Trusted advice and guidance on strategy, taking a school brand abroad, merger and acquisition, and dissolution.
How We Help Independent School Brands Abroad
With decades of experience in independent and international schools, Westlake Global supports US independent school brands considering expansion into the international school market. Following British independent school brands that have been expanding abroad for almost 20 years, US independent school brands have favorable opportunities to establish campuses overseas, with the benefit of lessons learned from independent counterparts.
Anchored in an understanding of why your school brand is considering international expansion, we identify opportunities and possible routes to market based on our extensive market knowledge, intelligence, key partnerships, and unparalleled network. We provide insights into regulatory environments, demographic influences, government controls and protocols, and more, and we work with your legal partner on your brand protection strategy as well as corporate structuring options that will be available to you.
We also assist with due diligence efforts, when it comes time to vet potential partners and their track record(s), as well as provide you with risk analysis in order to satisfy your governing board and any other related parties.
As you move forward, we can provide further business development support, research, and coordination services with your on-the-ground legal team, the construction and/or architectural team, and are happy to support recruitment of your founding head of school and your first cadre of teachers.
Next Steps: How to Work With Us
- Contact us for a confidential conversation: so that you can understand exactly how we can help you. We are happy for a virtual call, or we are equally happy to meet with you and your exploratory team in-person. You can reach us via our website at westlakeglobal.org.
- Business development: we help you to identify country/city opportunities and routes to market, understanding regulatory environments, demographic influences, government controls and protocols (e.g., licensing protocols, restrictions for foreign owners, curriculum requirements, controls on school fees, student quotas, teaching license regulations), and more. We also work with your legal partner(s) on your brand protection strategy and school structure options available to you (e.g., direct investment, brand licensing, franchise, or co-operation agreement with a local partner). Please note that the business development phase can easily take 3 to 6 months. After this phase, you can proceed on your own, or engage us at the next level, as outlined below.
- Post Target Market Identification & Implementation: we help you to perform due diligence on any potential partner(s) by using our connections at embassies, governmental agencies, and more; prepare (and direct, if desired) your search for the founding head of your overseas campus; liaise with your on-the-ground legal team as well as your construction and/or architectural team; perform further research as required; and liaise with a teacher recruitment agency to handle all your initial hiring needs for the first year of the school’s operations. We can also stay with you in a high-level advisory capacity through your first year or two of operations, if desired, including regularly-scheduled visits to the new campus to ensure that the leadership team and local partner are in lockstep with you, and report back to your governing board.
Strategy compels us to ask, research, and discover ‘what would have to be true’ about our school, our sector, and current and prospective families for our strategy to work. Then, as we watch the world unfold, if we see that something is not working out as we had thought, we can tweak, tone, and refine. In other words, strategy is iterative: it seeks adjustment according to real-world conditions. Educational institutions are like live organisms that respond to their environment; we treat strategy in a similar way.
Across our portfolio of work, we advise relentlessly on strategy because we understand that strategy gives a school or university the chance to do something great, something that involves a family wanting your product or service enough that they will pay for it, allowing you to deliver your mission now and in the future.
For institutions that have a history of strategic planning, but have no history of strategy-making, we work with you to identify the integrated set of coherent choices that will result in the competitive outcome you wish to achieve, equipping and empowering you to win with the customers who matter—families who desire deeply what you have to offer.
Frame a given strategic choice as a possibility with at least two mutually independent options
Broaden the list of strategic choices to reflect additional alternatives
Specify the conditions that would have to be true in order for an option to be strategically sound
Identify the barriers to all choices
Design and conduct tests for those barrier items
Analyse the resultant data and compare the results to key conditions
Client schools would expect their advisor not only to identify additional expertise required for a transaction, they would expect the advisor’s input on financial strategy, on the marketing position and profile of the organisation, on the nature of the deal, and more.
Less obvious, but nevertheless critical, roles include playing operational consultant to help prepare an organisation for sale, integration manager to assist in combining two organisations, or other. The successful transition of an organisation normally takes a multidisciplinary team where one member assumes the lead role—this is the Certified Merger & Acquisitions Advisor®.
We are a Certified Merger & Acquisition Advisor®
We follow a rigorous process when it comes to engaging in Merger and Acquisition activity with a school. We start by assessing your objectives and conducting strategic discussions up front to ensure that an M&A project to be undertaken is appropriate for your circumstances, and has a chance to be successful.
Closing down (winding down) a school and subsequently dissolving the corporation is a highly emotional, tedious process whose parameters never fail to surprise board members and heads of school with respect to the level of execution and compliance that is required. Too many institutions ignore the precipitous state of their financials until the ‘nuclear option’ has to be put on the table as an acknowledged choice, usually alongside other efforts such as seeking a mission- aligned merger opportunity, a heart-wrenching community fundraising effort, and others.
We prefer to help institutions place this option on the table sooner rather than later, educating the board and institutional leadership on what this choice entails, so that eyes are wide-open as the organisation moves forward with an exploration of other opportunities to keep the doors open, yet aware of how to proceed with closure and dissolution in a way that provides dignity and grace for students, families, faculty, and staff.
Dissolution may seem an odd choice for a firm that specialises in innovation and growth. We believe that organisations faced with dissolution should simultaneously consider how dissolution may represent a singular opportunity to invent something new. Sometimes outdated structures need to be removed, in order to make room for new ones that are designed to thrive in the future.