Q&A with Nefarious - a Strategy Associate at a Fortune 500 Company (Part One)

Afternoon, monkeys. I've got the first of a two part interview for you today with certified user Nefarious. Nefarious works in Strategy at a major Fortune 500 Aerospace & Defense company. While I know many of your are focused on banking and private equity, I think everyone can benefit from hearing his story.

Strategy jobs are some of the most intellectually satisfying roles out there, and they've got a great work-life balance. Plus, if you're in an interesting industry, like A&D, you'll put yourself in a position to have a tremendous, well-paying career in a space you really care about. From what Nefarious told me about his role, I'd bet that he's got one of the best jobs of anyone on the site.

And for any non-target readers who want to hear about non-traditional ways to break into a tough industry, his story is one of the best I've ever heard.

Today, we cover his background, how he broke into the industry, and extensive details on his Strategy job. Without further ado, here is Part One of the Q&A:

Death to 'Reply All'

We've all been there before.

An Analyst buddy sends a group-wide email. Something about a relevant deal and he wants to be sure that all the MDs know about it. Not to mention, it's almost bonus time and he wants them to know that he knows about it.

"Is he serious with this shit?" you think to yourself. Why not give him a little grief?

So, you shoot off a quick reply. "Way to make me look bad, d*ckhead. Get back to spreading comps."

You chuckle to yourself. Proud of your pithy, yet topical, comment, when suddenly it hits you...

"Oh my God. What I have I done." You hit 'Reply All'

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Warnings Shots Over the Fiscal Cliff

1.6 trillion in tax hikes, a change to the debt ceiling, payroll tax extensions and further stimulus seem to be the basis of the first salvo in the fiscal cliff talks... or at leas the first details we are aware of. All of this comes while Obama is embarking on his presidential victory tour trying to drum of public outcry to solve the fiscal cliff; as if we need anymore awareness of the coming issues. Many of the questions we've been getting here from clients revolve around the likely impacts of the cliff and potential pitfalls should we go over full bore.

Bonus Bananas November 30, 2012

1) Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan Apparently Can't Remember Anything (Rolling Stone) - Obfuscate much? Apparently Moynihan was less than helpful when he was deposed in the MBIA v. BofA et al suit. "I can't recall" is the new pleading the fifth.

2) UBS fined over rogue trading case (CNN Money) - Just in time for the holidays, Kweku Adeboli gets to ruin everyone's bonus check for another year at UBS. On top of that, the bank might be forced to raise capital. This guy is the gift that keeps on giving.

3) What It Was Like to Be a Woman at Goldman Sachs (The Atlantic) - Let me guess, it sucked? Look, she's got some valid points about sexism on the Street in this piece, but to described Goldman as "a frat on steroids" leads me to believe she's never been to a frat, and never seen the effects of steroids.

Investment Banks' Compensation - Great News for Goldman Sachs!

Afternoon Monkeys,

Saw this on Reuters a little while ago and thought all the prospective monkeys (or transitioning monkeys) might be interested in learning how the big banks compare with each other in terms of pay:

(see if you can find the odd one out)

crap, I suck at doing images

Top 5 Must-Have Skills for 2013

The pressure to excel is higher than ever. With the economy, market, and political structures of our society rapidly fluctuating, job prospects are becoming limited and competition is becoming incredibly difficult to maintain.

Parents, mentors, and peers continue to add to the pressure. Parents have always advised on the importance of education, obtaining your first job, and paying off your student loan payments. Mentors serve as direct and indirect pressure forces. Using Venture Capital as an example, mentors may be continually pressuring you to make more progress and/or hire more competent team members.

They can also indirectly pressure you by serving as a benchmark for success - the student must surpass the master. Also your friends serve as the final pressure force. You log on to Facebook any day of the week and see status updates on job promotions, new cars, and vacations. The initial thought that crosses your mind is "this person is an asshole"...but you also begin to slowly realize that "this person must be doing really well."...Right?

Why Your iTunes Library May Be Obsolete

The way we listen to music is changing. From people wearing ungodly large headphones on the train, to hipsters rocking out to their vinyl tracks, it seems like there is a "new thing" with respect to listening to music that comes out every single day.

I'm not saying I miss the days of listening to my Discman, but it is interesting to me how many of my friends choose to not own a music collection at all anymore. Streaming is the new kid on the block, and it looks like more and more people are turning to services like Spotify for their musical needs than good old iTunes or Amazon.

An Ocean of Capital: Saturation in Private Equity

First it was rumors. The grapevine of talk from other private equity associates and friends from the BB where I did my banking stint. Of course, gossip is one thing we're all used to from our investment banking days and just like at our old jobs ,there was no shortage of juicy gossip. However, I brushed a lot of it off as standard ex-banker complaining. After all, everyone loves to complain in finance.

But then came the calls. Headhunters that I haven't talked to for a year were suddenly emailing me and calling me to "catch up". Was this a new hiring boom in a new vertical of finance? Unfortunately no, it was open PE positions that were looking for laterals. Complaints of a saturated market and the inability to get deals done were no longer just harmless complaints from overworked associates. Apparently the rumors were true. PE associates were leaving their jobs for business school, startups, hedge funds, corp dev, etc.

The private equity (and any investment related industry in general) was oversaturated. There was too much capital in the world. This may be hard to believe, but according to a very recent Bain & Co. research report, total financial assets are nearly 10 times the value of global output of all goods and services. Let that sink in for a moment...

Has An MBA Become Redundant?

I stumbled upon an interesting article, "Would The Economy Be Better Off Without MBA Students" on The Economist earlier. Now I'm sure this debate is not new to anyone but perhaps not highlighted enough these days.

Seeing that I don't have enough points to post links, here are some key excerpts:


"Were conventional MBA programmes to be closed down, a few potentially excellent managers would be denied that boost to the executive suite. But other capable people without that piece of paper would have a greater chance of getting into managerial positions. Indeed, the best managers would find their way there anyway, and with greater justification: they would have earned their managerial stripes as they must, by managing.

As a consequence, companies would be better managed and the economy would be better off. Don't get me wrong. It is not that the MBA is irrelevant. Rather, it is highly relevant, in a negative sense: it represents a form of training that distorts rather than develops the practice of management.

email disaster

Attempted to cold email one of the alumni (VP at the firm), used the email format on WSO and turned out emailing the wrong person with the same last name and same first name initial (a senior MD). first time, that guy didn't reply, then I followed up with him and he forwarded my resume to the campus recruiter and the recruiter implicitly told me I emailed the wrong person. Am I screwed?

Mod note (Andy): while we're on the topic, what's the worst email disaster you've had (or heard about)?

Walk-in "cold call" question

Hey guys, looking for some advice. So I've been knocking on a few doors recently by making early morning drop ins which is a great experience btw. While doing my research of firms, I became more focused on understanding the strategies and culture (boutique and medium sized firms) which has helped preparing the resume and cover letter for the firms.

2nd year IB Analyst taking questions

Hi everyone,

I'm a longtime lurker of this forum but I've never posted before. The information I got here over the past couple of years was hugely helpful when I was in school and looking for my job in banking, and still useful today. I wanted to give back by providing an opportunity for people who may be in the position I was in a couple of years ago to ask questions and get straightforward, frank answers.

Quick background on me: