Explorers mean business

Johnson & Johnson’s Finance Leadership Development Program succeeds in hiring La Salle graduates. 

A decades-long partnership between La Salle University and consumer products, medical technology, and pharmaceuticals giant Johnson & Johnson is paying dividends, channeling finance and accounting students into fulfilling careers through J&J’s Finance Leadership Development Program (FLDP).

This year, seven La Salle students were accepted into J&J’s FLDP, making up approximately 10% of the young professionals admitted into the prestigious program.

FLDP, which annually takes in between 50 and 70 new college graduates in North America across their diverse business units, puts students through a rigorous two-year crash course in the business and matriculates them as senior financial analysts, ready to take on the corporate finance and accounting world.

FLDP cohortThis year’s robust FLDP cohort points to ways the University’s work preparing students for high-caliber careers and growing relationships with businesses is working, said Joe Ugras, Ph.D., interim dean and associate professor of accounting in the School of Business.

“The students’ studies in accounting and finance, plus their career and professional preparedness results in La Salle competing with much larger universities,” Ugras said. “Having seven students placed from a university of our size is a sign of the tremendous success of my colleagues who teach and prepare the students, and also of the success of our students themselves.”

Participants in FLDP receive mentorship and support from J&J. Many of La Salle’s FLDP participants join the program from the University’s Business Scholars Co-op program, where they receive real-world experiences while completing their four-year degrees. Ugras said he hears wonderful stories from La Salle alumni—including those who are still working at J&J. These anecdotes have helped garner more interest from current La Salle undergraduates.

“Being part of FLDP right out of college gave me the opportunity to experience a lot of different roles and meet a lot of people while also feeling comfortable enough to ask questions and be a part of the business,” said Marissa Beaver, ’18. “It was a good first step being in the working world right after college.”

Beaver is now a senior financial analyst at J&J. Her sister, Mikayla Beaver, ’20, just finished the FLDP program, as well. FLDP allowed both sisters to experience different facets of the business, with the company providing them with independence working as new finance professionals and additional training, they said.

“I am grateful for La Salle, as well, because I feel like the University really set me up for success, even as an intern in a coop,” Mikayla Beaver says.

The selection process for FLDP requires extensive interviews and academic credentials, something La Salle has made strides to prepare students to navigate successfully. Penelope Grob, M.S., director of the Business Scholars Co-op Program, said the University has added professional development classes to help undergraduates become the kind of professionals J&J and other firms are looking to hire.

On J&J’s side, La Salle alumna, graduate of FLDP ’07, and senior finance recruiting manager Kelly Flecksteiner, ’05, MBA, ’09, has worked to grow and maintain the University’s connection with the business. Flecksteiner said there was a lull, several years ago, where there were fewer students from La Salle entering FLDP, but she has since worked to build it back up and recruit more students into the program.

“Being part of FLDP right out of college gave me the opportunity to experience a lot of different roles and meet a lot of people while also feeling comfortable enough to ask questions and be a part of the business” —Marissa Beaver, ’18

“The past five to six years I fully attribute the success [of La Salle students in FLDP] to the relationships that we have at La Salle with faculty and career services but most specifically with Penelope Grob, and the Business Scholars Co-op program because it is a nice feeder into that FLDP talent,” Flecksteiner said. “But I can’t speak enough about the support from J&J–and it’s just not me. There is a big group of La Salle alumni that help on campus every semester to attract that talent.”

The FLDP program has been in existence for 25 years as part of J&J’s talent acquisition strategy. The mission of the program is to develop future business leaders, Flecksteiner said.

“What’s interesting is because of the long-term investment that J&J puts into them, we tend to see a long-term commitment from the students where the students will stay with J&J,” Grob said. “We don’t necessarily always see that with graduates who go into different companies or programs. We will see students stay five or 10 years, or longer.”

Ugras said the relationship with the corporation is part of the School of Business’s curriculum, with executives from J&J frequently speaking on campus.

“They are a partner, not just a recruiter, of our students,” Ugras said. “It is one of the tipping points for prospective La Salle students when we showcase our students and our alumni who have entered J&J. There are several other companies that are consistently recruiting at La Salle—these important brands that people know about—so it is a selling point for marketing our University for prospective students because they can envision themselves in those places after graduating.”

—Deanna Narveson

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