MBA Hacks: Use Teleconferences as Your Own Case Method

The Differentiated MBA
The Differentiated MBA (Photo credit: opensourceway)
By Christopher Lotito

The case method of teaching is a mainstay of tier 1 business schools throughout the world, including Harvard and its ilk.  Typically, the case method involves the study of individual business cases, which are short scenarios, designed to illustrate specific principles and to challenge the student to put into practice what they've learned in the classroom.

You can use this method to teach yourself about business, with real examples from the real world, whether you're a current MBA student, long out of school, or thinking about going back.  What I have done in the past is to search on Google's News website for upcoming teleconferences or webinars.  There are always several listed each month, so when I see a company that I think I'd benefit from learning about, I waste no time signing up for the conference call as a prospective investor (they usually don't even ask that much) and taking notes throughout what is usually about a 45 minute sneak peak into the boardroom.

My search term for this technique is usually:
upcoming teleconference OR webinar "press release"

A recent search yielded the following results, sorted by date of course.

When is the last time that you were able to convince the Board of Directors for a mid-sized corporation, with which you have no affiliation, to sit down and go over their business with you followed by a Q&A?  If you answered "recently," then Warren, you need to stop reading and get back to work!  Honestly, you may not get the Board of Directors, but chances are you can at least speak with the Director of Public Relations.

Your time is valuable and unless you're currently job-hunting, chances are you think this may be a bit too time consuming for you.  That's fine, but what if I said that you could use this same technique to get into your competitors' teleconferences?  That might make a difference right?  (In response to ethical concerns, you can generally presume information on these conference calls is public information, if perhaps a bit obscure.)

  • The search above turns up an upcoming call for Fast Casual restaurant, which will focus on their franchise expansion to Alaska and elsewhere:
  • Integrity Data will host a webinar to discuss streamlining Human Resources management using their technology solutions:
  • ...and food giant Amira will host their quarterly earnings call:

There is still more that we can do with this tactic though.  For example, say you wanted to learn about R Project, a programming language for data analysis.  You aren't getting your MBA in that, but you know that many of your colleagues are and you want to make sure you know enough to avoid embarrassing yourself in an interview.  A quick Google search for "upcoming webinars r project" (no quotes), yields free webinars from Revolution Analytics.  Note that these are upcoming hosted webinars, not previously recorded ones.  Prerecorded are very helpful, but we're seeking interactivity and direct access to management here:

For the curious, a much more haphazard approach is to search Google for "site:webex" (no quotes), then sort the results by date.  What you'll get is a huge list of upcoming, accessible webinars scheduled at Webex.  Just a couple include "Practical Law Training" from Thomson Reuters, "A Closer Look at the New Science of Motivation" from The Ken Blanchard Companies, and others.  A similar tactic is the Google search "inurl:webinar" (no quotes).

None of this will make you a 5 star MBA by itself, that's a long process that takes hard work, experience, and a high-tolerance for the word "no," but it will help to get you on conference calls with industry movers and shakers.

Finally, Webex does have a listing page for shared webinars, many of them business related, though at this time they all appear to be pre-recorded.

  At ChristopherLotito.Org, subscribers will find all the information they need to educate themselves and their families about the issues that effect their lives.  A Drew University graduate, Christopher Lotito is a 10 year veteran volunteer within his municipal government in Pequannock, New Jersey.  Lotito is also an accomplished local author and possesses a great depth of knowledge in both New Jersey history and flood control issues which he puts to use as an independent researcher.

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