Coles College a leading provider of M&A executive education

Kennesaw State’s Mergers & Acquisitions Academy continues in fall 2012 As mergers and…

Georgia (Aug 31, 2012)Kennesaw State’s Mergers & Acquisitions Academy continues in fall 2012

As mergers and acquisitions heat up, the Coles College of Business emerges as leader in M&A executive education

At a recent program held at the KSU Center, former CEOs of privately held businesses shared their stories of how they went about selling their companies. An investment banker who has worked on dozens of M&A transactions also shared best practices in selling businesses and recounted stories of what can go wrong.

“People can blow deals by saying things that are off the wall,” said Jonathan Wilfong, an investment banker with four decades of experience in mergers and acquisitions. “Up until the last minute, rarely is there a greater than 50-50 chance of a deal going as planned.”

The 44 participants at the session were attending the first M&A Academy certification program, a new executive education program tailored by Kennesaw State’s Michael J. Coles College of Business in response to demand in the Atlanta market for mid-career education on mergers and acquisitions. The participants included executives from a variety of public and private companies. The program –– a total of six daylong sessions over several months –– featured a host of prominent lawyers, accountants and bankers who specialize in mergers and acquisitions, as well as professors from the Coles College.

Demand for executive education on mergers and acquisitions has been strong since the M&A Academy was launched in the spring; a second program will start in November.

“Atlanta is at the center of mergers and acquisitions activity in the Southeast,” said Mike Salvador, director of executive education programs at the Coles College. “Given how Atlanta supports M&A-related activity throughout the Southeast, we are seeing solid demand for our program. As far as we know, no other university in the Southeast offers a similar program.”

Competitive forces in the global economy have made mergers and acquisitions an essential element in corporations’ strategies to grow and maximize shareholder value, Salvador explained. “The growing arsenal of cash on corporate balance sheets and in private equity funds today will fuel substantial M&A opportunities for years to come,” he said.

The M&A Academy is part of the Coles College’s efforts to meet the needs of the business community by offering specialized programs for their managers and executives. In addition to open enrollment programs in managerial coaching and leadership for women professionals, the Coles College has also developed customized programs for companies, such as a Physicians Leadership Academy for a large local health care system and a negotiations skills training program for a multinational insurance company.

“Our vision is to help enable organizations and their work forces succeed in achieving their goals, so being prepared to customize solutions for our business community constituents is paramount to the Coles College,” said Salvador. “Our mid-career educational services can be tailored to the unique needs of any company or organization.”

The M&A Academy consists of six separate modules on a series of topics related to the lifecycle of an M&A transaction, Salvador explained. These modules cover M&A strategy; transaction valuation and validation; deal structuring and negotiation; financing; post-deal business integration; and exit strategy.

“As chief financial officer of a middle-market company, I found the Coles College M&A Academy to be very helpful in understanding how to navigate through the complexities of the acquisition process,” said participant Harry Dinham of Traton Corporation. “Regardless of whether you are trying to grow a business through acquisition or are considering a divestiture, the Academy provides real insight into the M&A process and the way M&A professionals work. That in and of itself is worth the price of admission.”

Academy faculty included Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers partners; corporate lawyers from King & Spalding; investment bankers from ING Capital; partners from private equity firms; top M&A executives for UPS, The Coca-Cola Co. and GE Energy; and even a retired senior FBI agent who specialized in negotiation tactics.

“The Coles M&A Academy’s certification program provides participants with the analytical and business tools needed to lead their organizations through successful acquisitions, from strategy development and implementation to valuation, diligence, financial planning and post-deal integration,” Salvador said.


For more information on the fall 2012 M&A Academy, please go to:




A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit