, Natalya Godlewska. Not only does she have very strong academic credentials both from her MBA and undergraduate studies, but she also has excellent references from her previous employee. Among other positive characteristics of this candidate are her determination, ambition, and readiness to work hard. She also made an impression of a go-getter with a “can-do attitude” who radiated positive energy. 

The reservations of the two members of the recruiting committee about her stiffness, being uncomfortable during small talk, and her “less-than-perfect” English that would possibly affect her ability to work smoothly with the managers don’t really have much merit in my opinion. I believe she has proved her social skills in the work place by the fact that she had earned high marks from her previous supervisor. Also a comment about her English seems to be superficial. After all, she was able to master the graduate level courses at one of the top MBA programs in the USA, which require not only rigorous quantitative, but also qualitative skills, including high efficiency in oral and written communications. Most likely the comment about her English was referring to her accent. But I believe that even this idiosyncrasy might actually be a positive factor, adding a unique touch to her strong and remarkable personality in every other regard. As a matter of fact, her ethnic, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds are going to be a great contribution to the diversity of our company and could be leveraged to the benefit of the company in both attracting new and dealing with the existing clients from the similar backgrounds. In the increasingly becoming more and more globalized market place these qualities are really invaluable. Overall, she seems to be an excellent addition to our company, the fact which was picked up by the majority of the recruiting committee members, and put her originally at the top of the list of candidates for Super Saturday.

Selecting from the remaining three candidates seems to be a more difficult task. Each of them has some very strong positive qualities which our counterbalanced by the shortcomings that may turn detrimental for their future career with our company.

However, faced by the need to fill the remaining slot in the class of associates, I would support Andy Sanchez. The major concern about Andy is his undergraduate GPA, which raised some questions about his academic ability. Given the learning curve he would have to take if hired into SG Cowen, some managers were not sure if he would be capable to learn fast enough. However, his explanation of the low grades in the undergraduate studies – running his own extremely successful business while in college- is very plausible. If anything, he should be commended for being able to pull out two very major commitments at that age. His SAT and GMAT scores were quite high, which attests positively to his cognitive abilities. Therefore, removing the objections related to his past academic performance, I would concentrate on his positive traits: his genuine interest in investment banking and our company, his outstanding interpersonal skills, and entrepreneurial inclinations. All these qualities are a great asset in our profession and would make him a good fit for SG Cowen.

I would touch just briefly on the remaining two candidates, who would not make a cut. The main issue I see with Martin Street is his lack of genuine interest and commitment to our company. Even at the recruiting stage he already demonstrated a potential of being a high maintenance employee, as it was quite challenging to schedule him for Super Saturday, because he had multiple commitments for recruiting events at other firms. His motives are understandable, as he tries to secure employment after graduation, but it does not show that he is really interested in working with us.

The major concern about Ken Goldstein is somewhat along the same lines as about Martin Street, namely commitment to very demanding work conditions required from the first year associates. His family status, including two young children will be a major pull from the 24/7 work culture in investment banking. Being pulled between the work and family obligations may prove to be destructive for a person of his maturity level. Therefore he may turn to be unhappy with his situation and either underperform at work or look for another job, more accommodating to his family needs.