Companies Discovery

In this episode, we will talk about the discovery of companies or how to do research on companies we as MBAs may want to join. This episode is part of the consulting series where we dive into how to get into consulting. This show is brought to you by Optness Institute. At Optness we teach advanced management methodologies like Lean Six Sigma, Agile, Data Visualization, and more for MBAs.

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Episode Notes

Company Discovery Process

Hello, Orestes. Welcome back to the show. I’m very happy to have you here back again at the MBA talk. We were talking about consulting for the last time, and we will continue to talk about consulting in the next episode as well.

However, in this and in the next episodes, I think the content will be very helpful for people that want to go in any kind of industry, is that right?

[01:01] Yes. Thanks, Andrés. It is nice to be back again. That’s right. So we have the series that we’ve prepared. And this will be a series on recruiting as an MBA in business school. So, we will cover a number of topics in the series itself,  going through and looking at, for example, how do you discover a company? How do you do effective networking? Preparing for interviews, applying for jobs, and then also finally choosing the right company to go for. And then also moving to potentially the new country where your job will be. And we can share a lot of practical experience and learnings over many years on this topic.

MBA Goals and Objectives to Target Companies and Industry

Starting with the topic for today, which would be discovery. What are some initial points you can give about discovering companies? 

[02:00] Yes. So, it’s very important before you start applying for jobs as an MBA to specific companies, because it takes a lot of time, a lot of effort. Also, the success of an application is not guaranteed. So as MBA students need to make sure that first of all, they know that they’re targeted in the companies that are interested to recruit into.

And this comes from a number of places. So clearly, the first area is what is the goal of coming into the MBA in the first place. So some people maybe want to stay in the same industry, but move to a different region, a different country.

Perhaps they want to work on the global level where before they were working on a subsidiary on a local level, and you need to think about these goals. Other students are potentially interested in going to a new industry, or a new job. So maybe people are previously working in oil and gas. Now they’d like to get into sustainable investing, or before they’re working in engineering or software development, and now interested in consulting.

So it’s important for each person individually to think, okay, what are your goals for coming into the MBA? What is your motivation from a career perspective? And then to really use that as the foundation to say, okay, which industry? Which region? And which companies? Am I really interested in it? So that you can be targeted in your applications, and in all of the efforts that you will make in the recruiting process.

The second thing to think about is very important. This is actually advice so if there are people that have not yet joined an MBA or are still considering which business school to join, as well as students that are currently in an MBA. Is to go and research what are the companies that typically recruit from your school? So there’s a number of ways to identify this. One way is in the company’s jobs reports that the school publishes. They’ll normally show, which are the top employers from the MBA program of your school.

And how do they know this? They have different ways of defining it. But normally, this is a threshold, so maybe taking more than one student in a year, or having a trend of recruiting students over many years. So that’s definitely in the jobs report. You’ll also see it in the recruiting fairs that are taking place on campus, companies that are sponsoring events on campus, companies coming to do presentations on recruiting days. So maybe they have a consulting recruiting firm, or they have an alumni networking event or a CEO presentation.

So it’s important to look at the previous years, and also the current year’s event schedule. Because their students will be to see, okay, these are the companies that already planned to come to campus. Maybe the CEO is an alumni of the school, maybe they have a relationship of multiple alumni, or they have a long-standing relationship with this school as well. And this is already an indication that these are companies that are clearly interested in hiring students from your particular MBA.

 So that’s a clear one. And the other one to understand the target companies for your school is also to see who are the donors, so the major donors or contributors, financial contributors to the school itself. And there you will also be able to see it in reports. Especially in the US, the schools also publish the donor list annually of the alumni and companies that are sponsoring the school. You can even see maybe there are some lecture rooms that have been sponsored by specific companies.

That’s also a very good indication and then also, for example, when I was at HEC Paris in the MBA, there’s actually in the main foyer before you go to the library, all of the donor companies actually have clocks on the wall. So you can even walk up there, and then see which other companies are the major donors to the school.

So if they’re major donors, then it’s also highly likely that they will also be interested in recruiting students from the school because there’s already quite a deep partnership. There’s an established partnership and they see the value of the school. That’s why they donate to the school. Clearly, it also extends to see the value of the students having an education from that MBA.

And then finally, I mean, the other aspect when it comes to discovery, is that I always advise students and also as an MBA admissions interviewer myself. I’m also one of the key things that we interview for, and we test for the clarity of career goals, post-MBA the feasibility of those goals.

So clearly, it’s good to have a well-developed vision and an idea before joining the MBA. So that when you can really hit the ground running and be targeted, when it comes to your research and your recruiting efforts.

It’s also possible and this is also a benefit of joining a global MBA is preference discovery. So it happens very often in a good way that students already have an idea of what they want to do. But then actually, when they join the MBA, you learn about new industries or new sectors or new possibilities that maybe you weren’t aware of before. Or maybe that’s really innovative or only existing in the region or the country where you’re doing your MBA.

That can also be definitely viable to see, okay, perhaps you can do some discovery. And then you also discover companies, which also may be aligned to your goals or you develop your goals further. Maybe they also have partnerships with a school that you didn’t know about them before. And this is also interesting, and it’s perfectly good to do that, to allow this preference discovery to take place.

I can give some examples for myself. So when I was in the MBA HEC in Paris, the luxury sector is a very strong recruiter and sector for the school itself and they also have luxury certificates in partnership with Kiring group which is owning Chanel. Also with Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy group as well because the CEO is an alumna of HEC, and so on.

 So, I was also using that as an opportunity to get exposure to the luxury sector through clubs, activities, tracks, speakers on campus. And that at a point in time, for me, it was really seen as viable for a marketing job and branding or a kind of a retail based industry. It was very interesting already.

Another sector that I discovered was the impact investing sector. So this is where you have venture capital combined with social mission or so goals, and having the combination of this. And that was also something interesting and something I considered quite strongly and would still consider in the future.

As we will go through in the latter part of the podcast where you discover these preferences. But yeah, I would say like, these are the three key areas that stand out to say, okay, which companies in terms of your discovery would you target. And I can maybe also add one more to this is just to think about your own skills, and how they align with particular industry.

So as you’re in the MBA and you’re learning about the companies, you can also see your profile and your skill set are a natural match for certain companies and industries. And that of course, is also good when it comes to coming up with a shortlist or a target list of companies.

In terms of this first part, really the aim in the whole discovery, the output for you should be to have a target list of companies, companies’ roles and regional country. So in that then you can be specific because the company’s also recruiting in this way. So the companies are recruiting on a regional level for specific jobs as a company.

And also even in the relationship when we get to networking later on in job applications, this sometimes even separate websites. There’s definitely separate recruiters for it for different regions. So definitely, whether it’s consulting with its marketing roles or banking, whatever the case might be. For a role, when you apply, the recruiter will always be a city or country based recruiter. And they know the requirements of that country, with that region for the company and the roles that they recruit for. And their relationship and their review of your profile will be like that.

So it’s also then important that you target your application as well. It’s very seldom that they use global job applications. It’s very matching the national and regional level.

Important Knowledge and Understanding you Need to Know of your Targets

What are the key things an MBA should be aware of when researching targeted companies and industry?

Got it. Okay. So anyways, let’s say I’m a student with a clear vision of my goals or either I don’t need to map out all these variables or all these information right about companies, key trends, cultures, geographic expansion of the companies. Yeah, can you talk a little bit about that. So what are the key things I should be aware of when researching for companies?

[11:32] Yeah, that’s a very good point. I think that it helps to produce a created kind of a matrix, to have an Excel spreadsheet, and have a table. This is also helping with your planning so you can also keep track. So first, you can use the sheets overall, you can have an Excel spreadsheet, which also had me, to manage your recruiting efforts, to keep track of everything.

And the first step of doing that is to capture all the information. So as you’re doing the research, is to then, actually, write in your research and the key points of each company that you discover. So some of the key factors would definitely be what is the company name? Where’s the headquarters? Because it tells you what the country culture of the companies is, is it a US company or European, Asian company, and it also tells you a little bit about the culture.

Then another key factor is the sector or the industry that they would fall into because there’s also a general trend. Of course, if it’s a luxury industry, there’s a common culture, if it’s consulting, there’s also a common culture and a common recruiting requirements because they’re recruiting for the same type of profiles or same role. Same with investment banking, with the energy sector. Every sector has this kind of common aspect. So, it’s also good to kind of categorize them for yourself, and go, okay, if I’m looking at Amazon, this is an e-commerce business for example, and noted like that.

Following the sector, it will then be to look at what is the main business of this company? You have to understand that. And sometimes it sounds like a simple question. But if you dig a bit deeper, it’s not because if you look at Amazon, for example, the first thing that comes to mind is e-commerce.

But then on the other hand, the way Amazon organizes the business is actually in three major parts. The three main parts we know about, the one is the e commerce business, and that’s actually more broken down into the merchandising, the product side, the retail side. Where you have vendor management, merchandising, an inventory management and product management roles that they recruit for.

And then you also work with sellers. So you have the marketplace, which is the marketplace where Amazon has third party sellers listing the products, as well as the products Amazon sells themselves. But then on the other hand, you also have the operation side. So within Amazon, the Operations Division and logistics is running it’s an own entity. And then you also have recruiting and a career path. And these roles are only in operations from a leadership development perspective on the GM level, and it could be regional or a site specific role.

And then the third part of Amazon’s business is Amazon Web Services, which is a cloud computing company. It is a totally different business unit, different skill set, different requirements.

So that’s what I would say is that look at each company and understand the business that they’re in. I’ll give an example. I did my internship in the MBA at Merck in Switzerland. And if you look at that business, it’s a pharmaceutical company in general, but actually, it’s made up of three parts. One is the pharmaceutical business or healthcare business. Another is high performance materials which is used in aerospace and automotive manufacturing. And the other part is diagnostic equipment.

So even within that, you can see that on this below the surface, you need to understand the business units of companies and because that’s when you investigate roles, it will be there.

The next section to look at is to see what are the key principles of the company. And then you can read the statements on the company. They may have maybe a list of principles or missions or values that they would publish.

And for example, Johnson and Johnson is one company that has this. So they have the credo, which they refer to. And this is from a very strong part of the culture of what is the purpose and principles of the company. And clearly also in the recruiting process, when they’re looking at bringing people into the company, that people that have high landmines and a high buy in to that credo in their way of doing business will definitely have a higher chance. So one way is that you can align yourself with the culture, but you can also see if the culture is also fitting for you as an individual.

The next line you can put in there is what are the key skills that they’re looking for? And, of course, this is the kind of job that you’re interested in. So you need to be role specific. But what you would do there is you can actually look at job profiles that they have in their area.

So if you’re interested in the finance role, for example, you can go on LinkedIn, you can go on their career site, and you can actually go and see, what are the requirements that they put in the job profiles? Are there some common elements? Is there a trend? Because if there’s a number of skills or characteristics that are repeated, from a recruiting perspective, or HR perspective, these are key principles that they’re looking for.

And that also gives you, and that is really starting to help you to prepare for interviews and at job applications because there will be a job application, there will be a cover letter, and then interview as well. And again, it’s about fit at the end of the day, the recruiting process.

And finally what I would say is also to just save any links, if you’re doing research, put the link to the actual career sites, put the link for the company information, and add it to your sheet. Because if you want to go back and you’re starting to prepare for a job application, you don’t have to start from the beginning. So it’s saving you time to have the links and going directly back.

So, these are the things that I would recommend. as we’re going through the podcast series. I think it’s good for us to come back to this tool, having this Excel spreadsheet. then we can see, okay, how do we add on more information as we progress through the process, but this would be the first column for sure.

The Information That is Relevant to Know in Recruiting

What other things can we research that maybe at first sight we are not aware of?

[17:43] When you actually start doing the research of the companies that you’re interested in. So in the discovery you have an idea in terms of targeting. Now to go and do an in depth research, and this is the next step actually.

So the first step is a high level overview of what we’ve discussed so far. But then it’s now narrowed down. So the first idea is that we have this target list. And now you need to research the companies in detail. And these are some tips that I will share today.

So one of the key things when you’re looking at your industry is what are the key trends of that industry? What is currently happening? What are the top of mind issues that’s affecting the whole industry? And that’s also in the mind of the leaders of companies, in employees, it’s the content of the strategy of those companies. It’s something that gets discussed at conferences. It’s something that everyone knows. It’s almost like this common knowledge about, okay, these are some factors or trends that for the next five years are going to affect the business.

So, some examples at the moment, given the current situation is the work from home is a trend. And the work from home is even a stronger trend in the tech industry, as well. So I’ve seen in this week, there are some companies, tech companies that are saying, by default, they’ll now work from home or remote working companies. And the offices will be scaled down and just kept as a co workspace or as a collaboration space as optional. The fact is there, there will also then be having remote workers in all countries and regions.

So, that’s a trend another key trend that many people will notice is digitalization. The digitalization it’s affecting all industries, some more than others, but it’s always a key trend as well in general. And so these are some of them. But if you get into specific industries, you can see one or more of the trends, right. So sustainability is also a strong trend.

So some trends are existing across all, going across the whole, all the sectors and industries. But then there’s also another set of trends, which are more specific to one industry. So if you take, for example, retail, the retail before was brick and mortar, and it’s moving a lot to online or mobile shopping.

And for example, in the luxury industry, this was the case. So before it was always in the store, having the culture of the high-end boutique, and the relationship with the customer. The customer coming in with an appointment, and seeing the products and then having the assistant helping them to buy something. And now that’s been evolving. Now actually you can even buy high end luxury goods or fashion items online, and have it delivered at home with a return policy of 30 days.

So that’s definitely a trend and the trend is important because they want to see how the MBAs, the future leaders of the company are going to help the company to be ready for the trend or to take advantage of the trend. Because this is new and when they hire new people with fresh clean minded MBA, they know that you have the latest knowledge and they want you to be part of those initiatives, which has also been the case for myself. Since I’ve started in consulting, I’ve done a spin on the first part of my tenure there, actually in digitalization topics. So, this is already giving you an idea.

The second part to look at is the culture of the company. So, the culture of the company you look at it as what is the culture? The culture, we can define it as the principles. What are the values of the company? and what do they put on their annual report? What do they put on the website that they say as a company this is our mission statement, this is our leadership principles, this is how we engage with communities, this is our view on environmental sustainability, this is our goal of how we service our customers.

So a lot you can see about the culture from what is published because this is what the company is saying about itself, this is what they’re proud to show. But the culture, you will also get by meeting people.

And in the next episode, we will cover the networking. So, you know, there’s so there’s different ways as well of seeing the culture firsthand. Definitely also doing job tracks, or career tracks, which many schools are doing to actually go to the companies to visit the office or to visit their operation. That will also give you an idea of the culture, of the style, of the employees behavior, of the skill sets that they have. Do they have more technical people or marketing people, is it more financial orientation? So sometimes it’s also like, what is it more a finance business, or cost based industry or company, or is it more of a brand based business? Is it a consumer focused business, or is it B2B? Because that’s a different culture, a different approach, if it’s consumer oriented versus business or B2B oriented.

I guess the type of clients that you will work with defines a lot about the culture as well. Right?

[23:05] Absolutely. So that’s, that definitely affects the culture. So if someone is working in consulting, it’s a B2B market. But you clearly deal with executives on strategic topics of companies, with projects with large budgets. So clearly, they’re the culture is going to be in a certain type of culture of doing a project for a very strategic topic in a short timeframe, with very high quality output and strategic view.

And that and having okay being in professional services, wearing the suit, also having a tie, meeting with senior people, being prepared, being professional. That’s going to be very important. Of course, on the other hand, if MBAs are interested in joining startups, for example, of course, it’s a whole very different culture, more informal, more agile, more dynamic, more casual.

And that’s important to know, because first of all is what is your preference. So if you can see which style you prefer, but the other one is, of course, the fit. So when you go for, if you apply for a job or have an interview with a tech startup, it will be a different process to a consulting firm for sure. And that’s how you can see that’s kind of, I think, a good contrasting example of culture.

The other aspect is products and services. So it’s very important to know like, what does the company actually produce? What is it to? So, is it a product company, is it in manufacturing? Is it a services type of business? It is very important to know the product portfolio, to know the brands because when it comes to networking and interviewing, this is how you actually portray your knowledge and show your knowledge of the company to the recruiter, or to someone who’s working there.

And people in the company they attached to the brands, they focus on the products because that’s the main purpose of the company is to produce the goods and services. So do the research on that, know if also there’s some interesting upcoming products or services, that you can also show that you have an insight.

And one example of this is in the pharmaceutical industry, that pharma companies have massive investment in R&D on certain medicines or drugs. And, the approval of a drug in the market can have a massive impact, a positive financial impact on the company, and on the share price. And the success of the company for next to at least a 10 year period.

So, when I was working in pharma, this was also important to know because you can see which drugs are actually in clinical trials with FDA, for example. And based on them being in the clinical trial phase, and the prospect of them being approved. This is also very good, detailed knowledge for discussion with the pharma company to show that you understand also the drug pipeline and what’s important for them because that is a key part of their business is the R&D pipeline as well.

The other one is also to know if you do detailed, deep dive research, is also to know what the next products and services of the company are. And this sometimes you can get from interviews that executives make, maybe a podcast, maybe an article in a business publication, where a CEO or a head of a product group will actually make a statement to say, previously, we were focusing on like automotive industry, or previously, we’re focusing on diesel technology and fuel efficiency. Now we’re very focused on mobility, and electric vehicles and autonomous technology.

Coming into the company, it’s good not to talk about what’s currently happening, but more about where the company is moving to. And then to show your education And skills on that future state of the company from a product or service perspective.

And I think that takes me also to the next point. So, company strategy is also critical because the strategy for good companies or the best companies have a strong culture. But they also have a very clear strategy that gets communicated to the employees. And again, knowing the strategy also helps you to fit with the company itself, to know where it’s moving. Is it motivating for you? Does it make sense? And also, how do you relate to that? And also showing the fit that you have with the company, that you see this interest, to support them to meet the next five year strategy that they’ve set up.

The other one is regulations. So regulations are important because it’s something that people in the company, the managers and the senior people are thinking about because it’s something it’s a regulation, maybe in Europe, in the US that is changing. Then now they need to adapt the business model,  or the need to change the product or change the service process.

So that’s also a good one from a talking perspective, from showing knowledge is understanding. What are the regulations? Has there been a change? Is there potential change that can happen? And then showing you know that you have an understanding of it. Also for you as an MBA, that maybe there’s a regulation that could negatively affect the industry.

And that also is helpful for you to see, okay, is this the best company to join? Or is there potentially some regulatory risk on this company? So at the moment, I mean, there’s some examples of this. So clearly, the tobacco industry is under pressure. So from a regulatory perspective, there’s always more regulation every year to reduce advertising, to change the packaging, to do a lot of regulatory impact which ultimately will affect the viability of the industry or the financial performance.

It’s also been discussed for the last few years, even since I was in the business school, are tech companies a monopoly? Because it becomes so big that they have great products, of course. They have great brands. So this is like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter and so on.

And then is that discussion of are they too big? Is it maybe a monopoly situation? Does it need to be more competitive? And it’s always been becoming a topic. Even with Google in the European Union, there’s been a number of rulings where there was, you know, potentially, you know, uncompetitive behavior. So, even your strongest companies, you need to consider, okay, is there something there that potentially it’s a risk. But also that you can help them if you join in.

Moving further, also the business model is very important. I think as an MBA, for me, it’s probably one of the most important is to understand the business model of a company. And what we mean by that business model is how do they operate? How do they create value? So it’s not just the products that sell. But how do they create value? So if it’s a pharma company, clearly there’s an R&D perspective that they do. But there’s also an M&A component because they’re also buying startups or biotech companies that have very promising discoveries.

And doing an M&A, to buy those technologies or those patents or those drugs, to then develop them further. So M&A is already there. R&D is already there. Then, clearly, there’s the regulatory approval process. So that’s an important part of the business model, the regulatory affairs and getting approval. And then the other important part of the business model is the sales, distribution and manufacturing.

So, having this end to end understanding of Okay, what is the model of this business? It also then helps you to say, okay, where do I fit in? Where do I have the skills? If you’re recruiting for a position, which part of the model is this position in? And how do you add value as an individual coming into that?

Geographic expansion is the next point, also interesting. So companies that are geographically expanding, if you expand in the region where you from or region you know. That’s also very helpful because then you can position yourself as an expert as knowledgeable on the local markets that they want to go into. You can really give them some advice, you can show that you have some ideas, because if you understand the business model of the company, and the product portfolio, and the strategy and the key trends. You can then also relate that and come up with your own concept of how they should enter the market and how they should adapt the product portfolio. So this would be a very interesting conversation, when someone is joining a company to show them about the expansion. But also that they already have some ideas on how that would best work.

Competitive environment is another one, so just knowing what are the competitors of that company, and what also not just direct competitors like the different brands that compete. But also, what are the competitive products and services beyond the traditional ones that you can serve? Is there substitution? Is there a competitor?

For example, a trade off. So if you have Netflix, people would say Netflix can be a competitor for the restaurant business. Because people decide to stay at home. They’ll naturally eat at home, or they want to have an experience out of home. So it’s like in home versus out of home competitive options, as opposed to just Amazon Prime Video versus Netflix. And that’s level one, basic competitive analysis. But then taking it a step further.

Disrupt the factors, also, people focus on this,  what is disrupting an industry definitely is top of mind. So people are really aware of that in the company. And again, they’re always trying to find solutions to these disruptions. If you have some ideas or opinions about how it can be done better, it’s nice showing your skills and your creativity.

I’d say also very importantly is to understand what are the key skills for that company, or that industry or sector. They are very clear skill sets, for example, in consulting, that are there. As an example, what are those analytical skills clearly, problem solving, working in teams collaboratively, being able to be structured, to structure problems and find solutions to them. Also, customer Engagement, having good communication skills, being able to engage with a client, being able to facilitate a workshop to present results convincingly to influence people.

In every industry you have this set of skills that are there for different kinds of specific job functions. So whether it’s finance or marketing, or legal role or investment banking, there is a kind of. So you need to learn about these skills. And that I think the best place to look for that is normally through speaking to some networking, speaking to alumni, people are in those jobs. But also to look at job profiles and to speak to recruiters in recruiting events, engage in those sessions because then you can ask them what are the key skills that they’re looking for in people.

And then you can see of course, it helps you to also tailor the cover letter. It also helps you to understand the MBA. Maybe you can have an opportunity to develop skills in that area because the MBA is quite long, so you can also develop skills towards this industry that you’re interested in.

To round it off, I would also look at executive opinion. So this helps. Very often CEOs are going on to CNBC or they give podcasts and give opinions. So there you can also get a lot of information that is not normally publicly available. The CEO shares the thought process or what they are  currently working on with the teams. That’s also very nice. And you can actually refer to that.

So you can say in their networking when the recruiting process, actually I watched the pod, I listened to a podcast or watched an interview with the CEO of the company. And it’s very interesting that he was saying that this is what he’s thinking about, and this is the way the company’s going. And, in the company, people are also very focused on executive opinion, what executives are saying and what the views are. It’s also a good match, and it also shows a good fit because you already know the priorities of the leadership of the company itself.

Finally, the recruiting needs. Think about so recruiting needs is very important to know. Because it happens that some companies in some years, they don’t recruit people at all. They have a recruiting freeze. Okay, so we’re recording this in 2020. When we come in out of the corona crisis, and clearly there are companies that have stated that they will not have external recruiting for the foreseeable future. So they’ll recruit internally. Or some companies would even lay off people, unfortunately, maybe if this continues for longer.

So, you need to research that and ask the question. So, is the company actually recruiting in a given year? And then which roles are they recruiting for? And then how many positions are they filling as well? That they will tell you. Are they recruiting MBAs more importantly? And for which roles and for which regions? So is it in your region or the country where you’re studying? Maybe they’re not recruiting. And I did see that this happened in the business school is that people have a dream company or dream job they want to get. But just from a bad timing, unlucky timing, which is that that company’s just not recruiting. So it’s closed off to you as an opportunity.

On the other hand, you also need to see which companies are recruiting and a lot of them are. And there you could also be surprised. Sometimes it’s also about going and finding where the opportunities are. So be open minded. This is also part of the preference discovery, it can also be a discovery of opportunity as well. And think about who is there. So if you go on LinkedIn, you’ll see a lot of people or CEOs that actually have in the name next to the name, we’re hiring.

So that’s actually a good way to go and see a lot of startups. And I think startups now are using this as an opportunity to get really talented people now in the current situation. But it’s there to go asking the question in networking events, on LinkedIn reaching out to recruiters.

So normally what I’ve seen in a lot of the bigger companies. So your fortune 500 companies in Europe, they normally have like a campus coordinator or MBA recruiter or campus recruiter. And then that person that could come to the campus or you could actually search with him on LinkedIn, if you have the right search term. And they can actually tell you if they’re recruiting or not. The same applies also to internships, which we haven’t touched on yet. But I can tell you, all these principles apply just as much to internships as it would for a full time role. It’s exactly the same process. So the recruiting event is there, and then the recruiting lead, of course, so this is, you know, what you should identify,

Main Sources of Information to Research

 Where do you suggest an MBA should look for information?

Well Orestes, we covered a lot of ground here. How does one keep up to date with all this information? I mean, there are, of course, clear sources of information. But if we want to make a summary of the source of information, where do you suggest an MBA should look?

[38:45] Yeah, so that’s very important, of course. And the thing is, there’s actually multiple sources. And the principle here is that is not to use one source. So it’s not to say there’s the best source of information, but it’s to use the best combination with as many sources as possible to get the full picture. Because all of the points we’ve discussed before this, you can’t get from one source. That’s the point, you need to get it from multiple sources.

So I’ll run through them. The first one is clearly the Career Center organized workshops and talks. Part of the benefit of joining a good MBA program is that they’ll have a career center with resources, with relationships with companies. That they will actually bring companies in to do presentations. That’s a very good source of information.

But they also bring in experts, so they’re also doing workshops or talks from alumni or maybe from consultants which they bring in which are helping you to understand a particular industry. And this was also happening when I was at HEC is that it would be like deep dive sessions or get to know workshops.

Normally, they were done on the weekend. It was a full day workshop, even a two day workshop. Where a person would come in as an expert on consulting on investment banking, on marketing, sustainability, all different sectors. And then they would actually do a tutorial on a workshop, going through the whole industry, from the key companies, through to the skills, to the recruiting processes, to the recruiting calendars, all of these factors.

So that is really great. It’s a huge benefit to have exposure to that because it’s really a shortcut. And giving you a lot of information also inside because normally those alumni or those consultants are in the industry already, or they might be recruiters in the industry, or have had recruiting roles in multiple companies. So a very good way to look at it.

Also talking about the Career Center is also to talk to specific Career Center managers or partners. The Career Center is also trying to have people working there, to partner with students that have actually come from the industry. And they try to keep in a diverse portfolio or a diverse group of Career Center managers, who can then also share their information and their work network with you and the context.

So, Career Center is the first stop, a great resource and it’s an advantage. So this is something that’s not publicly available to anyone. It’s actually only for the MBAs in the schools that have this. Career center and you should use it.

The other one is to look at the career fairs that are on the campus. So this is also where you can do a lot of networking itself, which we’ll cover in the next episode. But the Career Fairs are where companies are coming to campus, bringing brochures. They are coming with employees, not just recruiters, but often also employees of the company. They have videos that they can share, and you can also talk to people directly and ask questions.

So this is where MBAs need to be very strategic in doing their preparation very early in the MBA. Even before the MBA or really start the planning process. So that when you join the MBA program, from the first opportunity that is to go to the workshops or the talks or the career fair. That you plan to be there. You target the companies. You already have prepared your facts, and all the information we’ve spoken about. That you can go and be effective in targeting specific companies because you can’t talk to everyone in the time that’s available, you have to be selective.

And that’s where the career fairs come in, you get a huge amount of information if you’re prepared with a good set of questions. Also prepared with your own understanding, you can definitely get a lot out of it.

Company websites are definitely a key stop. I would say one of the main sources that you need to go along your journey. And you know why because the company websites normally have a section with a mission, with the principles, with the goals. They will have annual reports and annual reports or maybe 100 page documents. There’s also a lot of information there, a statement by the CEO, maybe even business about different businesses about the future about the challenges.

For example, US companies, they’re required to also list material risks that the company faces in the investor filing. That’s also a good place to find the regulatory risk or disruptive factors we’ve spoken about for example. And also, to understand the financial position of the company. Clearly for you, as an MBA, you want to work for a company that has a very good financial position because you place in your career, and your future in the company. But it’s also then Interesting to show that you understand the financial position, the investment plan, and so on. So it is also good to talk numbers at some point.

Other things with company websites, there could be other reports that could be social media, as well. And that brings me to the next point. So LinkedIn, very nice source of information. Because on LinkedIn companies, also then put in other content that’s not on the website or the company reports. It could be company events, it could be training. It kind of also snapshots a day in the life of the company employees, and events that are valuable for them that they are proud to share with everyone.

And also, you’ll see on Facebook, on LinkedIn on Twitter, there’s also other sets of information that are shared there, right. So LinkedIn could be more like company or, or formal or professional events. But then on Facebook, the companies are having more of a brand focus, more of a fun side or a kind of a social space. And then you can also learn a lot from that and maybe even get to see.

You can get to know employees of the company if they are included in the LinkedIn or the social media activities because you’ll have the name. And then you can also use that to reach out to them on LinkedIn. When you stop the networking process and say, use it as a good starting point to say, Ah, I actually watched this video about your company, and I saw that you actually had a good statement or you’re very positive about the company itself. And that can be a very nice starting point.

Researching on Information about the Inside of a Company

Is LinkedIn a good source of inside information about a company? Are there other good sources? 

On this point, I would add that if you add some employee from the company, pay attention to what they share on LinkedIn because that may give you a sense of what they are interested in or what’s going on inside the company.

[45:44] Yeah, absolutely. And this is also something I’m doing myself. I’m also sharing the company posts on my LinkedIn profile. And, that’s definitely a good way to do it as well to see what people individuals are sharing. And also, especially senior people, what they’re sharing because it’s kind of like getting an insight into their thought process, which is great. Like this was not existing I think even five or 10 years ago, it was not so typical to share this publicly.

So the final ones that I have are books. Sometimes actually reading a book getting to know an industry can be helpful. For people that are interested in McKinsey, for example, there was actually a book that was written about McKinsey, the corporate culture, the history and so on. So yes, again, a book is, it’s not the most up to date information. But if you really are passionate about a company, you can read up about it.

Like Jack Welch’s autobiography, which he wrote about in his career. And his experience of leading the company would be interesting. There’s his books on Google, on Facebook, on Amazon. So on all the big companies actually there’s been something published. If you’re really passionate about a company and you managed to find some time to read a book in the MBA, which is not easy, it can also be an opportunity. I mean, of course, you can also selectively research the book content.

YouTube, I’ll add on as well. I think it’s for me something separate from their LinkedIn and social media, which is more like short posts. On YouTube, it’s more or longer in professionally produced videos and content. So what I’ve found is that, from LinkedIn, to Facebook, to YouTube, you get different content, also the company website, it’s all different types of content. So YouTube is there, and also, I mean, perhaps even third party views.

And finally, the sorts of information which we’ve touched on as well, but is really a networking. So networking is a huge source of information. And, that means, talking to people who work for the company, speaking to recruiters, engaging with alumni, and doing that further. But we’ll actually do a deep dive with the networking topic on the next episode.

 —

That’s the perfect teaser to make you listen to the next episode. Okay, Orestes, thank you very much, we really covered a lot of things here. So we have the notes on our website. Again, if people want to reach out to you, they can use LinkedIn. And yeah, stay tuned for the next episode we will deep dive into networking, which is probably one of the most important sources of information right and recruiting.

Yeah, that’s great. Thanks, Andreas. Until the next one.

Thank you for joining for this episode of the MBA talk podcast. A podcast brought to you by Optness Institute. You can find all Notes for this episode, as well as SUBSCRIBE for future episodes at optness.com/mbatalk. And if you’re enjoying the show, or have any comments, topics, or guest suggestions. I love you to shoot me an email. My name is Andres and you can write me to mbatalk@optness.com.

With that, thank you and we’ll see you in the next episode.

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