INSEAD Participant Interview
M&As and Corporate Strategy Programme
Oliver Dultz talks about his experience and how the programme confirmed that his company is on the right path.
"The combination of strategy and M&A was very unique. The programme is very international, very intense and well organised. It was a great opportunity to reflect on my organisations' challenges in a more academic way."
Can you please introduce yourself?
I am currently the Head of the International Corporate Finance and M&A department of BLG LOGISTICS GROUP AG & Co. KG. BLG as a Mittelstand company is essentially a medium-sized company. So having a dedicated team managing Corporate Finance and especially M&A is considered quite a luxury.
I have been with the company for 15 years and been mainly focused on Mergers and Acquisitions. I manage a team of six and we are directly responsible for the financial matters of our affiliates and joint ventures in 19 international markets from neighbouring Poland to far-away countries such as Brazil and China. My team is tasked to control, govern, advise and develop all our joint venture corporations and affiliates. Also, we manage the overall M&A process from strategy development to due diligence to valuation to signing to PMI.
What were the challenges in your current organisation which led you to attend this programme?
There were recent changes in the composition of our Board of Management and we've realised that the company has traditionally been rather less strategy-driven. At this point, we saw the need for a more structured approach to M&A and that is what we have been trying to accomplish for the past two years. I was searching for a programme which combines strategy and M&A and that is how I came across this INSEAD programme.
Given the dispersed nature and size of your company's overseas market, what were you main growth strategy considerations?
The biggest operation we have overseas is about 2000 people but many of them are really smaller organisations. We have different stages of development depending on the size of the organisations - some are very small, very young, more like a start-up and others are 10-15 years old and more stable. The market is very heterogenic. Because of this, the challenges are quite unique per market as we try to follow our customers in line with our three business units - container, contract and automobile logistics. We are making an effort to develop a service network and observe our customers as we continuously search for opportunities by also looking at different industries.
What were some of your key takeaways from the programme?
This programme confirmed that my company is on the right path. Sometimes you think that you are on the right path but it is always good to get confirmation from the academic field and participants from other industries that they have a similar approach.
I learned that you need to be sure about the strategy first before moving into a growth field. I also learned that M&A is not a strategy by itself and that structure is quite important. I really liked the approach of Professor Laurence Capron on the strategy of combining different growth possibilities - build, borrow or buy. One example is that an organisation needs to have a walk-away price and that you really should be aware of the maximum amount you are paying for in a deal before you step into the negotiation process. I also like the business case on CISCO, an experienced company in terms of integration. The case gives a good overview on aligning the organisation by communicating the strategy and the scope of the integration, including the human resource element, from day one.
Were you able to adapt and implement any of the strategies from the programme in your current role?
I am working in an organisation which was founded in 1877 with quite established structures as such we have been undergoing change management since I joined BLG, but especially for the last two years. We are regularly confronted with scepticism whenever we implement new things so naturally, I have a longer term view. I want to implement things much faster, so I’ve taken many of those key learnings and shared them with my team directly after the programme. It is not something which is written down but it is more of a useful reference on a daily basis.
What do you think of the diversity and networking opportunities during the programme?
It was exactly like what I expected and was a really great experience. We were all from different countries and industries. I like the diversity aspect and since I am working in the same type of environment it was quite helpful. The exchanges and energy of the group was really great.
Would you recommend the programme?
I would recommend this programme to anyone wanting a deeper perspective on M&As plus an understanding that this is not a strategy in itself, but one of several growth opportunities.
This time also enabled me to switch off from work and really focus on the daily challenges in our organisations’ in a much more strategic way.
For more information, follow the link to the programme page INSEAD's M&As and Corporate Strategy Programme.