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Carroll School of Management

Mark V. Hurd

CEO, Oracle Corporation

Excerpt from remarks to Boston College’s Chief Executives Club  

April 22, 2015

TAKEAWAY: Recruitment and Retention

Audience Member: You mentioned you’re going to hire 1,300 people from the colleges. What is your turnover rate on those groups? And what is your retention strategy–because that’s a very expensive proposition?

Hurd: Oh, that’s good. So yeah, I mean I think what you say is a big deal. Right? We recruit all these Kids. And we put them into an environment–and frankly, we start by just training them. So we spend three months just really nurturing them–teaching them about products, about processes, about people. And frankly, part of that is also building a network in the company.

Just to give you an example, I have all these kids, when they get out of school, come to my house. And I actually do that because–well, not because I want them at my house, really, but because I want them to feel some bond to the company, and I want them to meet all the executives they otherwise wouldn’t meet.

Our retention–let me be open with you about Boston, because we have four big hubs in the United States–Boston, up in Burlington, Austin, Reston, Virginia–let me say Austin again–Austin, Texas–and then Redwood Shores, which is where I live.

First, from a recruiting perspective, it’s hard to get people to come to Boston. It’s not the easiest place to recruit to. Everybody on the West Coast wants to work on the West Coast. Many people on the East Coast want to move to the West Coast. I have very good luck, in Texas, getting the Texas kids to go to Austin. Austin is cool. Austin’s hot. I can recruit to Austin easily.

Now, the flip side of that is the attrition rates are very different on physical location. Attrition rates in Austin are not high. Attrition rates in Boston are not high. Attrition rates in Redwood Shores are extremely high.

So when you recruit a kid, the kid’s making $50,000, $60,000 out of college and can make some commission if they’re a salesperson or may make $75,000, $80,000, $85,000 if they’re an engineer. The fact is you can go down that 101 pike that I described and just take a different exit and get $20,000 more the next day. So it’s hard.

So being in the Silicon Valley has its benefits. On the attraction side, it’s got its downside. And because I’m the guy investing in training and all of these little companies–I’m not going to go after them right now, but I’d like to–is to say, listen, I’m not here to be your training arm. And so, I’m thinking all sorts of neat, cool ideas where I maybe do something different.

But your point’s the right one. I mean, we try to give these people advancement. The biggest relationship a kid has in any company is not with the company. It’s with their manager.

So remember, it’s all about the relationship–they see Oracle not through what I say but what their manager–their whole lens to Oracle is through their manager. So our biggest lever is to get the managers to be able to mentor, train, coach and develop people. So that’s we’re working on.