Jana Cain and I (Grace Yokoi) spent a few days in LA over the summer meeting with companies and alumni in consumer retail. Company sizes varied: very large /public, large/private, medium-sized/growing, very small. Below are our insights.
THE HONEST COMPANY
We met with the head of HR and Facilities, who gave us a company overview. As of July, the company was 235 employees across LA, Ontario (fulfillment), and Austin (call center). Their original line was “essentials”, comprised of 17 products. They have been growing product lines (oral care, vitamins, cleaning products). In June 2012 they launched as an ecommerce/subscription business, but in April 2013 started a push into retail (Target, Costco, with limited products).
They’ve been focused on senior-level hiring to build out some of their functions. They look more for skills and functional capabilities than they do a CPG background. The interns they’ve had so far have gotten connected either through their investors, or through referrals from friends. This summer there was a Wharton intern in the operations team who focused on two things: potential expansion, and processes/procedures for sourcing materials. This intern had this locked down in February.
They are looking into expanding into a more formal recruiting program, but will still rely heavily on word-of-mouth and internal referrals. Recruitment for any new opportunities will begin in late January.
(See the latest news on them) Kara Nortman (MBA ’04) welcomed us to the Moonfrye office, showed us their products, and talked to us about the business. What was important to her in starting the company was to work on a technology-enabled business that allowed women to do things that are most meaningful to them. They target the “party city snob”– moms who want to have high-quality parties for their children but are short on time. Their competitors are Party City, Oriental Trading, and Party Express. This meeting was important to us not only because of the potential for internships, but also because we know Kara to be an amazing mentor and manager. This was apparent in how she treats her 15 employees: she has recognized their talent and promoted them very quickly into big roles.
At Nestle we met with a recruiter to learn more about their MBA hiring. Nestle as an entity is broken out into five divisions that all recruit and operate autonomously:
- Nestle Purina
- Nestle Nutrition/Life Sciences, which includes Gerber
- Nestle Water
- Nestle Professional (which services restaurants and other commercial accounts)
- Nestle USA (pretty much all of the food)
The bulk of Nestle USA’s recruiting effort is focused on internships. It has just one graduate program, in Marketing. The great news for GSB students is that Nestle has moved away from core versus non-core recruiting and now takes a more digital approach to attract talent. They post to approximately 19 school job boards as well as host webinars. Recruiting gets in full swing from November to January, with final round interviews taking place in February.
Interns are placed in one of the three US hubs – Glendale, CA, Ohio, and Oakland, CA. Internship candidates must have US Work Authorization. For full-time hiring, interested candidates should check the Nestle careers website. They are open to hiring new MBAs that did not do a CPG internship.
Roll Global is a privately-held business of POM Wonderful fame (they do a lot more than that). We started our morning by meeting with the Director of Strategy from Roll Global’s strategy consulting group – the group in which all new MBA hires start. The group is largely comprised of ex-consultants and is used as a pipeline to supply to talent to the other business groups in the company. Once candidates have spent roughly 2 years in the group they can then move on to brand-based projects throughout the company.
New this year will be opportunities for MBAs in the marketing function. Interested candidates will need to have an extensive marketing background to be considered a good fit.
After a full morning of traveling back and forth across the valley, we were thrilled to meet with one of the co-founders of Beyond Meat. Founded as an 100% plant-based meat alternative, this is a truly innovative company that is growing quite rapidly. They launched their branded product in 2013 and were already getting picked up by Whole Foods and Safeway as of early July 2014. Their focus continues to be exclusively on meat (no prepared foods).
They don’t have any full-time MBA hires yet, though they did have two MBA interns (gotten through networking/referrals). They are likely to begin recruiting in the spring.
TIEKS by Gavrieli
Although Tieks have been a bit too pricey for Jana and me, we were excited to reconnect with the founder, MBA ’08 Kfir Gavireli. We were inspired by his story of bootstrapping (to this day) his company and being very focused on the web-only fashion brand. He spoke to us of the early days and all he had to learn, as well as the challenges of manufacturing and building relationships with factories. He works with his sister and brother-in-law, and have 42 employees. He hasn’t thought it makes sense to hire on any MBAs without direct, relevant, applicable experience, but he is a wealth of knowledge on the industry and was very generous with his time. It was one of my favorite meetings.
Grace and I were quite impressed when we arrived at the Nastygal offices. Truly a hidden gem in a classic (read: nondescript) highrise in downtown L.A., the Nastygal offices looked and felt more like a Silicon Valley startup than an apparel manufacturer. We met with a member of Nastygal’s People and Culture (HR) team to get the inside scoop on how the company attracts and retains talent.
First and foremost, all hiring at Nastygal happens just-in-time, including internships. Internships are paid but they’re not MBA specific and are only part-time (2-3 days per week). The team is looking into the feasibility of a more formal program that could incorporate a full-time offer at the end. On the full-time side, they do have a year long strategy externship for MBAs, which can be a good fit for an ex-consultant. Once inside the company, the People and Culture team runs the “Summer School Program”, which encourages employees to hold skills training workshops for each other.
Nastygal sources most of their hires from LinkedIn and internal referrals. They’d also be happy to accept resumes from the CMC, so if you’re interested in learning more about open opportunities, let Grace or I know!
The HR folks we met asked us many questions on how a summer internship might be structured to be valuable to MBA students. They have just started thinking this through, and want it to be a great experience for students. They talked about the company as very fast-moving, where priorities change quickly. They had 9 summer interns (not MBA) this year. Each intern worked in a specific area (supply chain, sales, marketing, ecommerce, etc) and they also all did a group project together. We look forward to seeing where they will go with regards to MBA recruiting.
We met with Megan Williams (GSB ‘09), who is currently a Brand Manager. Megan provided some valuable insight into Neutrogena’s recruiting. First and foremost, the company relies heavily on their internship classes to fill their full-time hiring needs. Once on board, however, interns are not guaranteed to get a full-time offer for the same location where they did their internship.
Neutrogena recruits heavily from the diversity conferences, so it is recommended that candidates connect at one of the large fall conferences in advance of applying. The application process begins with the online application to Johnson & Johnson, indicating a location preference. The company will look outside of their intern pool for full-time roles if they have more open roles than qualified intern candidates.
DISNEY CONSUMER PRODUCTS
We met with our recruiter at the Disney Consumer Products corporate offices in Glendale. After touring the offices and viewing the upcoming product releases, Joel shared information about Disney’s consumer products group and their recruiting process.
Disney Consumer Products works closely with their publishing group to leverage Disney storylines into consumer products for the public. The product portfolio not only includes toys, games and apparel, but also additional books and publications as well as digital media (apps, online games, etc). MBAs hired into the Consumer Products group could work in any one of those product categories.
All of Disney’s hiring from the GSB will be handled through one central point person. This will be for all roles (corporate, studios, ABC, ESPN, etc). Full-time roles tend to be just-in-time hires. Internship recruiting will begin in late fall into winter.
Ashley Lewis (MBA ’12) is on the global brand team for Barbie at Mattel. She loves the job as it’s a blend of creative and analytical. The global brand teams set the strategy for the product, and pricing, and think about what the line should look like. They work with the design team and engineers to create the line. Ashley got the fulltime job by networking with a friend of a friend who worked at Mattel. Mattel does not seem to have much of an on-campus presence anywhere; they buy the resume books for Anderson, Booth, Marshall, and Vanderbilt (likely because they have strong alumni representation there). Our advice would be to talk to Ashley if you are interested in Mattel.