Career Advice

Bloomberg: Detroit outgrows Silicon Valley in technology jobs as Ford binges on hires

posted Mar 27, 2011, 9:17 PM by Rocco Huang

As a group of Ford Motor Co. (F) managers in blue jeans sat down to interview a suit-wearing candidate from a California technology company this month, they jokingly offered to cut off his tie to put him at ease.

Auto industry executives are trying to make Silicon Valley engineers feel at home in Detroit. With a burgeoning number of technology job openings to fill, they’re scouring Internet companies for workers, wining and dining applicants, and seeking promising students at schools such as Stanford University.

“We have a whole slew of job postings out there currently,” said Doug VanDagens, director of Ford’s connected service solutions, who has been trying to lure engineers to the automaker to design software. “We’re just on a growth binge.”

Expertise in cloud computing, mobile software applications and energy management are in demand in the Motor City as automakers replace car stereos with Internet radio and gasoline engines with motors powered by lithium-ion batteries. Technology job postings in the Detroit area doubled last year, making it the fastest-expanding region in the country, according to Dice Holdings Inc. (DHX), a job-listing website.

“There’s a war for talent out there, and it’s only going to get worse,” said Jim Bazner, vice president of human capital solutions at MSX International in Southfield, Michigan, which helps automakers find specialized employees. “There are hundreds of jobs, and all the automakers are hiring.”

Dearth of Graduates

Ford and General Motors Co. (GM) are rapidly hiring graduates from local universities as fast as they can -- there just aren’t enough of them.

“If we filled every opening that’s been posted or recruited just in the Lansing area, we’d be able to hire out all of our graduates three times over,” said Garth Motschenbacher, who helps place computer-science graduates at Michigan State University. About 70 percent of the school’s 54 students scheduled to graduate in May have jobs lined up, he said. “The number of students has not kept up with the opportunities.”

Still, attracting engineers to Detroit rather than Silicon Valley can be a challenge. The San Francisco area is home to more technology companies offering more job openings than Detroit. California’s mild climate and history of innovation are also a draw. Yet Detroit is bouncing back.

Companies that work with automakers on in-car entertainment systems, such as online streaming music providers Pandora Media Inc. andMog Inc., have opened offices in the Detroit area. Google Inc. (GOOG), based in Mountain View, California, has an office in Birmingham, Michigan, where it’s looking for sales associates to work with the auto industry.

New Wave

Marty Zacharias is part of the wave of new hires. The former Nissan Motor Co. and Ford employee joined Berkeley, California-based Mog last month -- in its new Detroit office. He’ll work directly with companies such as Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW)’s Mini and others to get Mog’s Web-based subscription music service into vehicles.

“Many more Detroit-based automotive industry employees will follow a similar path to mine,” Zacharias said in an e- mail, “or join advanced technology divisions within the established automotive companies.”

The expansion has caught the eye of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which announced in December that it will open its first satellite office in Detroit. The region’s high percentage of scientists and engineers, as well as its patent output, spurred the decision, said Paul Fucito, a patent office spokesman. The 4,000 patents granted to Michigan in fiscal 2010 ranked seventh among U.S. states, he said. The facility is likely to create about 100 new jobs to review patent filings.

Recession’s Toll

One reason why the job growth in Detroit appears so high is because the recession’s toll went so deep, said Tom Silver, senior vice president of Dice Holdings and author of the jobs report showing a surge in the area.

“The recovery there is actually looking pretty substantial, but it’s also a reflection, to some extent, that Detroit was probably hit a little harder than the other markets,” he said.

The hiring demand comes as Detroit’s population fell to the lowest official tally since 1910. According to 2010 U.S. Census data released this week, Detroit’s population declined 25 percent, to 713,777, down from a peak of 1.85 million in 1950.

Michigan lost about 413,000 jobs from December 2007 through December 2009, including 83,200 jobs in the Detroit area, according to theU.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Things picked up last year, as jobs in the Detroit-area professional and business-services sector, which include many of the tech jobs, rose almost twice as fast in December as the overall Michigan job market, according to the bureau.

Light-Rail Project

Not all tech jobs in Detroit are related to the auto industryDan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Quicken Loans Inc., helped fund a planned light-rail project for downtown, formed a venture capital firm to invest in startups, and purchased a historic theater with plans to renovate it as an incubator space for budding technology companies.

“I want to see this city come back in a big way,” Gilbert said in an interview. “Part of it also was for business -- we want to create that urban feel, that urban core environment downtown where people in their 20s and 30s really want to be.”

Last year Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, moved 1,700 of Quicken Loans’ employees into Compuware Corp. (CPWR) headquarters in Detroit’s Campus Martius Park area, the center of the city’s tech industry, where he plans to add 2,000 more workers.

In the building, graffiti from local artists decorate many of the walls and floors, and mini kitchens on every floor offer free slushies and snacks. When the space is fully finished, Quicken also will have a basketball court for employees.

Venture Funding

Gilbert’s venture capital firm’s goal is to fund social media, cloud computing and other software companies in Detroit. So far, Detroit Venture Partners has received more than 200 proposals for investments and has term sheets under consideration for six that may be signed in the next 30 days, said Josh Linkner, one of the three founders, in an interview.

Venture capital firms invested $79.9 million in 13 Detroit companies last year, according to National Venture Capital Association data. That’s the most companies since at least 1990 and the third-highest total investment, the data show.

Even with efforts to mimic Silicon Valley office culture, recruiting people to move from the West Coast to Detroit is difficult, said Micky Bly, GM’s executive director of electric vehicles, battery and infotainment systems.

“I don’t want to categorize it as an issue, but it is tough,” he said. “You don’t have people begging to come to the Michigan area.”

Salary Gap

Compensation is one reason why. While average salaries for Detroit technology jobs rose 2.3 percent last year to $71,445, that’s still less than the national average of $79,384, and about 28 percent lower than the $99,028 paid in Silicon Valley, according to Dice Holdings. More than 940 technology jobs are currently available in the Detroit metro region, compared with more than 5,060 in Silicon Valley.

Still, Bly says the quality of life can be attractive for some. “They can get a whole lot of house in Michigan for what they can get in San Francisco,” he said.

The workplace culture among automakers is also relaxing, as they attempt to adopt some of the perks more common at startups, like wearing jeans to work or telecommuting. That’s a big change from when Bly started at GM 20 years ago, when everyone wore a collared shirt and a tie.

“The variation was in your pant color -- you could have gray, black or blue,” Bly said. While things have changed, the perks still aren’t the same as in Silicon Valley, he said.

“Do we have a free cafeteria like Google? No, but our stock isn’t up to $400 a share yet” Bly said. Google currently trades at about $587 a share, while GM’s stock sits at $31. “When we get $400 a share, I’ll make sure we have free meals for everyone here.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Ryan Flinn in San Francisco at rflinn@bloomberg.netJeff Green in Southfield, Michigan,

Business Wardrobe Essentials (from

posted Mar 9, 2011, 12:54 PM by Rocco Huang

Looking the part of a stylish executive can be done on a budget, especially with our guide to office wear essentials.

By Chris Rovny, Fashion Correspondent

Page 1: Business wear

Hi Chris,

I just landed an entry-level finance position at one of the nation's top investment firms. The employment requires standard professional dressing. That said, I need advice on building a base business wardrobe without breaking the bank.

Please understand that by the time I finish paying off my student loans, my apartment, and other miscellaneous expenses, I hardly have any money left over to buy lunch and clothing for that matter.

Best Regards,
Mike Fellicionni
New York City, NY 

Hey Mike,

First of all, congratulations on securing your first career job. The fact that you're seeking advice on dressing professionally on a budget proves that you already started executing like top management; paying attention to detail while cutting down on costs.

Soon enough you'll be able to afford luxurious business suits, but until then here's a way to look great without spending too much; a step-by-step guide to building a base professional wardrobe.

Step 1 - Look around and ask questions

Chances are, you've met your boss and colleagues and took mental notes on how they were dressed for work. If you haven't, then make an excuse to revisit the workplace before you start shopping. Look around at how others are dressed and don't hesitate to ask general questions about the company's dress code.

For future reference, interviews and orientation sessions are ideal times to get a feel for the office surroundings and spot what other employees are wearing. Full business suits or a blazer with pants?

Again, feel free to inquire about the regular workweek dress code, and find out whether it differs from Fridays and client meetings. Keep in mind that dress codes generally aren't as strict as they used to be.

Step 2 - Get what you really need

When shopping, keep your co-workers' office wear in mind and always remember to lean toward more conservative styles. Here's what you really need in terms of specific pieces and colors, in order to build a solid business wardrobe:

Since you don't have the means to buy yourself 14 suits, 14 blazers and 14 trousers for a full two-week wardrobe rotation, you'll have to learn the tricks of mixing and matching, and adequate color selection.

basic business wardrobe

  • Your base business wardrobe requires at least one or two complete business suits. Odds are you already own the suit you wore to the interview, so purchase one more classic business suit and you'll be rolling.
  • Gray and navy are the most versatile colors.

  • Blazers, pants, and more business must-haves...

    Page 2: Business casual wear


  • Ideally, your base business wardrobe should include two versatile blazers.
  • When selecting your blazers, opt for lighter fabrics, which allows you to wear them year-round.

  • Trousers
  • Your basic business wardrobe should include three pairs of dressy trousers.
  • Remember to choose colors that mesh well with your blazers.

  • Shirts
  • A business wardrobe requires at least three or four solid white business shirts. Add a "French Blue" one to your selection for added variety.
  • Clean, crisp white shirts blend well with every suit and pants/blazer/tie combination. They also look very professional and are sure to remain stylish for years to come.
  • On the other hand, a French Blue shirt is also classic, but will offer up some "conservative" variety.

  • Ties
  • Purchase two or three different ties. A tie allows you to add color to your ensemble, without looking unprofessional.
  • As a rule of thumb, the more colors your tie comprises, the more conservative its pattern should be. Stay away from cartoon prints or any other crazy design.
  • Solids are always fine and of course, more versatile.
  • Rotating between ties regularly is a great way to make your business wardrobe look more diversified than it really is.

  • Shoes
  • Shoes are the one item you should spend extra time and money on, since you'll be wearing them throughout the week.
  • To start, get yourself a classic pair of black shoes. Black is extremely versatile and should blend rather well with most of your business wardrobe palette.
  • Down the road, when you start raking in the dough, you can get yourself a pair of brown, tan, camel, and oxblood shoes to complement each and every one of your suits. Okay, you can start with the oxblood shoes.

  • Color
    In terms of color, opt for neutral basics; they're versatile, conservative and timeless.. To start building your basic wardrobe, choose between:
  • Shades of black
  • Navy
  • Various shades of gray
  • Various shades of khaki
  • Step 3 - Spend the least

    Finally, here are three things you should keep in mind when shopping for your business wardrobe:

    - Always check the sales racks before you start skimming through the season's new arrivals. Classic men's garments are timeless and should remain pretty much the same throughout the years. Who cares if you're buying last year's collection? You will, because you'll be benefiting from hefty discounts and chances are that nobody will know the difference.

    - Take advantage of online discount retailers, such as It offers designer merchandise ranging from suits and shoes to ties, for less.

    - You might want a friend to tag along, to get an honest opinion. We all know how "convincing" salespeople can be.

    Until next time, keep on stylin' and make the most of your office wear.

    Play nice with classmates

    posted Dec 17, 2010, 3:52 PM by Rocco Huang

    To: ‘’
    Subject: [IBC] Break-out Sessions with Bankers–PLEASE READ CAREFULLY

    Dear 1st years –

    It has come to our attention that some of you have already managed to become notorious for their willingness to elbow their peers out of the circle around senior bankers and virtually attack the bankers with questions, thus preventing other students from networking and participating in the conversation. This is never a good strategy and acting in a socially undesirable way runs a strong risk of branding you as undesirable not just to your classmates but also to recruiters. Once you feel that you have asked a couple of questions, and perhaps received a business card, do not monopolize the banker’s time by standing around awkwardly or asking additional questions. Let your classmates play as well. Furthermore, such behavior shows that you are aggressive and non-collegial, and therefore not a pleasant person to work 100-hour weeks with.

    Bankers are very observant people. Moreover, it is much easier to remember somebody with a bad impression than with a good impression – do not smother the bankers with too many questions.

    § If you see a classmate standing behind you, step aside and let them in the circle around the banker – it shows team work

    § Ask a couple of questions and then move on or remain silent and let your classmates interact as well

    § If there are 6-7 students around 1 banker, you do not want to ask more than one or two questions

    § If there are 2-3 students you can ask a few more questions if you feel you are bonding well, but always be considerate toward your classmates – use your best judgment

    § If you feel you have spend a good 15-20 minutes with one banker, it is ok to excuse yourself politely and ask for a business card

    § If the banker has run out of business cards and you have one, offer to share with your classmates

    § Remember that these events are also meant to screen for those who can one day win business from clients – treat the recruiters the way you would treat a multi-billion dollar client

    § Do not monopolize recruiter’s time – especially the senior bankers. Talk to the junior bankers as well – they often are take the first stab at drafting invite only lists

    § Do not be fake and superficial in your attempt to shine – bankers interact with tens of people on a daily basis and can easily spot fake from genuine behavior

    § Do not overwhelm bankers with questions when they are taking a small break (i.e. chewing food) – remember they are also human beings and have had a very long day at work.

    § Do not get drunk or gobble down food in front of bankers no matter how hungry and tired you are

    § Do not be intimidated to let your personality shine – being stuck-up is never a good strategy – be pleasant, be fun, smile, and stay professional

    Your aim at these sessions is not to compete with your classmates, but to impress the bankers. Be smart about it – this is not rocket science!

    Use your social intelligence and best judgment. Be a team player. Be considerate to your peers. This will help not only you, but also the school, look professional and desirable.

    Thank you and good luck.

    IBC Board

    Columbia reminds business students to brush teeth

    posted Dec 17, 2010, 3:50 PM by Rocco Huang

    To: ‘’
    Subject: [IBC] Personal hygiene

    Dear 1st Year Members,

    It has come to our attention (through complaints from IBC board representing firms they are going to full time) that some of you may not have followed personal hygiene basics during recruiting events. We understand that it is an incredibly intense recruiting period, and is very hard to find time for yourself, but this is a friendly reminder on some dress code and personal hygiene basics:

    § Brush your teeth regularly, or have a mint/mouth refreshers before going to recruiting events (avoid chewing gums)

    § Carry anti-perspirant with you if you are worried about sweating. Don’t wear too much cologne/perfume

    § Carry a sewing mini-toolkit, in case your suit hems need an emergency sewing

    § Professional haircuts

    § No backpacks with you

    § Men – no tacky cufflinks or watches (with no crazy patterns, silver is preferable to gold)

    § Women – wear (preferably skin colored) hosiery and always carry an extra pair in your bag

    § Women – if it rains, do not show up in rain boots, no matter how cute you think they are

    And again, if you have ANY concerns, please do not hesitate to share with the IBC Board!

    UBS Dress code

    posted Dec 17, 2010, 3:36 PM by Rocco Huang

    UBS, the premium global bank catering to high end clients, has issued a brochure to its staff on proper dress codes. 

    The main message: first impressions count!

    For example, men are advised to wear suits in dark grey, black or navy blue, since these colors "symbolize competence, formalism, and sobriety."

    The brochure is in French, but you can use Google Translate to read them. Page 16 shows you how to tie a tie, and you don't need to know the French language to understand the graphic illustrations.

    The WSJ summarizes some of the advice in English (see attachment section below). 

    Yes Warren Buffett used to say: "I buy expensive suits. They just look cheap on me", but you are no Warren Buffett.

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