Fall is college recruiting season and for Georgia-Pacific, hiring outstanding talent is something we place a significant amount of time and energy around. In fact, Fernando González, president of Georgia-Pacific’s consumer products business, has been spotted on college campuses personally meeting with potential candidates. Talent is serious business when you’re responsible for the company’s leading national brands such as Brawny® paper towels, Quilted Northern® bath tissue and Dixie® tableware.
González will be at his alma mater, Texas A&M University, on October 2nd and 3rd. He shares his perspective on Georgia-Pacific and what makes the company a stand-out employer:
What do you like most about Georgia-Pacific as an employer?
I’ve been with the company for nearly15 years and I’ve learned a lot during that time. The thing that stands out is that regardless of my role or level in the organization, Georgia-Pacific has always given me the opportunity to speak up and make a difference in the brand that I was managing, the project I was working on or the business I was responsible for. Everyone is encouraged to be heard and to share their knowledge to help the team make better decisions.
What attracted you to Georgia-Pacific when you first came to work here?
I started in 1998 as a senior brand manager and since then held a number of roles, including vice president and general manager positions for tabletop products, bath tissue and paper towels. What really stands out to me is the culture, which is very similar to the one I experienced at Texas A&M. The two organizations share similar values, or what we call Guiding Principles at Georgia-Pacific. Aggies are focused on hard work, honesty and serving the community. Georgia-Pacific employees are committed to being entrepreneurial, acting with integrity and creating value for society. That type of culture truly sets an organization, and a university, apart from others.
Why did you choose to get both your undergraduate and master’s degrees from Texas A&M?
When I was earning my bachelor’s degree in agronomy, I was impressed by the rich heritage of traditions that A&M has and the fact that most of those focus on caring for the community and helping others. That was very appealing to my younger self. I had always planned to go back to further my education and was fortunate enough to have a scholarship at A&M. I thought I would get my Ph.D. in agriculture, but after working for a few years, I decided to earn my MBA and pursue a career in marketing and international business.
What would you say to fellow MBA students who are interested in learning more about Georgia-Pacific internships?
The internships for MBA students at Georgia-Pacific are much broader than the typical marketing internship. In fact, they’re almost like three internships in one. Students get to think like a Wall Street analyst, developing points of view about the business and our industry; they can act like a general manager, determining all the possible initiatives the brands and business could invest in; and they can act like a brand manager, determining the best way to reach the consumer.
What is so different about the MBA internship at Georgia-Pacific?
Traditional marketing internships focus on developing television advertising, digital marketing and stand-out packaging. We do all of that, but at Georgia-Pacific, MBA interns can also help drive cost out of the supply chain, identify ways to take waste out of our manufacturing operations or recommend changes to our pricing strategy to help our sales teams. I see our internships as a more holistic approach to the function of brand management.
What is the advice you like to give to students/potential employees?
I tell them that their background isn’t a primary focus at Georgia-Pacific. We are not so caught up in what your undergraduate degree was in or what work experience you have on your résumé. What we want to know is what you are good at doing and how you can use that knowledge to help us make and market products that we are proud of, and that our consumers are delighted with each and every time they use them.
Fernando González is president of Georgia-Pacific’s consumer products business. Prior to joining Georgia-Pacific in 1998, González gained brand management expertise in U.S. and international markets with Procter & Gamble in Mexico and Argentina, and with Borden Foods, Mars, Inc., and Compaq Computer in the United States. He holds a bachelor’s degree in agronomy and a master’s of business administration from Texas A&M University.