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Friday, April 12, 2013

Case Study Approach in Advanced Corporate Finance 04-13


Case Study Approach in Advanced Corporate Finance


Associate professor in the Wisconsin School of Business, Prof. James K. Seward, was on campus to coach the MBA participants on applying the corporate finance and accounting knowledge they had acquired in previous classes through his course on Advanced Corporate Finance. A highly interactive case study method added to the learning experience.


James Seward
James Seward
The advanced finance course was carefully formulated to fine-tune the skills of the MBA participants on Capital budgeting and Capital Expenditure Approval Processes, Investment Decisions, and Methods of Valuation. 

Case studies formed the base of Professor James Seward’s course; real life examples and well timed, appropriate humor by the Professor kept the class engaged. As part of their assignments, MBA participants discussed three different cases in groups and prepared a memorandum for each case. After submission of each memorandum, Professor Seward discussed the case in the class effectively compiling the knowledge and analysis of the MBA participants from 32 different countries. His extensive experience in advising corporate companies to make financial decisions, along with teaching, enables him to provide an insight into the corporate finance world. This makes his students appreciate the importance of corporate finance knowledge. 

The first part of the course was spent on “Working Capital Management”, and a case on Dell provided a perfect platform to understand the topic. 

The mid part of the course focused on “Investment Decisions as real options”. There could not have been any better way than studying the DuPont case to understand the subject. This case is a classic example of a dilemma that corporates face – which strategy to adopt out of the available options. DuPont had three strategies to choose from, and the MBA participants’ job was to recommend which one to choose. The student diversity of EDHEC MBA, not only in terms of nationalities but also in terms of work experience, helps participants to make profound recommendations by challenging each others assumptions and sharing knowledge acquired during their past work experience. 

The final part of the course was to understand the multiple methods of valuation through the Interco case. In this case, the MBA participants had to recommend whether to sell the company at the price offered. The recommendation made by participants varied, and it was interesting to see how different assumptions lead to different proposals. 

The course was intense. Many participants ended up working late evenings on group assignments, but the learning experience was immense. The course wrapped up with a big applause for the Professor James Seward for his excellent course on Advanced Finance. When asked about the course, Ilias Lappas, who is an aeronautical engineer at the Ministry of Defense in Greece, commented “Advanced Finance was a very interesting and hands-on lecture since most of the teaching was about analyzing real-life business cases. It was after reflecting about the learning experience of this lecture to realize that no matter what my function will be in my next working environment, I need to have a sound understanding of managerial finance and its implications. Built on the finance lecture we had last January, it enabled us to develop critical thinking and managerial judgment which will be of invaluable help in our development as leaders of tomorrow's society. Last but not least, I think that the effectiveness of case-based learning can be summarized in the following saying: Smart people learn from their mistakes, wise ones learn from the mistakes of others.”

Written by Sampatkumar Bommayya