One of the many positives to have emerged from the overhauling 3 years ago of the emlyon business school MSc in Finance is the International Seminar. The most recent edition brought together the 167 students of the current cohort for a highly US-oriented set of challenges embracing the worlds of corporate and quantitative finance, the gaming industry, freight services, and cryptocurrency. Program Co-Director France Bachelot and one of the winning finalists Anthony Brossard share their views on this multi-faceted challenge.

The MSc in Finance underwent a re-make 3 years ago. What changes were made and how does the International Seminar fit into this new format?

France Bachelot: The MSc in Finance was and still is the largest Specialized Master at emlyon in terms of class size. Back in the days it was divided in many ways, between Lyon for Corporate Finance with classes in French and Paris for Quantitative Finance with classes in English,. Since then, we have merged all aspects to produce a genuinely complementary program with a pronounced international focus, of which the International Seminar is a perfect illustration. 42% of the students are from abroad and of 20+ nationalities and, thanks to the seminars that takes place in January and June, they are exposed to the culture and way of doing business in other parts of the world, the US in the most recent case.

You were one of the winning finalists at the most recent International Seminar. What did the challenge you faced involve?

Anthony Brossard: I was a part of the Corporate Finance track and was involved in the Gaming Industry challenge. Our task was to perform a strategic and financial analysis and give our recommendations and a financing structure to the management of a company active in this sector for a potential acquisition to develop its activities. At various points, the challenge forced me to get out of my comfort zone because we had to quickly appropriate ourselves to the case with my teammates. Therefore, we learned to work within a short amount of time, trying to produce the most professional output as possible, which was no mean feat.

What were the principles behind the seminar and with what objectives in mind?

France Bachelot: We were looking to “destabilize” the students by immersing them into a culture and very US way of doing business that are far removed from what they have grown accustomed to in France. They were broken in via a conference focusing on the impact of COVID-19 on race relations in the US and then thrown into the professional deep end via a team-building game, comprising several trials on various subjects and different countries around the world and last but not least 3 challenges focusing on the worlds of casinos, freight, and cryptocurrency. No longer did they have academic support as back-up – they were confronted with US firms posing very US-oriented business challenges. In so doing, we wanted the seminar to bring together and test everything that the students had learned during the year, provide insight into other approaches to financing business ventures, and provide a learning experience completely in line with the emlyon “earlymakers” ethos.

From a participating student perspective what were the main takeaways from the International Seminar?

Anthony Brossard: For our corporate finance case we wanted to come up with a few financial and strategic recommendations, some of which we had learned and developed in our previous courses during the year. Our success in this challenge was maybe down to the robustness of our team. We clearly understood the industry and the player as well as providing adapted recommendations through a tailor-made financing structure. We gleaned a lot from the analysis of specific industries and the screening of potential companies to acquire. The team spirit developed during this challenge is also something I will take away with me and use in the future.

How did you manage to narrow down such a pool of talent and what benefits do you see for them from this exercise?

France Bachelot: The pressure was on them until the end, to the extent that they all had to prepare to present in front of an adjudicating panel of corporates, academics and fellow students and only knew if they would compete for the final round 30 minutes before. Once the three sponsor companies and students had voted, over to the finalists. The winners received a 1-hour interview with each sponsor company to develop their professional network. On top of that all students received a 115-subject subscription to US Master classes, so a prize geared very much towards expanding their knowledge and professional network. None of this would have been possible without the vital organizational role of the Chile-based Austral Education Group or our valued sponsor companies not forgetting our student cohort who were challenged like never before!