MBA Day Camp: A Quick Study of Four Essential B-School Principles

On October 24, the Capital Chapter invited Aveek Guha and Ranjan Daniels, co-founders of MBA Day Camp, to run a one-day course in lieu of the Chapter’s usual October half-day program.  Nearly 40 “campers” attended as the presenters went through a curriculum that included the four cornerstones of an MBA degree: strategy, marketing, accounting, and finance.  Aveek and Ranjan’s conversational style and engaging presentation skills kept the presentation moving as students went through a fairly dense curriculum in a short amount of time.

Key takeaways from the program included: 

MBA2.jpgStrategy

Using real-world examples such as The Washington Post, Starbucks, Uber, and other corporations, the presenters discussed major strategic analyses and how legal marketers could apply these to their everyday situations.  There are various frameworks used to conduct internal and external analyses: PEST (Political, Economic, Social, Technological), Porter’s Five Forces, and SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) Analysis.  Understand that strategies may need to change when markets do.  In evaluating the competitive landscape, think: Who is going after our customers?  Who can erode our revenue stream? 

Marketing

While most attendees would agree that this is a subject they have a good handle on (or should!), Aveek and Ranjan’s presentation was an excellent refresher, especially in light of specific challenges all marketers face.  This portion of the program focused on the value of consumer insights, market segmentation, buzz marketing, and the concept of creating value beyond price.  Although it seems simple, it bears repeating that most effective marketing solutions originate by thinking like a customer.  While developing any new marketing concept, think: Are we speaking in our customers’ language?  Do we understand our customers?  This can be particularly difficult, given that customers don’t always understand themselves and are not always acting rationally.   

Accounting

Accounting tasks may not be in the day-to-day scope of a legal marketer’s duties; however, a fundamental understanding of key accounting concepts can help when developing budgets and measuring ROI for marketing initiatives.  In addition, when pitching to public companies, it’s helpful to be able to obtain and review company financials to estimate legal spend, as well as to check for any accounting distortions.  The presenters reviewed basic financial statements, such as balance sheets, income statements, and statements of cash flow, and used the examples of Starbucks’ and McDonald’s annual reports to highlight the link between strategy and financials. When reviewing financials, think: How does this map year over year?  Is there any indication as to how competitors are faring?

Finance

This portion of the program was a very basic primer on finance principles, including the time value of money, valuation of companies, managing risk, and key financial terms.  There was also discussion on the fundamentals of derivatives, hedge funds, private equity funds, and inversions.  From a legal marketing standpoint, when evaluating projects, think: What is the cost of capital, risk, and the ROI for this strategy? 

Overall, this program was successful in driving home key MBA concepts in one short day.  Using strategy to analyze customers; marketing to define a segment and develop a story; accounting to measure performance; and finance to enable long term planning, legal marketers can use the insights provided by the MBA Day Camp to take their efforts to the next level.

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By Azeema Mohaideen, Business Development Manager at McDermott Will & Emery, for the November/December 2014 issue of the Capital Ideas Newsletter.

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