Pioneering the cross-enterprise approach with M&A

Professor Paul Beamish of Ivey explores the innovative, entire enterprise approach of the new FirstCaribbean International Bank case series.

Alt textParticipants in MBA and executive programmes frequently report how effective and enjoyable they find learning with cases. Nevertheless, they are also known to criticise the method, for not allowing sufficient depth of study of any one organisation. Though faculty ensure their students acquire a comprehensive knowledge of management at business school, this breadth tends to be achieved by looking at cases of many organisations rather than focusing on just one company or business event, which, more closely, mirrors the real life experience of management. The new FirstCaribbean International Bank case series, produced by the University of the West Indies (UWI) in collaboration with Richard Ivey School of Business, The University of Western Ontario (Ivey), does that.

FirstCaribbean Bank is a seven - soon to be eight - part, field-researched case series dealing with the merger and integration of the Caribbean operation of Barclays Bank Plc and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. The cases deal, respectively, with the strategy and finance perspective (should the merger proceed and how to value it), industry context (an industry note on banking in the region) and with how to combine the operations from a human resources, accounting, MIS, marketing and operations (to follow) perspective. Full teaching notes for every case are available and a video of interviews with key protagonists is in progress. Each case is designed to be taught either on a full-class stand-alone basis, or in combination with any, or all, of the other cases and items in the series. The cases, which include plentiful exhibits, are consciously focused, to the point and not too long, in keeping with Ivey’s case writing philosophy, which recognises the time pressures business school participants face.

The FirstCaribbean series is an illustration of Ivey’s new action-oriented strategy, which focuses on Cross-Enterprise Leadership™. It is designed to prepare high-performing students to approach issues from a perspective that spans the whole of an organisation and aims to give them an ability to ‘get things done’ while gaining an advanced understanding of the ramifications of their decisions and actions. According to Paul Beamish, editor of the FirstCaribbean series and Director of Ivey Publishing, “Cross-Enterprise Leadership™ helps students understand the impact of economic trends, competitive challenges and global-scale market issues on an organisation.

They learn to capitalise on the opportunities and synergies that result from seeing the big picture. One effective way of getting students to understand the big picture is for them to better recognise the interconnectedness of their recommendations and actions on other parts of the same business.” But, currently, there is no choice in co-ordinated case materials based around a single business or occurrence, designed to achieve this ambitious teaching objective. Paul Beamish sees the benefits of the subject matter of FirstCaribbean and believes the case series to be a first. “An interrelated, comprehensive case series, focused on a phenomenon as important and enduring as M&A, offers an ideal cross-enterprise approach. I am not aware of any other eight, stand-alone cases that do this yet, but I encourage other colleagues and institutions to start developing this kind of material because it is uniquely effective.”

Case authorsHowever, writing and pulling together such an ambitious case series requires exceptional levels of time, resources and much goodwill from both case writers and the subject organisation. Paul Beamish is aware of the important role good fortune and contacts have to play in the process. “Developing this case series was an unprecedented opportunity. We were very fortunate. Co-ordinating a team of more than twelve case co-authors and faculty from three countries and gaining the not insignificant time input of senior FirstCaribbean executives, at a busy time in their corporate lives, was no mean feat. Having the right series of relationships was absolutely critical to the project.” He acknowledges the crucial role played by Betty Jane Punnett, a native of St Vincent and professor at UWI, in initiating the case series. While faculty are, famously, not always eager to prioritise complicated collaborative projects, he also praises the consummate professionalism and commitment to the venture of his project colleagues at UWI and Ivey.

Hugely helpful was also the fact that Michael Mansoor, the Chairman of FirstCaribbean, is an Ivey graduate and was very supportive, both with time and resources. He understood the objective of cases as teaching materials, and did not fear any negative impact on the bank. Indeed, the project fitted the corporate citizenship objectives of the newly formed bank. At an early stage, it had decided that it wished to give back something tangible to the local Caribbean community and decided to sponsor the development of the cases, to be used, free of charge, in classes on the three campuses (Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica) of the University of the West Indies. Helpfully, the bank assigned a central point of contact to be responsible for all case releases. However, in a series of this magnitude, processing case drafts did represent a considerable time commitment for this, already busy person. Paul Beamish urges case writers considering such a venture not to underestimate the time and communication required on the part of those with co-ordinating responsibilities. Managing the funding of such an ambitious project is time consuming in its own right and requires the full understanding of university authorities.

What advice does Paul Beamish have for case teachers wishing to use part, or all, of the case series? In his view, it is ideal for all types of executive and MBA programmes. “It does require a bit of co-ordination with one’s colleagues,” he suggests, “but it is worth the investment of time. Ideally, the strategy, finance and industry overview cases, which deal with the questions of whether the merger should take place, ought to be scheduled before the MIS, marketing, accounting, HRM and operations (soon to be published) cases, which deal with specific, functional integration issues.” When asked about his own experience of teaching FirstCaribbean Bank, Paul Beamish is unequivocal. “The case series was very well received by our students because it enabled them to go into real depth. We work on the Kaizen principle at Ivey and are continually improving our approach to teaching these and all other cases. I’ve been teaching with cases for well over twenty years and you know when something works. This works.” 

Cases

FirstCaribbean Bank Cross-Enterprise Case Series
The University of the West Indies and Richard Ivey School of Business

CIBC-Barclays: Should their Caribbean Operations be Merged?
Don Wood and Paul M Beamish
Ref 9B04M067

Harmonization of Compensation and Benefits for FirstCaribbean International Bank
Edward Corbin and Betty Jane Punnett
Ref 9B04C053

Information Systems at FirstCaribbean: Choosing a Standard Operating Environment
Louis Beaubien and Sonia Mahon
Ref 9B04E032

CIBC-Barclays: Accounting for their Merger
Archibald A A Campbell and Noel Reynolds
Ref 9B04B022

Note on Banking in the Caribbean
Don Wood
Ref 9B05M015

FirstCaribbean International Bank: The Marketing & Branding Challenges of a Start-up
Gavin Chen and Derrick Deslandes
Ref 9B05A012

FirstCaribbean: The Proposed Merger
Stephen Sapp
Ref 9B06N004

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