Fast Talk: Now Hiring

At a time when all of corporate America seems to be doing more with less, we found a few companies, big and small, that are actually staffing up. So we had to ask: Why are you hanging out the “Help Wanted” sign?


Ted Hoff

Vice president of learning IBM
Armonk, New York


Projected 2004 employee growth: + 11,000

IBM will make 15,000 hires around the world this year. We absolutely expect that there will be net new employment both in the United States and across the globe. At the end of 2003, we had 319,000 employees and we expect at the end of this year we’ll have about 330,000 jobs–and that’s with attrition.

Fundamentally, our global employment matches our global business. Since 1979, IBM has had more employees working outside the United States than in it. When we look at how we bring in IBMers from around the world, we want to know what is the best work being done and where. At one time, for example, companies went to Ireland primarily because of the wage differential. But you know what? God bless Ireland, it’s now successful. Its labor rates have gone up. The point is, a lot of these labor cost-differentials are fleeting.

In determining which skills IBM people need for tomorrow, we examine where we think value for our clients is shifting. For example, we have dramatically embraced Linux. So we have a whole set of skills that we are building around open standards. We also see the world moving from the client-server system in IT to a more robust, dynamic networked system that includes grid computing, pervasive computing, wireless computing, and autonomic computing. We certainly need people with advanced skills in those areas.

We’re making a major effort to ensure that we can develop people who can live in the world of IT and provide business insight for clients. It’s a hard combination to find. We have this huge annual investment of at least $750 million in development to keep up with a rapidly changing world.


John Krakowski

Corporate human resources director
Northrop Grumman Corp.
Los Angeles, California

Projected 2004 employee growth: + 6,000

The nature of defense contracts is that they have long R&D phases before getting into manufacturing and production. So that requires people to work on a long-term basis. For example, we were recently awarded a $4.5 billion contract having to do with missile defense, and that will require something like 1,100 people over the course of three to four years. We have a good backlog of contracts and that will continue to drive the growth and the need for people with the kinds of talents–everything from R&D to manufacturing to production–that we’re looking for.

We post all of our jobs on our company Web site. On an average monthly basis, we get about half a million hits from people looking for jobs and another 80,000 hits from people internally looking for developmental opportunities. We think we’re going to hire about 18,000 people this year. That’s total. Some of that is just maintaining the current headcount, but absolutely, there’s net jobs growth in that. We have two sectors where we’ll really have a lot of jobs open through the end of the year: information technology and our mission systems sector. That’s just a function of the defense business.

We’re very fortunate. We’ve gotten what we believe is more than our share of the defense business. I think that bodes well for what the company is doing these days, and it’s that growth that drives the need for new people. Part of that need is in the professional, high-tech arena. If we can get our hands on good systems engineers, software engineers, people like that, we’re always glad to get them.


Doug Ducey

President and CEO
Cold Stone Creamery
Scottsdale, Arizona

Projected 2004 employee growth: + 11,725

I think ice cream is recession-proof. I used to sell beer for Anheuser-Busch, and we had a saying: “When the economy is good, the beer business is good; when the economy is bad, the beer business is better.” I think some of those same ideas apply to Cold Stone in tough times. It’s a comfort food. It’s something that’s affordable, and it’s something that gets back to family and simplicity.

Our franchisees opened up 228 new stores last year. And they’ll open 469 more this year. Every time a store opens, in addition to a franchisee being in business for themselves, there’s somewhere between 15 and 35 crew members they need to hire. When we originally set our vision in August of 1999, we said we will have 1,000 profitable stores operating by December 31, 2004. At the time, we had 74 stores up and running. We set out that big hairy audacious goal of 1,000 profitable stores, and amazingly, as of December 31 of this year, we will meet it.

We believe the principles of really getting the right people on this team–not only at headquarters but also inside the stores–got us to that goal. For example, we don’t interview our crew members; we audition them. It takes a certain level of energy, enthusiasm, and outgoing personality to create this ultimate ice-cream experience. We bring in five, six, seven people at a time and audition them for jobs. And you quickly learn which ones do or do not have the personality, charisma, and can-do attitude to work in a Cold Stone.


Dr. David R. Guyer

CEO, EyeTech Pharmaceuticals
New York, New York

Projected 2004 employee growth: + 76

When we started EyeTech, both big pharma and biotech companies were not interested in treating back-of-the-eye diseases such as macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. I left academia because I was frustrated having so many patients go blind from these terrible diseases. There were no good treatments, and I realized that there was very exciting science that could let us develop drugs for these patients. We’re excited that the FDA sees this as an unmet medical need. That’s why Macugen, the drug we’ve developed, has been fast-tracked for approval, and that’s what’s driving growth.

For a small company–159 people–we have a very senior staff. We look for people with experience in either a pharmaceutical or biotech company, preferably people who’ve developed and launched billion-dollar drugs. Our chief operating officer managed one of Pfizer’s blockbusters, a drug for glaucoma. Our head of marketing and sales is an ex-Pfizer person who headed up selling Celebrex in the United States and was involved in the Viagra launch. We hope Macugen will debut in the first half of 2005; to get ready, the biggest thing we need is more marketing and salespeople to present at major scientific meetings. We have to get the message out.

Wolfgang Hultner

CEO, The Americas, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
San Francisco, California


Projected 2004 employee growth: + 500

When our current CEO Edouard Ettedgui came on board five years ago, he had a vision to move beyond our presence in Asia and our one hotel in San Francisco. He said it was time to become a global company, but not just by sticking flags around the world in various cities. But really by getting specific, key destinations throughout the world where we could find the right people and go slowly. We are still a relatively small company with 19 hotels.

At the time, he asked me to give him three cities where I thought we should be in North America. I said, New York, New York, New York. So of course, we went to New York. Now we actually have two hotels there, The Mark and the Mandarin Oriental. The number of people on staff all depends on hotel occupancy as well as how many amenities we have, such as food and drink outlets and spas. For example, the Mandarin that opened last fall in New York hired 400 people.

So what else do we want? We came up with Washington, which opened this spring; Boston, breaking ground this summer; and L.A., which we’re still working on.

The hotel business, like others, is cyclical, with the cycle lasting anywhere between four and seven years. You want to build hotels when the cycle is a little bit down. Of course, you can’t always choose the timing, but to build in the downtime is good for a number of reasons. Number one, construction costs are normally 20% to 25% lower than at the height of the market. Two, it’s easier to find a good staff, and today in the hotel business, it’s all about finding the right staff. By the time the hotel opens–and most hotels take between three and five years from the time you sign a contract to the day the doors open–hopefully you are out of the cycle and ready for some good news.