Helpful Hints for Acing Your CMAS Experience Forms

The CMAS program was designed to recognize seasoned M&A professionals with multiple deals under their belts. Thus we recommend that each CMAS candidate strive to earn at least half their credits by sharing their experiences.

Once submitted through your CMAS dashboard, your experience forms are evaluated by multiple members of the Board of M&A Standards. Board members use a rubric to award each experience up to 100 points. Points are awarded based on factors like depth of demonstrated experience; deal complexity; and the candidate’s role and responsibilities in the acquisition.

Keep these tips in mind as you complete your experience forms:

  • Choose your deals wisely. Deals must be completed and public knowledge. Furthermore, you should focus on deals where you played a key role. If you have a deal in mind that might not fit all these criteria, please contact us for guidance.
  • Once you start an experience form, it must be completed in that session. Many candidates find it useful to draft their experiences in a separate document, and then copy-paste into the online form. Not only does this give you the opportunity to draft the experience form on your own time, but it also provides an easy way to have a colleague review your work before you submit it.
  • Treat each experience form like a memo or presentation you would submit to C-level executives at your own organization. That means polished, professional writing. Write in prose, rather than in bullet points. Always follow grammar conventions and check your spelling.
  • Don’t worry too much about word count. The Board members would prefer to get all the information they need, communicated in a professional and clear way, instead of receiving incomplete responses.
  • Be specific. For example, the purpose of virtually every acquisition is “growth.” But what was the specific deal-type DNA for this deal? Perhaps it was geographic expansion or vertical integration. Refer back to your M&A training materials if you need a refresher.
  • Anonymize the deal. Your experience form may be included in our online library. As you describe the deal, be sure to mask any defining characteristics. For example, instead of using company names, use “Buyer” and “Target” or even “Company A” and “Company B.”

Tips from Current Board Members

Consider your experience forms an opportunity to showcase your work for some of the top professionals in the M&A industry. Our Board members are all experienced experts with high expectations for our CMAS candidates. They anticipate that your submission will be well-written and sufficiently detailed to quickly give them a complete picture of the deal itself, but more importantly of your role in the deal. Our Board members offer the following advice:

“Focus on the high-level but value-impacting lessons that you’ve gained via your deal experience(s). Of most interest are not those learnings, successes or failures that are specific or unique to a single experience or acquisition, but rather those that would be pertinent to future experiences and that you’d want to build into your company’s ‘standard’ M&A approaches going forward.  Be very specific as to not only what your assigned role was across deal phases, but also – if applicable – to how you interacted with and even influenced others across the team.  How did your involvement impact deal value drivers, including financial measures?  How did it impact the experience of the acquired team, of customers/partners and any other stakeholders?”

-Dan Menge, Director M&A Integration & Corporate Development, Cisco


“Although we might find it interesting to receive detailed descriptions of the project itself, that is not the primary purpose of the experience form.  If fact we are scoring the individual--not the team. So the candidate has this opportunity to differentiate their role from the overall team context.  We are especially interested in thoughtfulness, in the submission, involving a key learning or contribution.”

-Bruce Fleming, EVP Strategy & Growth, Calumet Specialty Products




“Focus your commentary on your end-to-end experience with the initiative.  Emphasize your role, leadership and impact.  Include your expertise and credibility with stakeholders.  Although project management could be viewed as tactical, emphasize any strategic impact it had on the initiative.  Recognize what could have been done differently to make outcomes better." 

-Sue Rider, VP Global M&A Integration, World Fuel Services