When Norfolk Southern moved its headquarters to Atlanta in 2021, the company ushered in a new era. The transportation leader is now poised not only to attract outstanding early career talent but also to engage the community. The relocation has been advantageous for Georgia State’s Robinson College of Business as well.
Robinson’s approach to building strategic partnerships with global, national, regional and local companies connects organizations with innovative recruiting activities.
“Campus recruiting is the beachhead for employers seeking early career talent, but we view these activities as the bedrock strategic partnerships are built on. Several years ago, our most engaged partners started to say, ‘Career fairs, campus interviews, and information sessions are great, but what else can we do?’. By listening to our partners, we’re able to gauge their evolving needs and build mutually beneficial long-term relationships that deliver value for partners, students, faculty and alumni,” said Jason Aldrich, Robinson’s assistant dean for strategic partnerships and career advancement.
In response, Robinson’s leadership team conducted listening sessions with partners to understand their needs; identify new immersive, collaborative programs that address real business problems; and pilot innovative partnership engagement models.
Robinson’s collaboration with Norfolk Southern perfectly illustrates this approach. More than four years ago, the company began sponsoring career fairs and recruiting events on campus. But, upon Norfolk Southern’s relocation to Atlanta, recruiters made it clear they wanted to deepen the partnership. The result? A student pricing case competition led by sales manager Michael Peterson.
As part of the competition, participants create viable solutions to real-time business problems through marketing and pricing analyses. They also visit the Norfolk Southern headquarters, gain exposure to different teams, and ultimately build mutually beneficial relationships.
"Through the competition, I was able to demonstrate my value by engaging in real-world exercises,” said senior marketing major Diego Diaz. “During the site visits, I interacted with Robinson graduates who now work there.”
“Strategic partnerships allow students to engage with employers outside of traditional recruiting activities, which tend to be transactional,” said Reginald Jamaal Price, Robinson’s director of strategic partnerships. “Students get to build relationships, showcase their skills, and contribute to our partner companies in fun and innovative ways.”
"The case competition has allowed us to focus on bringing more diversity into our organization,” said Caleb Mathis, a ’22 MBA alum who now is account manager at Norfolk Southern. “We need more sharp-minded, versatile individuals to drive innovation and growth. We look forward to growing our partnership with Georgia State and expanding our diverse workforce."
"We are proud to provide a platform for top talent to showcase their skills and gain valuable industry experience through career fairs, ‘employer of the day’ events, and our recent pricing competitions. And we thank Michael Peterson, sales manager, for his tireless efforts in bringing this partnership to fruition,” said Jason Scott, senior manager – talent acquisition. “Together, we are fostering the next generation of industry leaders and advancing the transportation industry as a whole."
By listening carefully to external organizations’ needs, Robinson creates tailored engagement opportunities. And through its close proximity to downtown businesses, the college builds enduring partnerships involving regular face time between companies, faculty, and students.
“We are grateful for Norfolk Southern’s increased support, which includes recruitment, the student pricing competition, and hosting Robinson’s upcoming executive committee retreat,” Aldrich said. “We look forward to growing this mutually beneficial relationship into a strategic partnership as our organizations continue to evolve.”