To help students explore why a company should be taken over rather than looking for a quick fix solution, the MSc in Strategy & Consulting features a module dedicated to Due Diligence. By focusing on the tools of the trade, understanding the nature of the market, and the techniques for performing a diagnostic, students gain insight into the strategic process of injecting new life into an existing business.

Due Diligence is not a profession as such, more a position or function, a type of consulting project that involves understanding not just the company in question but also the market”, begins Dr. Benoît Chevalier-Roignant, leader of the module held over September to December at emlyon as part of its MSc in Strategy & Consulting. *“We place particular emphasis on commercial due diligence and the strategic dimension to conducting a thorough analysis of a company with a view to a potential takeover”. In contrast with the concept of Due Care, whereby an immediate solution is sought, Due Diligence involves a detailed and considered analysis of why* a problem should be resolved. Having students get to grips with the tools of this specific trade and the strategic thinking required is crucial.

Learning the ropes

For most students of the program, Due Diligence is a difficult and new concept, requiring the expertise of emlyon faculty, visiting professors and external contributors from the business world help them learn the ropes. “I come from an engineering and project management background, having worked in a CAC40 French railway company,” begins student Nipun Abbi. “With no prior experience of Due Diligence, I was especially grateful for the overview the course gave, providing us with knowledge of the typical casework in these types of projects, including structuring due diligence reports.” Throughout the students are shown how to perform data research, acquire analytical and interview skills, and filter the data collected with a view to compiling a final strategic report and presentation. Just as they will in the field later down the line.

Guidance and input

The expert guidance and input of teachers is vital to the learning process, as observes student Ariane Cavayé: “the standout features were the teacher and the practical dimension. The teacher had significant experience in the field and exhibited a strong pedagogical sense. The class was mainly about accomplishing due diligence for a company chosen from an extensive list and therefore practicing what we had learned. This allowed us to be more involved in the class”. Nipun echoes this sentiment. His case focussed on performing due diligence for a Swedish Fintec company, deploying theoretical notions about market and competitive landscape analysis. The complexity of the issue was alleviated by the expertise of those running operations, in his opinion: “the course was undoubtedly the best delivered and structured of the first trimester. The external instructor used her significant experience (including managing various commercial due diligence projects) to assist us in structuring our report. She and the professor were excellent, dynamic speakers who succeeded in making a difficult subject exciting”.

Real, transferrable skills

In line with all emlyon courses and programs, testing the relevance of the training to the professional world that awaits the students is key to its success. For Dr. Benoît Chevalier-Roignant, providing students with tools and skills that can be applied in real-life professional situations is essential: strategic diligence is crucial to publishing an accurate analysis of the health of a company, in view of an eventual takeover. This is why we attach so much importance within the module to practicing, quantifying, and writing up a report and not just the theories behind such an exercise”. By exposing students to new industries and topical issues while they compile their recommendations and reports, the module seeks to offer training and hone transferrable skills of the highest relevance to the actual due diligence they may perform in working life.

An expert opinion

Following this practically minded rationale, all students present their findings in front of a fictitious Executive Committee including experts from the field. One member of this panel was Jocelyn Micoulet, an emlyon alumnus and now Associate Director at Bredhill Consulting: “being part of the due deal final jury meant I could bring my experience as a consultant to the table and see how millennials perceive the business world they evolve in. The students, have to mobilize many business competencies as the course is akin to a broad case study where they have to apply everything they have learned at school so far (from corporate strategy and finance to strategic marketing and pricing) on top of the proper due diligence method.