The Private Equity Playbook

An Investor’s View of the Private Equity Industry and its Drivers for Value Creation

Private equity is a dynamic, growing part of the global economy and an important driver of economic progress. It touches almost every industry, geography and market and affects every business segment in which it competes. Yet many highly experienced professionals do not truly understand what the private equity industry is — how it works, how it changes the competitive landscape, why it can be an asset for growing companies or how it drives business value and generates investor returns.

This program provides practical insights into the private equity industry through the lens of private equity investment professionals. We combine Kellogg faculty members’ cutting-edge thought leadership with the perspective from experienced practitioners to explore key concepts and illustrate how they are put into action to create strategies, differentiation, business value and investor returns.

The curriculum incorporates lectures, breakout sessions, group projects and interactive activities to explore important elements of the private equity industry. The learning experience fosters an understanding of the various segments of the private equity asset class, fund formation, transaction processing, the development and execution of value-creation strategies, the sale process, investor returns and fund economics.

Participants will gain a deep understanding of the concepts learned by applying them via case work and breaking up into teams. The teams will develop an investment strategy; select, analyze and value a company; create a letter of intent and present the opportunity to an investment committee at the program’s conclusion.

Dean Francesca Cornelli speaking

Francesca Cornelli / Dean of the Kellogg School of Management; Donald P. Jacobs Chair in Finance

Who Should Attend

  • Financial, consulting, or operating executives who seek to transition into a role in the private equity industry
  • Business professionals who work for companies that provide services to private equity firms
  • Professionals who provide services to private equity firm employees
  • Business leaders who may want to sell to a private equity firm
  • Business leaders who work for firms that may be acquired by a private equity firm
  • Individuals who would like to move to a mergers and acquisitions role in their organization
  • Mergers and acquisition business development professionals who want to better understand their competitors
  • Professionals who desire to learn about the private industry, how private equity firms operate, how private equity firms create value, and how they generate returns for their investors

Key Benefits

  • Gain a practical view of the private equity industry from a general partner’s perspective
  • Combine cutting-edge academic perspectives with real-world practical experience to learn what private equity really is, how it works, how it affects markets, and how the industry creates value for businesses and investors
  • Explore the life cycle of a private equity firm from fund formation through portfolio company exits
  • Understand how private equity firms and limited partners think about the fundraising process
  • Learn about key fund formation and acquisition documents, important terms, and potential deal killers
  • Gain insights into how private equity firms think about people, processes, systems, and financial leverage as they develop and implement strategies that drive enterprise value
  • Gain important insights and perspectives from private equity CEOs, lenders, limited partners, and Board members
  • How private equity firms think about portfolio construction and management
  • Understand and analyze the quality and sustainability of cash flows
  • Learn about valuation methodologies, and how to evaluate their underlying assumptions
  • Apply key learnings to project work through which you will create investment criteria, review acquisition targets, and work through the steps of an acquisition process from transaction review through investment committee presentation

Program Content

Private Equity as an Asset Class

  • Form a working definition of private equity
  • Strategies and segments under the private equity umbrella
  • Sources of capital for private equity funds
  • Explore how private equity funds work, create business value, and drive investor returns

The Anatomy of a Deal

  • Understand acquisition process
  • Transaction sourcing
  • Acquisition target selection process
  • Due diligence and risk assessment
  • Letters of interest and letters of intent
  • Getting to close

Key Legal Matters

  • Fund structure and key documents
  • Letters of interest and intent
  • Important acquisition documents
  • Asset purchase vs stock purchase
  • Key terms and potential deal killers
  • Avoiding Litigation: “Watch out fors” and pitfalls

Financial Analysis and Valuation

  • Learn common valuation approaches
  • Evaluate risks and risk mitigation strategies
  • Test assumptions to understand and create cash-flow forecasts
  • Determine the optimal bidding range
  • Identify capital structure partners
  • Manage financing relationships

Value Creation Strategies through the M&A Process

  • Creating an investment thesis and value creation strategy
  • Considerations for “buying right”
  • From due diligence to a 100 day plan
  • Develop growth and cost management strategies
  • Maximizing value at exit

Creating Value through Active Ownership

  • Perspectives of a portfolio company CEO
  • Develop organizational alignment strategies
  • Culture as an impediment, and an asset to value creation
  • Drive organizational value through people strategies
  • The role of governance and Boards in value creation

Change Management as a Key Element of Successful M&A

  • Consider the institutional enablers and barriers to change based on the organization’s history and culture
  • Explore the psychology and physiology of change
  • Learn to manage resistance to proposed change
  • Explore options for linking change management plans to related project management plans
  • Learn how to build and deliver four key change implementation plans addressing communications, education, accountability and resource support
  • Identify key change metrics and create a system for monitoring progress and success

The Eyes of a Limited Partner

  • Asset allocation strategies
  • Evaluating private equity funds and fund performance
  • Selecting private equity funds for investment
  • Explore current trends and “hot buttons”

Keys to Fund Performance

  • Sound acquisition strategy and value creation plans
  • Focused, managed due diligence process
  • Coordinate internal and external experts
  • Identification of key value creation levers
  • Create and execute post-acquisition plan
  • Plan exit strategy


Tom Turmell - Academic Director; Director, Corporate Partnerships, Executive Education, Kellogg School of Management; Managing Director, TMT Capital Partners, LLC.

Robert Apatoff - Clinical Professor, Executive Director of the Kellogg Executive Leadership Institute Former Chief Executive Officer, FTD Companies, Inc., Former Chief Executive Officer, Rand McNally & Company

Bernie Banks - Associate Dean for Leadership Development; Clinical Professor of Management

Francesca Cornelli - Dean, Kellogg School of Management; Donald P. Jacobs Chair in Finance; Professor of Finance

Harry M. Kraemer - Clinical Professor of Management & Organizations; Former Chairman & CEO, Baxter Intl.; Executive Partner, Madison Dearborn Partners

Thomas O'Toole - Associate Dean of Executive Education; Clinical Professor of Marketing

Mitchell A. Petersen - Glen Vasel Professor of Finance; Director of the Heizer Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital

Sergio Rebelo - MUFG Bank Distinguished Professor of International Finance; Professor of Finance

David Stowell - Clinical Professor of Finance

Personal Consultation

Please contact us to schedule an advising session

Kellogg School of Management

James L. Allen Center
2169 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208