As chief recruiter for Citicorp, Hoyle C. Jones keeps his eye on the long term when selecting banking talent from colleges and business schools.
After all, rising stars tend to stick around at the nation's second- largest bank.
"If you look at the top 50 officers of the bank, all but three were hired from campus," said Mr. Jones, Citicorp's vice president for staffing and mobility.
While most banks have a tough time recruiting the best and brightest graduate and undergraduate business students, Citicorp and other top-tier banks are in another league.
For years, Citicorp has competed with top investment banking and management consulting firms by offering some of the highest starting salaries in the business.
Citibank officials will not divulge the starting salaries they offer. But they say they're more competitive with the $90,000 to $100,000 paid on Wall Street than the $50,000 to $70,000 typical at banks.
As the U.S. banking industry becomes increasingly global, the kind of prospects Mr. Jones and other bank recruiters seek has also changed. Today, one of Citicorp's key criteria for selecting young bankers is a demonstrated experience in navigating foreign cultures. Of the banking company's 85,000 employees, more than 45,000 work abroad. The bank operates in nearly 100 countries.
"When we go on campus, we're interested in people who have shown leadership and mobility - proven geographic mobility," he said. "If you're successful in the bank, you're going to be working overseas."
Mr. Jones' own 30-year career at Citibank gives him continuous insight into what makes a successful Citibanker.
After graduating from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va., Mr. Jones signed on with Citibank and was posted to Latin America right away.
"When I joined, we were still pushing pins in a map" to indicate Citicorp's global presence, he recalled.
As he gears up for a blitz of campus visits this fall, Mr. Jones looked back on his early years at Citibank.
"I joined the bank because I wanted a career internationally," he said. "This is a real drawing card that we had, and that we still have."
Each year, Citicorp hires 400 permanent management associates in the United States, 200 of whom are foreign nationals slated to return to their home countries to work for the bank. Additional management associates are hired abroad.
On top of that, 200 summer associates work at the bank each year. Mr. Jones calls them "ambassadors who help us recruit and spread gospel" when they return to school.
Sixty percent of Citicorp's management associates hold MBAs, and 35% are graduates of eight of the nation's top business schools.
At Columbia Business School, Citicorp has hired more students than any other company over the last seven years "by a long shot," said Thomas E. Fernandez, director of MBA career services there.
"Citibank's strong international presence is particularly suitable for Columbia, because we are very much an international school," Mr. Fernandez said.
He called Mr. Jones "a great friend of the school," adding that "His skill is building strong relationships, and he has consistently done that with the members of this office."
And Mr. Jones's presentation to students is "consistently one of the best," Mr. Fernandez said.
A chief drawing card for Citicorp is the broad variety of fields in which newcomers work. Each year, at least 75 recruits are trained as technology associates; others work in operations, marketing, and other areas.
Mr. Jones said the distribution has changed remarkably from past decades, when people still joined the bank to work in commercial lending and when technology garnered only a tiny share of hires.
"I think we have more people for software work than Microsoft," Mr. Jones said.
Consumer banking - including credit card work, branch management, and private banking - also eclipses commercial lending in a big way.
"When I joined, there were few opportunities in consumer banking," Mr. Jones said. "Today they're the greatest opportunities."
This, he notes, is a reflection of how the bank has changed.
Thirty years ago, "our wholesale revenues were 80% from lending money," he said. "Today, 20% of our income is generated from income on loans." Fees and commissions make up the bulk.
Citicorp maintains a list of target schools for recruitment. It includes 22 undergraduate colleges, eight graduate schools that it terms "corporate target schools," and 15 "business target" graduate schools. Each fall, Mr. Jones and his colleagues take dozens of glossy blue-and-white brochures to each school.
"We don't go to recruit - we go to present the bank," he said.
Also presenting the bank are panels of Citibanker graduates from each school. A typical information session draws 300 to 400 students.
Students are given brochures that include "A Day in the Life of a Citibank Management Associate," featuring personal essays from a cross- section of recent hires. The management associates describe a panoply of challenging assignments: "Typically, I spend my day on credit analysis of our portfolio of European and Middle Eastern clients," wrote one. "I'm participating in a corporate initiative to standardize Citibank's computing infrastructure and support systems," wrote another.
Yet a third injected a note of caution: "To succeed here, you need to be prepared to accept more than you expect, be mobile, and, most important, make sure you marry an understanding wife or husband!"
Mr. Jones chuckled when he recounted that in the 1920s, Citibank recruits - who were all men - had to sign a contract agreeing that they would either remain bachelors during their first assignments or gain the bank's permission to marry.
By contrast, 42% of management associates hired in 1995 were women, and 17 percent were black or Hispanic. Countless were married, he said.
Along with the growing diversity of the bank's work force, Mr. Jones said, he had noticed a growing interest among potential job applicants in social issues.
"If you want to go back to the 1980s, compensation really drove the decisions and there wasn't much interest in quality of life or social commitment," Mr. Jones recalled.
"Today," he said, "the first questions are about social responsibility."