How to Work in Corporate Development, According to Maarten de Jeu

Young people entering business for the first time might be attracted to a career in corporate development. What it entails and how to get there is something an expert like Maarten de Jeu can make a bit clearer. 


Working in corporate development, de Jeu spends a lot of his time in meetings about acquisitions, mergers, and divestitures. There are the tasks involved, but how much time is devoted to them depends on the size of the companies involved, the state of the industry, and the market.


Corporate development relies heavily on strategy drafted for expansion or restructuring. Maarten de Jeu identifies what partners are worth working with when joint ventures make the most sense and everything else that fits into de Jeu’s need for organizational synergy. 


I’m working with large companies, de Jeu will consider smaller businesses with promise. It’s more than just acquiring a brand. An acquisition means the purchasing company is looking to buy customers, revenue, supply lines, and employee experience. When working on these projects, de Jeu identifies worthy targets, assesses their potential, possible risk, then works out how to best negotiate a potential integration.


Then there are times a company needs to divest. Getting rid of assets, like intellectual property, real estate, reason the business, will take place through sales, exchange, or even foreclosure. In such cases, de Jeu reviews a company’s portfolio and determines how to offload these assets in an efficient manner to minimize loss.


Working here means high volume and demand. For those who find that appealing, de Jeu has some tips on how to get there.


Consider being a business analyst as an entry-level position, de Jeu suggests. This is where analytical skills are built, and that’s necessary as corporate development requires a great deal of technical know-how expertise. But survivability there means knowing how to innovate. Being both flexible and creative is something de Jeu relies on regularly in order to solve challenging problems.


The business formalities remain in place, de Jeu notes that this is work built around relationships. Corporate development teams have to be both personable and persuasive. In negotiations, they have to present their confidence. In meetings, they will have to be inspirational. When the time comes to meet with buyers, partners, targets, and other people with the power to make decisions, de Jeu and his team rely on these social skills to facilitate better business outcomes. Learn more:


But all those skills want mean much if someone on a corporate development team doesn’t know what’s going on. Knowing about current events in the industry is how de Jeu build up his knowledge, identify trends as they emerge, monitor competitor, and apply bad information to inform decisions, strategies, and projections. 


It’s exciting work, which is why de Jeu excels at it. It also challenges him. He encourages anyone who’s interested to begin learning how to negotiate, lead, and adapt to changes in order to succeed.


About Maarten de Jeu:


Maarten de Jeu graduated from the University of Oxford. An expert in financial services and international business, you found a place at Aviva plc, first the as the Director of Strategy and Corporate development, then transitioning to International Strategy Manager. Years later he became a consultant with TVDK Management Consultants and was an advisor to corporations like Heinz, Sara Lee, and ING.


Maarten de Jeu also has a place on business associations such as the Economic Club of Chicago and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He is also part of educational organizations like the Environmental Law and Policy Center, the Museum of Science and Industry, and the University of Chicago, the Harris School of Public Policy Dean’s International Council.

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