INSEAD Participant Interview

International Corporate Finance Training

Antoine Tohmé

Past participant of the Advanced International Corporate Finance programme
CFO - Directeur Administratif et Financier Moyen Orient
Gerflor
January 2014

"I would recommend the programme as it gives a complete view of international finance. The topics are easily, and clearly, explained by good professors who are very welcoming." Antoine Tohmé talks about his experience on the Advanced International Corporate Finance programme.

Can you please introduce yourself?

I work as CFO - Directeur Administratif & Financier Middle East for Gerflor in Saudi Arabia. Prior to this I was Internal Control Manager for Publicis Worldwide in Paris, held a CFO role and also worked in audit with KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.                                            

I majored in finance at university and also studied business at EM Business School in Lyon. In addition, I spent some time at Rotterdam Business School, where I did an exchange programme in finance and have recently attended McGill University in Montreal where I completed an Executive Education programme in strategy.

You have a lot of financial experience. Did the programme challenge you?

What is on the CV, on paper, is one thing and yes it helps when it comes to understanding the topics spoken about during the programme. However, what you learn from the professors while on Advanced International Corporate Finance is something else. Real business cases can be very different to the theory and to the day-to-day operations. This part was challenging because it meant revisiting and refreshing your knowledge. What is also challenging is the fact that it is a programme which covers many diverse topics. You often had to go back to the essentials of financial theory to understand them all.

Why did you decide to come on the Advanced International Corporate Finance programme?

I was looking to refresh my financial knowledge and wanted to do that through professional learning. I am also preparing for a possible career change. I needed to focus on my knowledge and adopt the new terminologies and use them on a daily basis. We covered many of these during the programme as well as highly interesting topics such as corporate valuation, project valuation, takeover defences and other tactical issues in M&A.

It was important to have a good understanding of all these topics in order to demonstrate this knowledge within my upcoming roles.

Do you think that the programme has given you more confidence?

Yes, though this really came towards the end of the programme. I had heard from a previous participant that the programme was dense. It was indeed challenging. However, at the end of the week, all themes became clearer. At that moment, I felt more self-confident and ready for new challenges.

What kind of expectations did you have?

I was expecting a first class education which would give me fresh information and ideas on many financial topics. I was also expecting to get specific examples of how the theory can be put into practice. I wanted to cover problems and challenges companies face and how they overcame them.                                

I was also expecting to do a lot of international networking.

Do you feel you came away with new ideas and knowledge?

Definitely. I certainly increased my knowledge of financial topics, especially on the technical and theory side of things.

What were some of your key takeaways?

There were many. The ones that stand out are gaining information on the financial strategies of corporations worldwide.       

I was also able to gain information on many aspects of the financial markets, such as launching companies (IPO), merging or acquiring or even delisting, as well as, financing and hedging strategies for companies and international projects. This was particularly relevant as we observed a significant increase of mergers and takeovers on companies in 2013.

Was there a good mix between the theory and the practical?

The programme did incorporate the theory with the practical yes. There were case studies we went through and these helped support the theory, this was one of the programme’s strengths.

All the cases needed lots of preparation as they were very detailed. There were also workshops which also needed work beforehand. I was coming from Paris each day and was up very early each day to go through the cases to be well prepared.

How do you think the programme will help you in your work?

I think that I will be able to better understand my company’s strategy over the past decade.                                     

It will also help me dealing with managerial decisions in my next role and definitively during the upcoming years.

What did you think of the teaching?

The professors were very charismatic. They knew how to be funny but at the same time, had lots of knowledge and were able to go into lots of details and finally deliver clear and precise messages for every topic covered.

What would you say to someone who is thinking of doing the programme?

I would recommend the programme as it gives a complete view of international finance. The topics are easily, and clearly, explained by good professors who are very welcoming. The level of personal attention was always remarkable, with the professors available to answer questions. I would also recommend anticipating significant free time dedicated to preparation prior to the programme.

What did you find to be the most interesting part of the programme?

The most interesting part was a refresh on corporate valuation and optimal capital structure followed by an update on share buybacks on financial markets.

Interested in INSEAD's Advanced International Corporate Finance programme? Have a look at our Advanced International Corporate Finance web pages or contact Mark Hoggarth, the programme advisor, on +33 (0)1 60 72 40 38 or at mark.hoggarth@insead.edu.

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