Skip to main content
Stony Brook University

BUS 195: Business Honors Seminar I - Business Leaders: Home

How to Think About Doing Research on a Person

Childhood: Where was the person born? What type of environment did they grow up in? What was the family's financial situation? Does the person have siblings? What did the person's parents do? Did their childhood influence their career choice or their management style? Can you find any stories from the person's childhood?

Education: Where did the person go to college? (Once you know that you may be able to find some information about the person at the college's website, perhaps their yearbook is available online.) What degree(s) does the person have? What was their major? How does their major relate to their career?

Employment: What was the person's first job? What path did the person's career take? Did the person work their way up through the ranks at the same company? Did they have success at a previous employer that they seek to repeat? Can you get a sense of their management style from the previous positions the person has held?

Career Highlights: What are noted successes the person has acheived? Are there any negative incidents? Can you see any trends in the person's behavior? What is the person doing in their current position?

Personal Information: Is the person married? Do they have children? Are they passionate about any hobbies or charities? Does the person strongly support any causes?

Personality: Is the person ambitious, a workaholic, or stubborn? Is the person supportive, people-oriented, or respected by employees?

Management Style: Is the person's management style visionary or autocratic? For more information on management styles, see:

On the Web

Articles, interviews, videos, and blogs may also help you with this assignment. Remember to evaluate any websites that you are using to make sure that the information is correct. Obviously a site like may be biased. If you have any doubts, see if you can verify the information elsewhere.

Where to Look For Biographical Information

Company websites often provide biographical information of key employees. You may need to go to the For Investors or Investors Relations section of the site. Look for a link on the bottom of the website. You may find other helpful information for this course there. 

Social media sites like Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. The person you are researching may have a public profile and list where they went to school, what degree they earned, their job history, hobbies & causes they are interested in, and more.

News is available from a variety of places. Try national newspapers like the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times. Trade journals may also provide industry specific information. Remember, some of this material will only be available through a subscription. Don't forget to check the library databases for subscription resources. Check college newspapers, if available, if you know where they went to school. If you know where they grew up, check local newpaper sites.

YouTube or other video sharing sites. Presentations made by the person you are researching might give you insight into their personalities and management philosophies.


  • Don't forget to take name variations into account. Does the person go by Bill or William? Do they commonly use their middle initial? 
  • When searching for a proper name, try putting the name in quotes. This tells the search engine that you are searching for an exact phrase rather than two separate words. For example, try searching for - tim cook, "tim cook",  timothy D. cook, and "timothy D. Cook" and note the differences in the results returned. Remember that you wouldn't want to include the middle initial within quotes if the person doesn't use it consistently.

See Google: Inside Search: Operators and More Search Help for more information and other search tips.


Jennifer DeVito
Frank Melville Jr. Memorial Library
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY 11794-3300
Website / Blog Page