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Case analysis : SG Cowen New Recruits

In partial fulfillment of the course on Managing People and Performance in Organizations Submitted to: Prof. Ravi Kumar

Submitted by Harsha Jyoti Malviya (1211343) Ishan Vishnoi (1211346) Karthik P (1211347) Kavya Gollavilli (1211349) Koneti Nishitha (1211350) Rajani Ch(1211368) Ritesh Yarlagadda (1211372) S.Sairam(1211376) Soumya Basu (1211385)

SG Cowen is a financial industries firm based in the United States. The firm is looking to recruit for its Associate program. The case outlines the methods, process and decision criteria that the company uses to arrive at the final decision. We have studied and assessed these processes, criteria using the models from the course book and material and have suggested improvements wherever possible. We have also designed a linear model that will allow the firm to standardize and quantify the various criteria it uses in its hiring decision. Using this linear model, we have assessed 4 candidates that the firm is looking to hire and pinned down the 2 most eligible candidates

Situational analysis - The hiring process and decision points at each stage
The hiring process for new associates used to begin in the fall. The company would make presentations in the core schools, but resumes from non-core schools would also be accepted. The presentations focussed on educating the students about the company and the advantages of being a part of S G Cowen. The process after that can be broken up into three stages. Each of these stages helped the company make a decision about the candidate and is a key decision point for the firm. Different parameters were looked at different stages. The three stages and the decision points in each are as follows: Stage 1 - Informational interviews After the campus presentations, interested students were invited to visit the S G Cowen office and interact with the bankers there. Though this process was not evaluative, some amount of insight about the candidate could be gathered in this stage. Some decision points that were involved in this stage were: Is the candidate interested in the company? - Chip Rae believed that this stage helped in self selecting students who were actually interested in the firm. He believed that the students who wanted to be more prepared for the first round interviews will take the effort and visiting the office. Is the candidate a self starter? - S G Cowen was a boutique firm and had an entrepreneurial culture. Most of the associates were given responsibilities and decision making power right from the start. Due to this, it was believed that if a student went the extra mile to know more about the company, he would fit well in the culture of the firm. That is why having a background as an entrepreneur helps the case of the candidate. Stage 2 - On campus round In the on-campus round, interviews were done to screen the candidates for the Super Saturday. These interviews were conducted by the associates or senior associates from the firm. This was because Rae believed that the senior employees should be involved in the final interviews and on closing offers. It

was also believed that the associates and senior associates will be more in tune with the requirements of the job and will be more rigorous in assessing the skills. There were two rounds of interview conducted and finally 3 candidates were shortlisted from the school. Some decision points which are considered in this stage are: Does the candidate have the required skill set for the job? - The associates and the senior associates tested if the candidate was competent enough to be a part of S G Cowen. As the banking sector required specific skills, this was an important criterion. Is there a cultural fit between the candidate and the company? - Chip Rae believed that having a cultural fit was more important than a person who lacked a bit in the skills. The cultural fit included things like if the person will be able to devote the long hours, to forego a social life and be able to adjust to a new location. Stage 3 - Super Saturday The 30 students who were shortlisted in the on campus round were invited to the S G Cowen office for the final interviews. These interviews were conducted by the senior employees of S G Cowen. Each candidate had to go through five interviews and each interview lasted for almost half an hour. The major decision points which were considered while evaluating a candidate were as follows: Do they demonstrate a pattern of success in their past life? - Schoenberg believed that what a candidate has done in the past did not matter much in choosing the ideal candidate. It was very possible that a person had a different career choice before, but he excelled in whatever he did. Such a candidate proved to be a good candidate. Will they really love working at S G Cowen? - Fennebresque, the CEO of the company, believed that it was essential for a person to like what he is doing in his job. A person might be good at something, but if he doesnt like it, then there is no point in him doing the job. Are they interested in technology and emerging markets? - S G Cowen was a boutique firm which focussed on technology and emerging markets. So a candidate which had an interest in these areas proved to be an asset. Will they be committed to the firm and be loyal to the firm? - In the banking industry, the company used to have high turnovers as many employees used to shift to a different firm. So, it was essential to have people who were loyal to the firm. Do they have good interpersonal skills? - The work required the employees to interact with clients who were looking for a person with energy and enthusiasm. Thus, interpersonal skills became an essential job requirement.

Will they be good team players? - The life of an associate was strenuous as he had to spend long hours at work. Most of the deals were the result of team activity and so, good team players were needed. Are they mature in their judgements? - Since most of the decisions taken at S G Cowen involved a lot of risk and responsibility, the candidates were expected to show maturity in their judgements Are they technically sound? - In the banking industry, it was very essential to have knowledge of core finance concepts. Most of the decisions taken were based on analysing financial data and making specific models. Hence, the candidates needed to have strong technical skills. Are they flexible and versatile? - Due to the inherent uncertainties of the job, the candidates were required to be flexible and versatile

Other decision points Apart from the decisions relating to the hiring of the candidate, a few other decisions were also taken, especially at the planning stage: Which schools should be targeted as core schools? How many positions are available to be filled? How many of the positions need to be filled from summer interns, promotions and college hires? How many rounds of interviews should be done? Who all will the interviewers be? These questions were mostly related to the planning stage and had to be decided before the start of the recruitment process.

Evaluation of the process used by S G Cowen

Different components of the hiring process have been evaluated in the following manner: Talent Pool from which candidates are hired SG Cowen hires three kinds of candidates for Associate positions: 1. Analysts who have completed three years at the firm and do not have any business school education. 2. Summer interns with the firm 3. New outside hires from business schools We believe that this is a wide talent pool and gives SG Cowen the opportunity to select the best candidates for the associate position. Hiring from analysts makes the recruitment process easier because these candidates have been with the firm with three years. They have a better understanding about the firm and have proven their cultural fit.

Informal Interviews SG Cowen used informal interviews to gauge the interest of students in their firm. Each core school had Team Captains who would usually be the alumni of these schools and were responsible for interaction with the candidates. This was extremely beneficial as it gave the students a chance to learn about the banking industry. However, students at non core business schools did not have such an option and had to approach bankers themselves for conducting these interviews. This process was difficult and cumbersome as usually the bankers would have extremely busy schedules. As described by Schoenberg, SG Cowen was not very receptive to the people from non core business schools. The process of informal interviews might thus create an undue advantage to people from core business schools. Also, the team captains are not human resource professionals and thus may end up testing only skills and not personality. This might lead to bias creeping in the process as the team captains might be selecting candidates on few characteristics and thus stereotyping the candidates. The involvement in recruiting activities was taken into consideration in the performance reviews which decided year-end bonuses. This might be an insufficient motivation for the team captains. On Campus Round Two rounds were conducted in campus. The first round was usually conducted by associates or senior associates. Candidates were also tested for cultural fit in these interviews. This helped to select candidates who would be able to work efficiently and satisfactorily in the organisation. At the end of the first round interviews, the two or three people who were interviewing candidates discussed their observations about the candidates and compared their notes about the different candidates. They had a fixed number of candidates to be chosen after this round, ie, 6. The focus of interviewers was to quickly conduct a second round so that they could be conducted on the same night for the 6 shortlisted candidates. Ideally they should allow time between the two so that the candidates are relaxed and at ease to give their best. Also, having a fixed number of students whom they want to forward to the next round might result in losing out good candidates or selecting not so good candidates. Super Saturday - post lunch process - collective decision making The collective decision making process lacks a proper structure. The process is more qualitative than quantitative. The process relies on the recruiting skills of the bankers who are more suitable to evaluate the job talent of the candidates which forms only a part of the objective of recruitment process. One managing director gets turned off by the salesy nature of the candidate while another feels that he is eager to contribute and has a great attitude. When there is

disagreement on candidates, it is observed that the interviewers on both sides have strong positive or negative opinions about the candidate in question. Thus, there is a deadlock in the process. We see the following problems with the group decision making process: Escalation of Commitment for the interviewers The 5 interviewers who have interviewed the candidate are made to commit to a Yes, No, Maybe before the start of the interview process. So when they present their views about the candidate to the group, they are representing the candidate whom they have said Yes and have already taken a position. Thus, they will try their best to protect that position. There is very little chance that this opinion might change even after discussion. Also, when interviewers are forced to take a position, there is more chance of the final decision being more of a political decision than being a scientific decision as co-bankers in the group are more likely to vote for the candidate who has been approved by someone they like and vice-versa Groupthink In the Super Saturday meeting, the 5 interviewers are made to commit to a Yes or a No about the candidate she/he has interviewed. During the post-lunch discussion process, where the final call is taken on the candidate, there is very high probability for the rest of the group to be biased by the number of yeses and nos and might go with the majority due to conformity pressures. Say, a particular candidate has got 5 yeses a 1 no from his/her interviewers. There is absolutely minimal chance that the rest of the group will even take interest in discussing the candidate and might just want to get to the next candidate. To overcome the above problem, we feel that they can make use of the nominal group technique. In this method, the group can follow the following process. When a candidates name comes up for discussion, the 5 members present their views of the candidate on various parameters using examples from the interview. Some might be positive and some might be negative The remaining members of the group then ask for clarifications on the views expressed by the interviewers to make sure they have understood them correctly There shall be no rebuttal of the views made by the interviewers or any one-on-one discussions After this period, there shall be a silent period and the different members of the group shall vote Yes or No for the candidates.

Chip Rae will collect the votes and the results shall not be announced immediately but shall be withheld till discussions on all 30 candidates are completed. At the end of all the discussions, the candidates will be ranked according to the number of yeses they have received and the top 20 shall be given the offers. Some additional features that can be added are: Instead of the 5 interviewers presenting their views within the group, Chip Rae can himself present the views without revealing the names of the interviewers. This will reduce the chance of other members of the group being biased by the source of the feedback (boss, subordinate, same team etc) Chip Rae can take the initiative to lead the group discussion. According to researchi, one of the most powerful methods to improve decision making is simply to make group members consider the opposite of what they are thinking. This has been found to reduce errors in judgement caused by biases. Testing cultural fit at the first stage The firm followed the practice of interviewing candidates for cultural fit in the first round by asking questions about work and education experience and this was used as one of the criteria for eliminating candidates. Research findingsii have exposed the myth that companies that screen for values have better performance than those that screen for intelligence. The research suggests that though culture is a good determinant of job satisfaction and longevity in the firm, it has low correlation with job performance. Moreover, given that the industry in question here is banking which involves complex skills, we believe that cultural fit should be given secondary importance and should be done at a later stage in the process. Overall positives of the S G Cowen hiring process They hold their interviewers responsible for the quality of candidates they bring thus ensuring that only the best candidates come to the firm. It was made sure that the bankers were not partial in their selection process and favouring candidates from their own alma maters though its not mentioned how. They looked for the right people with the attitude to work at SG Cowen and were willing to go the extra mile to create jobs for them if required. Writing down comments and making extensive notes about candidates made it easier to recollect and discuss about their abilities.

Making sure that candidates are relaxed and comfortable before Super Saturday. They did reference checks with previous employers and ensured that candidates gave the right information. Their process answers the three fundamental questions necessary for Selection Interviewsiii: o Are the candidates competent for the job? : Candidates are shortlisted on the basis of their resumes and their skills are checked in the first round of interviews o Are the candidates well motivated? : Informal interviews are done to see if the interviews are really interested in the firm. o How well they fit in the organisation? : Cultural fit is checked during the interviews.

Other recommendations for the hiring process

One gap we find is that the process is fraught with uncertainty about whether the candidate will accept the offer or prefer another firm. They need to have an alternative in place so as to mitigate this risk. And the recruitment process is also sandwiched into a very short time frame and this will cause a lot of stress both for the interviewers and the interviewees. Given that the firm is very particular about cultural fit, initiative and on the job learning and they are inviting all shortlisted candidates for a Super Saturday, SG Cowen can try to create an Assessment Centre for the candidates in the long run.iv Assessment Centres can provide a more comprehensive and balanced view of the suitability of a candidate for an organization. They can design exercises to simulate the key characteristics that they are looking for in candidates and this will eliminate the subjectivity in the process. Since performance is measured in several dimensions and several candidates are assessed together to allow for interaction, it would facilitate better comparison of candidates potential.v A student who comes for a summer internship works in the organization for 2-3 months. During this period, the organization can judge the candidates skills, cultural fit and future potential and hence the firm can make a better decision on hiring for a full time position. The students who intern at SG Cowen has 2 months to understand the culture of the firm and hence can make an informed decision if they want to pursue a career with the firm. So the acceptance rate will be much higher compared to that in the case of new recruits. The current number of associates hired from summer interns is 8. This can thus be increased in the future. MBTI to assess work ethics and personality type

While a lot of emphasis is laid upon personal fit in the organization, it is quite difficult to gauge a persons fit objectively. To eliminate any discrepancy and to scientifically analyse a prospects work ethic and fit, we could have them answer an MBTI. The MBTI is a standardised test and we have results from past tests to guide us in this regard. Study of a number of Investment Banking personnel profiles has revealed that Investment Bankers typically fall into one of these personality types: INTP, INTJ, ESTJ, ENTJ, ISTJ.vi

Assessment of current evaluation criteria

Currently the candidates are being judged on the basis of the following parameters: Commitment to firm Judgement/Maturity Interpersonal skills -(Impact/Presence and Communication Skills) Leadership -(Initiative and Motivation) Technical Skills -(Creativity, Modelling, Accounting/Finance and Prioritizing) Work Ethic Commitment to firm: Almost all firms without exception would want to recruit for the long term. Especially in the current scenario in the investment banking industry where firms are fighting for talent and given that SG Cowens employees would be wooed by the top banks, it makes all the more sense for the firm to measure candidates commitment to the firm. This can be gauged by the candidates profile, interest shown in the informational interviews. Interpersonal skills Given that SG Cowen is a boutique Investment Bank, Associates would be involved in a high level of exposure to clients. They need to be well versed in oral communication since that is crucial to perform their duties effectively. According to Rae long-term success .. came from loving the work, loving to teach and sell . Candidates would need to have very good inter-personal skills to be able to sell well Leadership The firm needed people who were go-getters, self-driven individuals who could take initiatives without being given instructions on what to do. This can be gauged by the past leadership experiences of the candidates and whether they demonstrated a pattern of success in such opportunities and the way they handled such an opportunity in their previous work environment..In Schoenbergs words Wall Street does not give enough time to people to

develop slowly and according to Fennerbresque We want the type of person here who doesnt need to be told what to do. . We want the self-starter. Thus, we can figure that leadership and initiative is very important for prospective candidates Technical skills At the end of the day a persons technical prowess, number crunching skills, domain knowledge of Finance & Accounting, creativity and ability to prioritize is what helped one deliver his duties. So the management had earlier rejected candidates who fell short on these criteria. And we too think this is the right move since at the end of the end this is what the client would be paying for. For instance, from the Exhibits, we infer that Bill Berry had been rejected since he lacked number crunching skills and William Xu had been dinged since he fell short on Accounting Skills. Overall, we are in agreement with the usage of the criteria in the evaluation form. But we feel there is no scientific basis for the overall rating in the evaluation form. This may introduce bias in the final decision. Some may feel technical skills are more important, while others may feel interpersonal skills are more important and their overall rating might depend on their personal opinion Move form subjectivity to objectivity - Need to construct linear models Based on our analysis of the process and evaluation form used to judge a candidate, we feel that the role of intuition is very high. Though intuition is a very useful and powerful tool, it is fraught with biases and can be counterproductive especially in an exercise like recruitment. There has been research done in this area to create systematic strategies to help people overcome these biases. Researchers in this field have distinguished between two types of thinking - Type 1 which is intuitive fast, automatic, effortless and emotional and Type 2 which involves reasoning slower, conscious, effortful and logical. Research advocates using linear models to move decision making based on Type 1 to one based on Type 2. This has especially been found to be useful in hiring and admissions. The usage of linear models will reduce the subjectivity that is currently present in the process and will also bring in consistency in judging different candidates on similar grounds. Chip Rae should take the lead in designing this linear model as he is exposed to the different banking teams and has been a banker himself and he can design a model that reflects the overall wisdom of the firm. Based on the information given in the case, we have evaluated the importance of each criteria and we have given the following weights for each of the criteria

Category Commitment to Firm Judgement/Maturity Interpersonal Impact/Presence Communication Skills Leadership Initiative Motivation Technical Creativity Modeling Accounting/Finance Prioritizing Work Ethic Team Player Flexibility/Versatility Motivation

Weights 10% 10% 5% 8% 7% 8% 7% 7% 12% 6% 7% 7% 6%

Technical Skills: We have given this the highest weight. Investment banking is a skill-heavy job and firms are fighting for candidates with high technical abilities. Given that SG Cowens core competency and competitive advantage comes from research, technical skills should be given the highest weight (32%). Work Ethic: SG Cowen is a boutique firm. Because of its small size, its associates usually work very closely with firms and they need to demonstrate good team abilities and flexibility as they are given high responsibilities and very little hand-holding. Also very important is the fact that the candidate must be motivated to join the company as if a person rejects the offer after being made one, then the company has committed an error. We have given this a weight of 20% Leadership: The importance of initiative and drive is expounded by various senior members in the firm. All of them unanimously feel that in a field like Equity Capital markets, it is very important to have the drive to learn on ones own. They also talk about the importance of being a self-starter in a small firm like SG Cowen (15%)

Interpersonal Skills: SG Cowens associates work very closely with clients, often taking on huge responsibilities that they would generally not take on at other firms. Also, they need to frequently interact with co-bankers and managers as this is a collaboration-intensive field of work. We have given this a weight of 13% Commitment to Firm and Judgement & Maturity: As stated earlier, it is very important to retain talent in the investment banking industry where there is dearth of the right talent. Also, there are a lot of situations in I-banking where bankers need to use their judgement to make a decision. We have given both of these 10% each.

Evaluation of the four candidates

We decided to evaluate the candidates using the linear model proposed earlier. Based on the weights accorded to the different parameters, a scorecard was prepared for each of the four candidates. The candidates were given a rating for each of the parameter Outstanding, Good, Fair and Unsatisfactory. Also, a score was awarded for each of these parameters. The weights given to the parameters were then multiplied with the scores to give a weighted average score for each of the candidate. These scores are tabulated below:
Weights (total 100) 10 10 Natalya Godlewska 9 7 Martin Street 1 7 Ken Goldstei n 5 3 Andy Sanchez 9 9

Parameter Commitment to firm Judgement/ Maturity Interpersonal Skills Impact/ Presence Communicati on Skills Leadership Initiative Motivation Technical Skills Creativity Modeling Accounting/ Finance Prioritizing Work Ethic Team Player Flexibility/Ver

5 8 7 8 7 7 12 6 7 7

1 4 9 8 5 10 10 5 7 7

9 9 9 7 5 5 5 5 7 5

7 7 9 9 5 9 9 9 2 7

7 9 9 9 5 5 5 5 5 5

satility Motivation Overall Rating

5 7.07

5 5.9

5 6.59

6 6.88

A detailed scorecard (along with the reasons and observations) is provided in the Appendix. So based on the weighted scores, we can see that the two people who should be selected are Natalya Godlewska and Andy Sanchez.

Scorecard for Natalya Godlewska
Weights (total 100) 10 Mar ks

Natalya Godlewska Commitment to firm Judgement/ Maturity Interpersonal Skills Impact/ Presence


Outstandin 9 g

Reasons Called the bankers she had met at presentation for informational interviews Having worked in the industry for 4 years, she showed an in depth knowledge of the sector


7 Good

Unsatisfact 1 ory

Communicatio n Skills Leadership Initiative Motivation Technical Skills Creativity Modeling Accounting/ Finance

4 Fair

Seemed stiff and uncomfortable so may not be a great cultural fit Her less than perfect English might affect her ability to work with fellow team members, but she will be a hit with the clients due to her positive energy Was highly recommended by her referee and she displayed a "can-do" attitude She seemed ambitious and ready to work hard

7 8 7 7

Outstandin 9 g Outstandin 8 g 5 Fair Outstandin 10 g Outstandin 10 g


Worked 4 years in firm which developed modelling software for M&A firm Secured the highest GPA in the finance department and served as graduate teaching assistant in finance program at Cornel

Prioritizing Work Ethic Team Player Flexibility/ Versatility Motivation Overall Rating

6 7 7 6 7.07

5 Fair 7 Good 7 Good 5 Fair Good reference from her referee Speaks fluent Russian, Polish, German and some French

Scorecard for Martin Street

Weights (total 100) Mar ks

Martin Street Commitment to firm Judgement/ Maturity Interpersonal Skills Impact/ Presence Communicatio n Skills Leadership Initiative Motivation Technical Skills Creativity Modeling Accounting/ Finance Prioritizing Work Ethic Team Player


10 10

Unsatisfact 1 ory 7 Good Outstandin 9 g Outstandin 9 g Outstandin 9 g 7 Good 5 Fair 5 Fair 5 Fair 5 Fair 7 Good

Reasons Though he said he preferred the boutique nature of S G Cowen, it was not sure if he would accept the offer if made Having served for 4 years in the military, he was expected to show a high maturity level

5 8

Dynamic Personality Confident and articulate Having served in the military, he led a rescue operation in Bosnia He was involved in a number of activities, as diverse as marathon racing.

7 8 7 7 12 6 7

Grades not known due to college policy Grades not known due to college policy

Expected due to his military service

Flexibility/ Versatility Motivation Overall Rating

7 6 5.9

5 Fair 5 Fair

Scorecard for Ken Goldstein

Weights (total 100) 10 Mar ks

Ken Goldstein Commitment to firm


Reasons Family life balance was very important for him Had a lot of responsibilty in his previous job. Used to be in charge of things. However, it was believed that he might be too mature and would not be suited for associate position

5 Fair

Judgement/ Maturity Interpersonal Skills Impact/ Presence Communicatio n Skills Leadership Initiative Motivation Technical Skills Creativity Modeling Accounting/ Finance


3 Fair

5 8

7 Good 7 Good

Had positive evaluation from all his interviewers Had positive evaluation from all his interviewers Managed multiple teams simultaneously; Won multiple accounts Quickly rose to the post of manager at PWC;

7 8 7 7 12

Outstandin 9 g Outstandin 9 g 5 Fair Outstandin 9 g Outstandin 9 g Outstandin 9 g

Resolved technical issues for clients Drew up budgets and pricing for projects at his earlier firm Handled a lot of responsibilty and had a positive performance appraisal showing that he manages responsibility well There were concerns that he might not be able to fit with the team due to his experience at a high post and the responsbility he had in his last job. Worked on various issues from budgeting and pricing to resolving technical issues

Prioritizing Work Ethic

Team Player Flexibility/ Versatility

7 7

Unsatisfact 2 ory 7 Good

Motivation Overall Rating

6 6.59

5 Fair

He wanted to maintain a work life balance and give time to his family which might not be possible due to hectic schedule of an associate

Scorecard for Andy Sanchez

Weights (total 100) Mar ks

Andy Sanchez Commitment to firm Judgement/ Maturity Interpersonal Skills Impact/ Presence Communicatio n Skills Leadership Initiative



Outstandin 9 g Outstandin 9 g

Reasons He had several informational interviews with the firm and talked to other asosociates on several occasions whenever it was possible Had a profitable business; Was good at making the right decisions for himself at the right time


7 Good Outstandin 9 g Outstandin 9 g Outstandin 9 g 5 Fair 5 Fair 5 Fair 5 Fair 5 Fair 5 Fair 6 Good

Friendly to candidates; Good at making people relax Always sent follow up mails to people he talked to; Spoke very cogently about banking industry Started his own business during first year of college - was successful Enrolled in business school while he was running his own business and managed both the responsibilities well

Motivation Technical Skills Creativity Modeling Accounting/ Finance Prioritizing Work Ethic Team Player Flexibility/ Versatility Motivation Overall Rating

8 7 7 12 6 7 7 6 6.88

Though he had great GMAT and SAT scores, his GPA was very less

Wanted to try out new challenges in the banking sector and so he left his venture


Milkman, K.L. , Chugh D. , Bazerman , M.H. (2010 Winter) Intuition vs Deliberation: How decision making can be improved, Rotman Magazine i ii Rynes S.L. , Brown K.G. , Colbert, A.E (2002). Seven misconceptions about human resource practices: Research findings versus practitioners beliefs. Academy of Management Executive, 16, 92-102 iii Robbins et. al Chapters 31-33, 38-39 Selection Interviewing iv http://www.uniphiz.com/digital_physiognomy/personality-types.htm v Robbins et. al Chapters 31-33, Selection Interviewing vi Golden Personality Type Profiler Global Type and Occupational Fit, NCS Pearson,2007