A Career In Corporate Finance Can Lead To Very Different Horizons: Stephane Haddad

Stephane Haddad, Senior Lecturer, Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne talks to BW Education about the scope of Corporate Finance course and EHL's offerings.

Tell us something about Corporate Finance course that EHL offers?

At EHL, the corporate finance course aims to equip students with an overall understanding of the financial issues they are likely to tackle later when they become company managers. This is complementary to other finance-related courses delivered during their studies, including accounting and financial analysis, as well as real estate finance. In addition, we offer Bachelor students who have a keen interest on finance elective courses which enable them to gain a deeper knowledge of specific topics which form part of the corporate finance theme, such as mergers and acquisitions for example. EHL’s corporate finance course, as all other finance-related courses, is focused on the hospitality sector, including hotels, restaurants, airlines, casinos and new technology-based companies.

What could be the possible career opportunities that students can explore after completing a course in Corporate Finance?

At the end of their studies at EHL, students who wish to move into corporate finance can join a hospitality consulting firm (e.g. HVS or Horwath HTL, two reputed firms which offer valuation services to hotel owners and investors) or a generalist one (e.g. KPMG, PWC). Alternatively, they may wish to join a hotel operator to work on development opportunities or a hotel owner to work on new hotel acquisitions.

How is Corporate Finance is different from Investment Banking?

Corporate finance covers topics which impact companies in their operations and long-term strategy. These include for example how to analyze growth opportunities and make investment decisions, how to optimize a company’s funding sources by making the right decisions between debt and equity or how to best manage inventory, debtors and creditors to minimize working capital. These subjects are at the core of corporate managers daily decisions. Investment banking on the other side relates mainly to advisory services provided by banks for their corporate customers, with regard to raising equity or debt capital or assisting them with mergers and acquisitions. Investment bankers act as consultants to their clients which include industrial and service-based companies as well as financial investors.

What are the skills that students must possess to explore his /her career in corporate financing and where all one can look for a job?

Students interested to work in corporate finance, either for a company, a consulting firm or an investment bank need to have strong analytical skills to start with, including an ability to analyze a company’s financial statements. In addition, strong Excel skills are required as entry-level professionals will be required to build financial models. However, analytical skills are required but not sufficient to be successful, students interested to embrace such a career need to be curious and demonstrate an interest for the overall economy, financial markets and company’s business models. Finally, the ability to work under pressure and develop attention to details are key success factors.

Keeping corporate finance in the global world in mind: What are the possible challenges and opportunities that students can witness in this sector?

A career in corporate finance can lead to very different horizons, after a few years of initial professional experience, some will develop their own entrepreneurial ventures while others will continue in the corporate world, moving through the ranks to senior executive positions. One of the challenges faced relate to the cyclicality of the sector, which is often linked to the evolution of financial markets and the broader economy.

Who all can apply for this Corporate Finance course and what is the admission criteria?

At the Bachelor level, the corporate finance course is an integral part of the compulsory curriculum that all students go through. There are no specific requirements to attend it, beyond that of admission into the programme. We also offer corporate finance courses in all our Master’s programme and as a course certificate to professionals in our Digital MBA. To be able to take the course certificate, students must have an existing understanding of accounting and financial analysis and be able to use Excel comfortably.

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