Ryan Browning basically had to bring back the Golden Fleece to land his job at Mercedes-Benz. But he had wanted to work there for a long time.
"It all goes back to my boyhood dream," he says. "I went to car shows every year. My dream car at the time was a 500SL. It just cemented in my mind, okay, Mercedes-Benz is a great company."
Fast-forward to Browning as an adult. After working in the Peace Corps for three years, doing financial advising in Burkina Faso and Senegal, Browning entered an MBA program at Duke University.
In 2007, Mercedes-Benz USA brought representatives to the annual National Black MBA Conference, which Browning attended. He introduced himself to the company's representatives, one of which was Michaela Sorvino, about an internship, but she said there wasn't one available. The same thing happened at the conference the next year. Later that year, the Mercedes reps came to Duke. Browning walked up to Sorvino and recognized her; he said he remembered her initials.
She was impressed. "I was like, every time I see you, there's nothing going on," he told Sorvino. But this time was different. Mercedes Benz had just started a program to train a select few in various parts of the business. Browning applied.
One application, a phone screen, a personality profile, and an IQ test later, Browning was invited for a final interview. He was studying in Paris at the time, completing his second year at business school. The company flew candidates in for the interview, but didn't have the budget to pay for an international flight, so Browning bit the bullet and paid his own way back to the U.S. for the final stage of the process.
He finished his coursework in Paris, and when he returned home, there was a job offer waiting for him. "After going through all that -- a career fair back in 2007, to actually getting an offer, that was a very happy moment."
Browning still appreciates his first love, the SL500, he says, although the 2013 Mercedes-Benz SLS with retro gullwing doors is probably his new favorite car.
In its 16th year, Fortune's ranking of the best workplaces in corporate America welcomes five list debutantes, and what's more, 78 of them are looking to fill nearly 67,000 jobs.
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