‘The more the differences, the more you learn from each other’

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Nana Asare, Value Creation Services

‘Mergers & Acquisitions, that’s what you should do,’
Nana Asare was told by his teacher at school.
Because, ‘It’s challenging, exciting, there’s a lot of
money involved and it’s international.’ The ambitious
Nana from Amsterdam took the advice and ran with
it. As a Consultant at Deloitte’s Value Creation
Services (VCS) department, he now assists companies
with acquisitions and separations. ‘I do short and
intensive projects so I learn a lot from them.’


A permanent job as a consultant is what Nana had set his sights upon, but the journey
wasn’t without its hurdles. ‘It took me years to get my foot in the door. The reason? Many
people want to get started in M&A. Then employers can select on the perfect resume.
Students like me, with no connections in finance, don’t have that. And so, my applications
for M&A vacancies were often turned down.’


Learning fast
Nana decided to channel his ambitions into another of his passions, the Amsterdam
nightlife scene, organizing events and working as a DJ and MC. ‘But I kept hearing the little
voice in the back of my head: “M&A, that’s what you should do!’’ With the help of a good
friend, I managed to do the internships that would make me stand out and then, finally,
opportunity knocked: the M&A Traineeship at Deloitte. I felt at home from day one and
worked at several different departments to see as much as possible. The focus was on
me and how I could get the best out of my traineeship. I liked the VCS activities the best so
that became my first choice. When I was offered a job there, it felt like a dream come true.’
Nana and his colleagues at VCS add value in the whole lifecycle of companies. ‘If they want
to expand through an acquisition, for instance, or restructure the organization, or sell a
division by carve-out, we perform commercial due diligence to investigate the market
potential: Is the company worth taking over? We analyze business plans and targets and test
hypotheses. We offer IT due diligence, too: is a company’s IT infrastructure in order, or are
there skeletons in the closet? It’s also nice that we advise on new strategies and ambitions,
such as sustainability. Our ESG due diligence services are growing rapidly. Often the
assignments are short but very demanding, so I learn a lot very quickly.’


More diversity, one step at a time
The hurdles Nana encountered en route to the consultancy trade got him thinking. The
culture of the financial sector is rather homogenous; what it needs is more diversity. ‘The
more the differences in a department, the more you learn from each other. I found out that
Deloitte has its own Cultural Diversity Network, so I immediately got involved. We promote
diversity though all kinds of initiatives, big and small. A great example is our Reverse
Mentoring Programme, in which the younger generation at Deloitte teaches the elder about
things like cultural differences, gender and sexual identity; the boomers are the mentees!
It’s the kind of change that occurs one step at a time, but I’m patient. And it’s high on the
agenda of our top management, as I noticed at an event during which I interviewed our CEO
Hans Honing about diversity in the workplace.’


Nana’s strategy for personal development is to learn from his colleagues and work on as
many different projects as possible. ‘I don’t really have a set plan about what I want to
achieve. For now, the objective is simply to become a very good all-round M&A-specialist.
There’s so much knowledge in this team, especially among the senior managers and four
partners, each with their own expertise.’ To learn even more, Nana attended the VCS Upside
Academy, an interactive week during which young Deloitte colleagues from across Europe
are brought together to tackle a number of educational M&A cases.


Deadlines and get-togethers
Well, is M&A everything it was made out to be? ‘Absolutely,’ enthuses Nana. ‘It’s exceeded
my expectations in every respect. But I have learned that no project will ever tick all the
boxes. I’m currently working on a carve-out assignment for an energy company in
Eemshaven, for instance, way up in the north of the country. It’s a super interesting project
and there’s a lot of money involved, but I did have to turn down an opportunity in Mexico
because I was tied up. That was quite a pity, but who knows where the next assignment will
take me!’


Hard work and lots of play, and that’s just how Nana likes it. ‘Tight deadlines really bring out
the best in me. And our great team. The atmosphere is very relaxed, we’re not obliged to
wear a suit and the relationship with partners is pleasantly informal. We have lots of social
events like dinner parties and after-work drinks. Sometimes at a partner’s house, even. And
again, there’s no obligation, it’s up to you whether you want to join. It’s that kind of flexibility
that makes Deloitte the perfect place for people with passions outside of work. Like amateur
or professional sports. Or doing weekend gigs as a DJ and MC – I won’t be giving that up for a
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