MBA Recruiter Interview: Kaiser Permanente

Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 2pm

When choosing healthcare MBA employers, many business school graduates have to choose between a health insurance company and a hospital. Kaiser Permanente, however, is a health plan, hospital system and medical group rolled into one, which allows their MBA hires to work in a variety of settings early on in their career.

With approximately 9.5 million members, Kaiser Permanente is one of the largest non-profit health plans in the US. In addition to the health plan, Kaiser also operates 38 hospitals and 618 medical offices throughout the US. Running such a large and diverse healthcare organization requires a total of more than 170,000 employees, including 1,000 MBA hires each year.

Jason Phillips is Kaiser Permanente’s vice president of recruitment & HR operations. In this interview, he shares what Kaiser is looking for in its MBA hires, as well as how his company allows its MBA hires to advance their healthcare careers, while making a difference at the same time. 

Why do MBA students want to work for Kaiser Permanente?

Kaiser Permanente is a mission-driven organization, where the work our employees do – from our nurses and physicians on the front lines of patient care to our business people who shape policies – has the potential to make a difference in people’s lives. Everyone here has a role to play in the care continuum. We attract people who want to contribute to our mission of providing affordable, high quality health care, and to improve the health of the communities we serve. Kaiser Permanente is also a market leader within the industry, and is known for its commitment to innovation, diversity, workforce wellness, and career development. 

What makes Kaiser Permanente different to other MBA employers in the health care space?

Kaiser Permanente is a health plan, a hospital system, and a medical group all rolled into one.  Combining care and coverage creates convenience and affordability for our members, while affording our employees opportunities to work in a variety of settings early on in their careers. Our internal mobility is among the highest in the health care industry. It’s not uncommon for early career professionals to have the opportunity to either change roles or expand their roles every few years.

Since Kaiser Permanente is a health care company, are there any initiatives in place designed to create a healthy workplace for employees?

Lunchtime basketball game at Kaiser PermanenteYes, in fact, our healthy workforce programs recently earned Kaiser Permanente a ranking among the 44 Healthiest Companies to work for in the US by, a health and fitness blog.

We take a collaborative approach to workforce wellness with tools and resources to promote healthy food options and to encourage employees to become wellness champions who initiate walking meetings and other fitness activities with their colleagues. We also encourage employees to take active transportation with commuter spending accounts and bike-to-work reimbursements. Kaiser Permanente also inspires all-day movement with onsite gyms at many of our buildings, and an “instant recess” campaign, which promotes 10-minute physical fitness breaks in the middle of the day. We also offer these workforce wellness programs to employers and other customers to use with their own workforces to help employees stay healthy.

What are common jobs for MBA graduates at Kaiser Permanente?

Non-clinical career paths include IT (program, project management and internal consulting), finance, HR, marketing, insurance (claims and actuarial), and other areas of the organization.

Which business schools do you recruit from?

We have focused primarily on hosting treks by MBA students visiting Kaiser Permanente and on on-campus information sessions. Recently, we’ve worked closely with the University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Davis; UCLA; University of Southern California; and Stanford.

We have also done virtual information sessions with Boston University, Georgetown, and New York University. However, since we are a large employer with a wide variety of opportunities, we attract students from dozens of graduate programs across the country.

How many MBA students do you typically recruit each year?

We hire about 1,000 candidates every year who have completed their MBAs within the last two years.

How many MBA interns did Kaiser Permanente take on this year? How many left with job offers?

We offered about 250 paid internships, of which 31% were targeted toward graduate students. About 30% of our interns eligible for conversion received job offers following their internships.

What steps should MBAs take in order to make a good impression? Conversely, what are some common mistakes MBAs should avoid when contacting recruiters?

I advise candidates to take the time to identify the most appropriate job opportunity that aligns with their work experience and professional passion.  A common mistake I see people make is taking a "shotgun" approach to their careers by applying to everything and anything in hopes that something sticks.

What do you look for when evaluating candidate’s résumés and job experience?

We look at their performance and results. We also look for behavioral attributes to increase the likelihood of a close fit with Kaiser Permanente’s core values.

When recruiting, do you focus primarily on finding MBAs with a healthcare background?

No. We search for the best candidates with demonstrated ability to perform and excel.

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