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GSK, Consortium alumni initiative yields impressive recruiting results

GlaxoSmithKline has already made one hire as a result of this initiative. Read the case study outlining how GSK and The Consortium partnered to generate experienced candidates for the health care company from our alumni base.

We often hear about the tight bond our corporate partners and member schools have with The Consortium as they recruit students into their internships and MBA programs. Indeed, recruiting new, diverse talent into the corporate marketplace is fundamental to our mission.

We hear less about the ongoing relationships we maintain with our alumni and how we can leverage those relationships — with our corporate partners — to raise the talent acquisition experience to an entirely different level.

This case study outlines an initiative between GlaxoSmithKline and The Consortium to identify interested, experienced management talent for the health care company. Insight on this initiative comes from several members of GSK’s team, including Lynn Harris, director of inclusion & diversity initiatives for GlaxoSmithKline, and The Consortium’s D-Lori Newsome-Pitts, director of individual giving, student and alumni relations.

GSK's booth at the National Black MBA Association convention in Orlando in mid-September. (Photo by D-Lori Newsome-Pitts)
GSK’s booth at the National Black MBA Association convention in Orlando in mid-September. (Photo by D-Lori Newsome-Pitts)

The Players

In its third year as a patron-level corporate partner with The Consortium, GSK is a global health care company focused on developing medicines, vaccines and consumer health care products to help people to do more, feel better and live longer. The company employs a number of Consortium alumni, who, it says, “reflect with pride on their experience with The Consortium. That respect and appreciation for the organization made it a clear choice for GSK’s partnership.”

The Challenge

GSK sought to enhance its relationship with Consortium alumni and develop relationships with great talent. As the company became more aware of its relationship with The Consortium and its existing Consortium alumni talent, GSK team members sought to leverage the relationship to seek potential candidates across its various businesses, including pharmaceuticals, vaccines and consumer health care.

The Strategy

The partners discussed the end game for the initiative, which was identifying potential candidates with experience. They identified tools such as targeted email blasts and social media to reach alumni, but settled quickly on first creating two focus groups, both comprised of Consortium alumni — one internal to GSK employees, the other external. The external focus group allowed the partners to learn what alumni would want to hear from Consortium corporate partners. “This step was critical for our success,” noted Kimberlee Spores, GSK talent acquisition lead. “The insights from this group helped steer our approach. We feel certain our campaign would not have been as successful without the help of this group.”

Specific Tactics

GSK created a landing page in the recruiting section of its website designed specifically for Consortium alumni, based on feedback from the focus group. The Consortium sent an email blast to alumni on July 12, 2015, with information from GSK, inviting recipients to click for more information. The landing page provided visitors with pictures of alumni who worked at GSK and allowed visitors to create a profile in GSK’s employment system. GSK relied on its research to target a specific delivery time — Sundays at 6 p.m. Eastern time — for the email blasts.

The Consortium and GSK originally planned follow-up email blasts on July 19 and 26, 2015. When the initial results of the first blast were extremely positive, the partners agreed to scale back the communications. The Consortium shared analytics about the email blasts (how many sent, open rates, click-through rates, etc.) and GSK shared information about how many individuals had registering in its employment portal.

The email follow-up that had been scheduled for July 19 was pushed to Aug. 23. GSK officials concerned with delivering “client care” wanted to make sure they could effectively reach out and make contact with registered individuals without creating a bottleneck. The nature of the second email changed from what was originally planned as well, becoming a “thank-you message to Consortium alumni for their response,” including a snapshot of the previous email, while letting alumni know there were still opportunities to connect.

Expectations and Results

Newsome-Pitts said “expectation from all of us were not high because we hadn’t done this before. We thought we’d planned it well.”

Almost immediately, however, GSK received extremely positive results: “We were overwhelmed by the volume of alumni interested in connecting with GSK.” Company representatives have spoken to more than 50 Consortium alumni about their background, experiences and career aspirations. Prospects have backgrounds in marketing, sales, information technology, finance, law and operations. Said one GSK representative: “We’re so impressed with their experiences, capabilities and skill sets.”

GSK hosted events at the National Black MBA Association and participated in the National Society of Hispanic MBAs conferences this fall and expanded the number of Consortium alumni interested in working at GSK. The company plans to retain the internal focus group to help guide ongoing recruitment efforts.


Kimberlee Spores said one overriding message is that “there is more to The Consortium partnership than the internship program. The organization offers a significant talent base of smart, driven, capable and agile workers who can succeed at GSK.”

GSK is still evaluating the results, in terms of recruiting ROI and other measures. “We can confirm one hire was made from this initiative already. We anticipate the networking from this partnership will continue. GSK has started the conversations and looks forward to continuing them with this key talent initiative.”

From The Consortium’s perspective, the initiative was a success on several levels: 1) It demonstrates our ability to work with a partner to develop an alumni engagement strategy; 2) It exceeded that partner’s expectations; 3) It exposed a partner to something different from the student candidate pool; and, 4) It reminded alumni of The Consortium’s ability to positively influence their career.

“Alumni are speaking to GSK about this organization that changed their life,” Newsome-Pitts said, “and now we’re bringing an opportunity to them again at a later stage in their career.”

The Consortium has made this opportunity available to partners before, Newsome-Pitts said. “Here’s an example of a company that did it.”

Please visit GSK’s landing page if you are a Consortium alumnus interested in connecting with GSK.

Update: Kimberlee Spores alerted us on Nov. 9 that GSK has made a second hire as a result of this initiative.

Pictured above: D-Lori Newsome-Pitts, The Consortium’s director for individual giving, student and alumni relations, and Lynn Harris, GlaxoSmithKline’s director for inclusion & diversity initiatives, at the National Black MBA Association conference in Orlando.

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