Immersion Learning

The Next Level

by Branko Slavko Rodic, MBA ‘15 (6/10/14)
Branko Slavko Rodic, MBA ‘15“Your pitch can be any type of a capital markets deal or a leveraged buyout. No limitations on the industry. There are a couple of key points you need to address. Use everything you learned so far and come up with an idea” - in a nutshell, this was all the guidance our Investment Banking Immersion (IBI) team received for the final case. To better illustrate the challenge, imagine coming up with a strategy and tactics for a basketball game, with your teammates (each with a total of five games under their belt) but without a coach or a playbook.

Clean sheet inspired all of us to try to come up with strategic solutions for a variety of companies ranging from a small, fast-growing oil and gas startup and an international tire manufacturer to some of the blue-chip names in the mature phase of a lifecycle, such as Kohl’s and Target. As with any clean sheet, going back to square one quite a few times before coming up with an idea that seems solid from all angles is guaranteed. Once the teams agreed on an idea, the rest seemed like a familiar path. In the end, some of the teams focused on issuing debt under favorable conditions in order to come up with much needed cash and solve unexpected problems with the national wholesaler. Others tried to make a compelling case for a financial sponsor to acquire, current shareholders to sell and investment banks to provide financing for leveraged buyouts of multiple businesses. Variety of ideas reflects variety of interests as well as variety of skills within the IBI team. Presentation day was a unique opportunity for some of us to learn about price considerations on the global rubber market or newest developments in the fracking business in Texas.

As always, it is useful to think about key learning points from the case. First, a good pitch is not the most creative or complex one, but the one that makes sense within 45 seconds. A good pitch offers practical, clear and concise solution to the challenges the executive board of our client ponders while having their morning cup of coffee. Second, in order to come up with a good pitch, profound understanding of our client’s business (how it makes money and what risks involved) and its environment is absolutely vital. A lot of listening, reading and analyzing should come before any creative thinking. There is no value in being creative about the wrong thing. Third, execution of the pitch must be flawless. Every number and every word in the pitch book needs to be bulletproof. The moment we stumble to explain or substantiate something by the facts, a question mark looms above everything else in the pitch book. Once we need to defend our credibility, we don’t have one anymore.

One would think that a team of inexperienced players stands no chance to win a game, especially when the responsibility entails creating the plan and executing it. Nonetheless, we grew as a team and we managed to reach the next level. It feels like winning.