Stephen Schwarzman, Blackstone CEO and co-founder, explains how feedback, education and promotions help make the private equity firm a best place to work in money management.. View more in this series

Best places to work: THE BLACKSTONE GROUP

New York | 1,992 employees | 1st among alternatives managers

Stephen Schwarzman
Stephen Schwarzman makes a point to meet regularly with staff every week.

Updated with correction

When an intern or lower-level analyst at The Blackstone Group LP wants to chat with the boss, all he or she has to do is call. CEO Stephen Schwarzman will return the call within 24 hours.

“Anyone in the firm can call me and get their call returned,” Mr. Schwarzman said in an interview. “I think of the firm as a small place.”

As such, Mr. Schwarzman said, management places a high priority on employee training, transparency and communication.

“One of the unusual things we do with almost all of our businesses is either Tony or I or both of us meet with members of different groups, in most cases every week,” Mr. Schwarzman said, referring to Hamilton “Tony” E. James, president and chief operating officer.

Blackstone employees highlighted this access in response to Pensions & Investments' survey for employees. “The environment is friendly, and there is a real open-door policy that allows you to discuss issues or share ideas,” noted one staffer.

For example, the private equity group meets every Monday morning for two hours. Video conferencing allows every member in the group worldwide to attend.

“We get everyone together in a business meeting, from a junior analyst to a partner. Everyone gets to hear everything we are doing,” Mr. Schwarzman said. “It's an opportunity for everyone not only to see senior management, but constantly be in touch with each other.

“It's a teaching moment really ... That's why I believe this is a small firm. I can see almost everybody and they can see me.”

Employees waxed poetic about the quality and availability of training and the team environment.

“The people who work here are knowledgeable and encouragingly helpful. If you need help you know you'll always be able to find someone with the skills and training to teach you what you need to know to do your job better,” said one staffer. “They are also the most fun and personable people I've ever worked with.”

Training is important to Mr. Schwarzman, who quit his first financial services job — as a financial analyst with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette — after only nine months because of lack of training.

“We have great people ... We want to make sure they have a high level of training to do their jobs. This is something I didn't have when I started out and I want to make sure everybody has it here at Blackstone,” he said.

Laura Waitz, Blackstone's head of human resources, said employees also receive a great deal of feedback.

“We are rigorous in giving people feedback. It's not a conversation where you only get feedback at the end of the year,” Ms. Waitz said. “Here, people know how they are doing.”

Blackstone management wants employees to be happy with the trajectory of their careers.

“We don't want someone who is really capable to, in effect, hit a glass ceiling. Everyone needs to grow and advance constantly,” Mr. Schwarzman said.

Blackstone is always starting new business lines, giving management a way promote people with talent to more senior positions. “We don't want people feeling the necessity to leave to start something. We want them to stay at the firm and do it,” he said.

Several employees raved about their ability to grow. “I feel I have opportunities to advance as far as I'd want, as long as I don't stop improving upon my skills and knowledge,” a staffer wrote. “This is my final place of employment.”

The firm also provides little extras to help employees keep their lives outside of the office on an even keel.

“We do everything we can to make life here as manageable as possible for the employees and their families — to try and take the stress out of everything,” Ms. Waitz said. That includes back-up baby-sitters and elder-care providers, along with flexible work arrangements.

“Whether this is a great place to work is in the eye of each person. The way I see it is that it is more like a mission than it is a business,” Mr. Schwarzman said. “Our mission is to be the best-performing money manager in our field. Our mission is to be innovative. We are all dedicated to this.”