American Greg Fincke wanted three things from his MBA experience: a one-year program, abroad, in London.
It’s little surprise then that Greg ended up on the full-time MBA at Cass Business School, located in the heart of London’s financial district and ranked in the top 40 business schools globally by the Financial Times.
For Greg (pictured below, right), Cass was the kernel for his career projection from marketing and advertising into mergers and acquisitions (M&A)—in September this year, he was awarded an M&A Advisor Emerging Leader Award for Marketing, Communication, and Business Development for his work at investment banking firm Equiteq.
If it wasn’t for the school, he may never have stumbled across the opportunity.
“I only found the job because it was advertised on the school’s career portal,” he explains, “I wouldn’t have found it on my own. Cass’s brand is strong enough that Equiteq identified them as one of the schools they wanted to hire from. And the proximity of the company to Cass allowed me to go there before and after class.”
After interning for the company over the summer, he became a full employee in September 2014, working as a director of market intelligence and operations. Part of his work was to prove that the company could, and should, expand into the US.
At the time of graduation, his research was at a point where it could be put into practice, thus Greg and the current CEO opened the Equiteq office in New York—the branch now has 18 employees and, says Greg, revenue growth has doubled in that time.
“It’s incredibly positive at the moment,” he adds. “I think the short story is that Equiteq recognized that it was possible to build something from scratch off of our own platform—opportunities like that don’t come along all that often.”
Now, Greg continues to see the value of Cass Business School when it comes to hiring MBAs—with help from his friend and former M&A professor, Scott Moeller.
“I already know the type of education people have received when I’m thinking of hiring from Cass,” Greg explains, “but I’m also able to have an honest conversation with Scott—he can highlight the strengths and weaknesses of certain candidates, what sort of questions they ask in the classroom, and their suitability to Equiteq.”
The two first connected when Scott interviewed Greg on arrival at Cass for his MBA, and a friendship developed from there. Scott, who is a former investment banker for Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank, and now the director of the M&A Research Center (MARC) at Cass, says, because of this, he is able to refer companies and individuals to Greg who he believes fit the model of what Equiteq is trying to achieve.
Scott tries to maintain strong professional relationships with many of his former students—he explains that he tries to ensure more than 50% of the guest lecturers he brings in are graduates of his class.
For example, when teaching the Cadbury-Kraft takeover case he managed to bring in an alumna from financial advisory firm Lazard to discuss the Kraft side of the deal with the students—she now works for Goldman Sachs.
It is this intimate web of connections than ensures Scott’s work for MARC stands out and is constantly kept afloat of current trends.
“It’s the leading MARC in any global business school,” he explains, “in that, it is the only one.”
The center runs an academic conference every year dedicated to mergers and acquisitions—in the past year over 70 academic papers have been submitted for a maximum of seven slots, says Scott.
And with sponsors including Credit Suisse, EY, Willis Towers Watson, and BP, the center is well placed to actively engage with the practitioner community and to connect its students with international M&A figures—the Cass Business School M&A Society is the largest student-led society dedicated to M&A and private equity.
Scott’s career history also means Cass is well placed to exert global influence in the M&A research market. “Not a lot of schools have someone who was an investment banker for 24 years now running an academic research center,” he adds.
“The M&A course includes a lot of war stories and experiences I had as a practitioner. We also actively talk to companies—it’s entirely case study based.”
He admits to running the class without the existence of a single PowerPoint slide. Instead, his students focus on cases such as the Glazer takeover of Manchester United, and Philip Green’s attempts at buying Marks & Spencer—Sir Dominic Cadbury also guest lectured.
“One of the things I try to instill is that you can take lessons from real deals,” explains Scott. “But, most importantly, my relationship with former students is one of the things that keeps my course relevant—it has stopped me from atrophying since I left the industry.”