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What should I expect in a Big 4 written case for an M&A operations integration/separation role?

Mergers&Acquisitions Post-Merger Integration writtencase
New answer on Mar 31, 2024
5 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 29, 2024

I have a written case coming up shortly. I have 1 hour to analyze the data and then one hour to present/Q&A. they have provided very little information. Someone on the team recommended practicing “market sizing“ questions to prepare for the quant section. How would you structure the presentation for an operations integration/separation case?

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Ian
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 29, 2024
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

I wouldn't practice market sizing questions - it's much more complicated than that.

I actually have 30+ written cases (including many from Big4). Feel free to message for support.

What I generally do with my candidates is, give them a few real written case x hours before our scheduled session. In session we then review + work through the cases (getting that mindset shift on how to optimally parse through all the info and create an optimal presentation)

===================WHAT TO EXPECT============

Scenario A: A Prompt with no additional info

Scenario B (most common): A Prompt with way too much information (20+ charts/exhibits)

Scenario C: A prompt with supporting excel sheet/data that you need to parse + create charts/exhibits with

Scenario D (least common): A prompt with the exact data/info/charts you need (every exhibit/chart matters)

=======HOW TO DO WELL========

While each scenario requires a different approach, the fundamentals are the same.

  1. Remember that most casing tips apply here (i.e. be very clear+focused on the objective, ruthlessly cut out information that doesn't help you meet this objective/question, get your story right, make sure to think + communicate in a structured way, etc. etc.)
  2. Practice/simulate this as much as possible beforehand...getting a coach to help you run through scenarios + how to react in inevitably challenging moments will do a world of good.

 

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Francesco
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replied on Jan 29, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Q: How would you structure the presentation for an operations integration/separation case?

As you shared, normally these assessments involve (i) some time to review the material they send and prepare a presentation and (ii) some time to present your findings.

For part (i), I would recommend the following.

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1. Prepare in advance with other written cases

You should be able to find a few written cases online to use for your self-prep. Ideally, the cases should include:

  1. Graph interpretation
  2. Math calculation
  3. The amount of information you expect for your interview (if unknown, I would target at least 10-20 slides/pages)

2. Define an action plan to analyze the material

If you have 60 minutes to review the material, a possible approach is the following (to adapt based on the amount of information and questions):

  • 3 min – Read the questions
  • 10-15min – Read the material
  • 5-10 min – Structure the approach
  • 25-30 min – Perform math/ Identify answers/ Create slides
  • 5 – Final review

3. Have a strategy to present your results

To present your findings in the second part, I would suggest the same structure used for a conclusion in a live interview, that is:

  1. Summarize the main questions you have to answer
  2. Present your proposed answers and detail the motivation behind
  3. Present risks and next steps for the areas you have not covered

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If you have to prepare slides in part (ii), I would recommend taking into account the following:

A) Structure of the presentation

Normally the structure for a 5-slide presentation is the following:

  • 1st slide – summary of the questions and your answers
  • 2nd, 3rd and 4th slides - supporting arguments for the first slide
  • 5th slide - risks and next steps

B) Content of each slide

There are 3 basic components for most slides:

  1. Title
  2. Written content 
  3. Graphs / Tables

Many candidates structure the title as a mere description of what the chart/content is about.

A great title instead shows the implication of the graph/content as well.

Example: say a graph is showing a cost structure for a division.

  • A bad title would be: “Cost structure from 2005 to 2015”.
  • A good title would be: “Cost structure of Division XYZ is not sustainable”.
  • A great title would be “Cost structure of Division XYZ is not sustainable due to ABC”, assuming you have insights on that.

The rule of thumb is that if you read all the titles of the slides, you should get a clear idea of the message of the presentation.

C) Present the slides

When you present, I would recommend the following steps for each slide:

  1. Introduce the slide: “Let’s move to slide 2, which will show us why we have an issue with this division
  2. Present the main message of the slide: “As you can see, we have a cost structure that makes it unfeasible to be competitive in this market
  3. Provide details: “The graph, indeed, shows how our fixed cost is XYZ, while competitors can benefit from economies of scale. Indeed…

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If you want to prepare further, I do a session covering all the points above and written case material as well. For more information please feel free to PM me.

Good luck!

Francesco

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Florian
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replied on Jan 29, 2024
1300 5-star reviews across platftorms | 500+ offers | Highest-rated case book on Amazon | Uni lecturer in US, Asia, EU

Hey there,

For the written case practice I'd recommend you to look at regular case interview samples (there is a ton here on PL) and then work through them on your own. Look at the prompt and core question you are trying to solve, then look at the data provided and work on your recommendation.

Follow these rules:

#1 Already have a plan when you go in for the written case

Since time is usually limited, you should have a plan on how long you want to spend on each task of the assignment beforehand. For practice, use 20 minutes for the analysis and 5 minutes for the recommendation communication. For the real case adapt accordingly based on the time budget provided.

#2 Focus – quickly separate crucial information from the noise

Written cases usually present you with an information overload that you need to sort out

#3 Graphs and charts – interpret and distill key insights from graphs and charts

Written cases bombard you with charts, graphs, tables, and other visual depictions of data that you should use to test your hypotheses. Learn how to quickly read and interpret them

#4 Math – quickly draft equations and conduct pen-and-paper math

Get into the habit of quickly setting up and simplifying calculations

#5 Storyline – draft a compelling storyline and tell it with visually appealing outputs

Create a top-down storyline of your recommendations. State your primary recommendation, then use supporting arguments to strengthen your position

#6 Presentation and defense – communicate and defend your recommendation top-down

If you have to present your findings at the end of the case, follow the top-down approach of your slide deck. Be confident and engaging when going through your recommendation and supporting arguments.

All the best!

Cheers,

Florian

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 29, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there!

I'm happy to share an example of a written case so you have a better understanding of how they go.

Regarding how to specifically structure presentations for operations integration/separation cases, there is no one way (sorry). Instead, I recommend that you practice regular cases and see how those are solved and what are the topics that are most often discussed. 

The way I work with candidates who prepare for written cases is that I send you two cases upfront to prepare, and then within the course of one session, you present both cases, and you get feedback on both content and delivery. 

Best,
Cristian

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Mar 31, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

You have to:

  1. Prepare some written cases (I have a good example from a Big4)
  2. Prepare cases related to estimating synergies and de-synergies. Growth cases are useful as well.
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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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