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Editor’s note: This story is one in a series exploring corporate partnerships with Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business.
Harbert is “providing well-educated students who can participate in real world projects and situations right out of college.” – Lashel Williamson, associate recruiting manager
Businesses that successfully recognize and embrace societal change look to evolve and find new ways to thrive with their consumer base. Altria is one such operation and is using its partnership with Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business to help lead its efforts.
Altria’s family of companies includes Philip Morris USA; U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company; John Middleton; Helix Innovations and Philip Morris Capital Corporation.
“While our companies have evolved over the years, our success is still firmly rooted in our companies’ ability to understand changing consumer preferences and societal views toward tobacco,” said company spokeswoman Lashel Williamson, an associate recruiting manager. “Our ‘Vision through 2030’ is to responsibly lead the transition of adult smokers to a non-combustible future.”
Altria recently launched a trademarked program, Moving Beyond Smoking, to “lead the way in moving adult smokers away from cigarettes by taking action to transition millions to potentially less harmful choices,” she said. “A successful company is always evolving, and Altria represents more than a century-and-a-half of business innovation and sustained, disciplined growth.”
Williamson credits a successful partnership with Harbert as an example of finding the talent that can help her company achieve its goals.
“With many members of our Auburn University recruiting team being AU graduates (and also from the Harbert College of Business), we have seen first-hand the dedication that Auburn provides students in preparation for their lives beyond college,” Williamson said. “Altria leadership has also recognized this as well, leading to increased financial and personnel investments from Altria to leverage in our partnership with Auburn.
“Over the past five years, Altria has consistently increased the number of Auburn students we offer summer internships to as well as the number of full-time offers that are made to Auburn students.
“Additionally, we love spending time on campus engaging with faculty and students in classroom presentations, resume reviews, mock interviews, and skill workshops.
“Altria has found it very beneficial to engage with departments all over Auburn’s campus to capitalize on the strength and diversity of the student population,” she said, “but the Harbert College of Business continues to be the strongest relationship we have with Auburn.
““The academic framework that Harbert provides to students aligns seamlessly with the success we see with Auburn interns and full-time employees, and we are extremely grateful for the strong relationships we have been able to develop with Harbert.””
She noted that Altria’s interest in Auburn isn’t limited to recruiting.
“We engage with many faculty in various departments in the Harbert College of Business as well as the Office of Professional and Career Development,” Williamson said. “We are currently exploring how we can be a strong partner financially, and from a time investment perspective with the evolving sales initiatives that are being introduced at Harbert.”
Edward Reynolds, Harbert’s corporate and foundation relations officer, says Altria has actively recruited Harbert students for several years.
“Those graduates have shared positive accounts of their experiences as interns and new, full-time hires with the company,” he said. “Altria has also been a champion for Harbert’s sales education initiatives.
“Their support of the program allows students in pursuit of careers in sales to refine their business development acumen and build their professional networks across the industry.
“Altria not only supports the Harbert College of Business, but other academic units across the Auburn University campus,” Reynolds said, “including the College of Liberal Arts, Office of Inclusion and Diversity and the Veterans Resource Center.
Williamson praised the “ready to work” ability of Harbert graduates.
“I think we can safely say that Harbert’s commitment to education serves Altria by providing well-educated students who can participate in real world projects and situations right out of college,” she said.
That includes, she said, “providing innovative and creative ideas, and sound business sense, that helps Altria to drive toward our overall goal of responsibly Moving Beyond Smoking.”