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The following is an interview with Deal Team Lead Manager skylinegtr94 (he is also available to answer your questions).

Are you a professional and want to do an interview? View our interview template here and then email me your responses to [email protected]

  1. What is your current job title and a one sentence description of your primary job responsibility?
  2. Deal team lead. I manage a small team to surface and source deal flow to middle market Private Equity firms.

    Undergrad

  3. Did you go to a "target", "semi target" or "non target".
    I went to a non-target state school.

  4. What was the most useful thing you learned in ugrad that you apply in your current position?

    I learned to be pretty resourceful early on which has greatly enhanced my career to-date as our firm generally has a "here's some resources, here's what we want to do, now go figure it out" mentality. I don't mean that in a bad way either but it pays to be able to research and coach yourself along the way, especially when someone isn't there holding your hand or if you're diving into a new business plan initiative.

  5. What was the most useful thing you learned in ugrad that helped you get where you are now?

    It's been said many times before but I'll reiterate - Don't rely on your career services office to do all the work for you in trying to land a job. Classmates and professors are huge areas where casual conversations can lead to big ideas or mutual relationships you can leverage into opportunities.

  6. What are previous positions you have held and how many years of experience do you have?
  7. My first job out of undergrad in the mid 2000s was in the wonderful world consumer lending. I left that job shortly after I started; I quickly realized how linear the "career path" seemed (basically you go from sales exec, to branch manager, to district manager, etc. as opposed to opening doors in other departments at the bank).

    Shame on me for not doing a tremendous amount of industry diligence before accepting the job. This led me to explore international finance degrees. I found out that I did not have a chance in hell at making it into a top program. During this time I called a few people for letters of recommendation. One such person offered me a job and that's where I've been since, working on the buy-side as an adviser to our investor clients.

    This role has morphed from simply cold-calling and looking for proprietary deals to a much more structured process. I was promoted along the way which allows me to have a few people working in different roles under me in our team today. I think one of the best attributes of a smaller firm like ours is that when I arrived I really had the opportunity to not only define my role but build out a team and process from scratch. I was always interested in entrepreneurial initiatives and this position gave me that opportunity without the common risks of starting a company yourself.

  8. During recruiting, how were you able to set yourself apart from other competitive candidates at your school?

    In one of my interviews leading up to my first job out of undergrad, I knew I didn't have the qualifications to meet what they were looking for in an "ideal candidate," After a few pleasantries to start the interview, I stopped them and just said, "Look, I don't want to waste your time. I know I don't meet your stated criteria in what you're looking for in these candidates but I can tell you that I know I can do the work, and do it well. If you're pressed to make sure certain boxes are checked, I understand that and we should end things here so I can let you get on with the rest of your day." Two weeks later I had the offer in hand. Moral of the story is that sometimes being up-front, blunt and honest is the best approach to things. It worked out for me at the time (even though I left that company not long afterwards).

  9. What kind of internships did you have during ugrad?

    I was a double major in undergrad and really thought I wanted to go a completely different route in financial services. Ultimately, I can tell you that the best thing I took away from my internships is learning what I did NOT want to do. Sometimes that's just as valuable as finding something you really enjoy.

  10. Did you get an mba (or msf or equiv) or are you considering it?
    I have long weighed the pros and cons and haven't pulled the trigger on anything just yet. I'm still building my career where I am and it is not viewed as a requirement for advancement at my current firm. That said, I may find it makes sense further down the line should I want to set up something on my own and do some of my own investing.

  11. On the job

  12. What were some of the main factors in getting the job position you have now?

    There's no replacing good old-fashioned hard work. Early on it was networking that opened the door for me but I'd like to think I picked things up pretty quickly and made tangible impressions on the firm and senior management to get to where I am today. I used to be completely obsessed with reading everything I could about finance, private equity, investment banking, etc. This was great in terms of getting up to speed on the industry and how M&A works. Lately I've been more interested in reading specific bios like Steve Schwarzman's in "King of Capital" - a book I recommend to every new hire and intern my company takes on. For me, specifically, it goes back to being a resource for the people around you (and yourself). I may not have an answer for every question asked but I can usually get pointed in the right direction pretty quickly.

  13. What is a day in your life like during the workweek? Can you give us an hour by hour run down of your typical day?

    Like many others say here, each day is pretty varied but here's a rough idea of what I'm doing on a "normal" day:

    Arrive in the office somewhere between 7:15-8:15am - read some emails from the early morning, catch up on some news and deal announcements, scan some blog sites I like to read (depending on time of year, set fantasy football/baseball line ups as well before the rush of the day).

    8-9am - I have team meetings a few times per week to chat about our current deals, buyer feedback and next steps to divide and conquer who's doing what as well as discuss new deals in the pipeline

    10-12:30pm - make follow up calls and emails on our current deals for buyer feedback and respond more thoroughly to specific questions they have about a business (ranging from "why are they selling" to "help me understand the transaction structure the owners are looking for...")

    12:30pm - get some lunch, usually at a place across the street or around the corner. Unless I have a lunch meeting I rarely take more than 30 minutes away from my desk

    1-3pm - usually proofing new teasers and other marketing materials before we market any new deals that day or later that week.

    3-6pm - prime time for conference calls with prospective buyers and management teams. Might seem odd for mid-late afternoon as opposed to first thing in the morning, but that's how it tends to work on my end anyways.

    6pm-whenever - get last minute CRM updates into the system, a little bit of data entry (others handle the majority of this so I rarely have a ton of work to do in this area). I also usually prep anything I need to do first thing next morning so I can relax when I get home. Periodically taking/scheduling calls for later in the week or upcoming road show meetings is a good use of time after 6pm as well since you tend to have people's attention off "normal" business hours.

  14. What is your favorite part about the job? What is your least favorite?

    My favorite parts of the job are learning about new companies all of the time and working on a number of things at once - it's extremely intellectually challenging and, if you're listening enough, you can learn something new on a daily or weekly basis that will be helpful to yourself, team and clients in the future. Some people tend to prefer a more structured work environment but I like the constant juggling of multiple projects at once, each with varying timelines of work activity and urgency.

    My least favorite part is being at the beck and call at all hours but that's just part of the job. To be successful you have to be able to go the extra mile and be resourceful to people or you might lose out on a deal. It is also worth mentioning here that there are a ton of assholes in this industry that will treat you like shit no matter what, which at this point I'm pretty well used to but that doesn't make it more tolerable the next time someone is yelling at you over the phone for something that truly does not matter. Just gotta let it slide.

  15. What is the company culture like at your firm? What is the size of your firm?

    We have a fairly small firm and on a daily basis there are between 5-12 people in the office so you get to know those coworkers pretty well. I like that we have a pretty laid back atmosphere where all doors are open at all times.

  16. Did you ever have a mentor and who were some other influential people who helped you along the way?

    Early on in my career I found some business contacts whose opinions I valued and tended to keep in touch with them on a more regular basis than others - people you can just call and bounce ideas off to make sure you were thinking about a situation the right way. I wouldn't call that a mentor in the traditional sense, but more mentoring by committee I guess. Over time this developed into a few individuals, both senior to me and at the same/similar level that I periodically have lunch or breakfast with to just catch up and shoot the shit, talk about career progression, but rarely day to day work stuff. Sometimes you need someone to kick you in the ass and other times someone to check against to make sure you're not royally screwing something up. I'm glad to say I have a few people I can turn to in those situations outside my firm for exactly that.

  17. Are the sacrifices you've made to date worth the benefit realized by you so far in your career?

    Absolutely.

  18. If you weren't working in finance, what do you think you would be doing?

    Hosting Top Gear on BBC.

  19. What keeps you motivated?

    Not to be too cheesy with this response but, coming from a sales-oriented background, to me there's nothing better than closing a sale. It makes all the stress and long hours more than worth it in the end.

  20. How much does money motivate you?

    I had commented on this on another thread here pretty recently but I truly do not hold money as the end all be all. You can't take it with you when the reaper comes calling. My motivation regarding the almighty dollar is to become financially stable enough where money is a few places down the priority list. Of course many people may want to have hundreds of millions but I'm not sure how realistic that goal is for the masses.

  21. How much does someone in a role like yours make per year (base + bonus)?

    It depends. I think another way to think about this is what your all-in comp would be and what % of that is bonus. Ideally in a good year I want my bonus to match or exceed my base salary and then some. Could be $200k-500k or more. This all depends on the deals you work on and what type of transaction structures (i.e. debt deals, buyouts, IPOs, etc.)

  22. Have you ever considered leaving your job to start your own company?

    Yes, but quickly realized at the time I had no idea what I was doing it and would have been a terrible mistake. As I alluded to earlier when asked about an MBA, this might be something worth looking into a few more years down the road.

See Part 2 Here (available on wed march 6th, 1pm)

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Comments (2)

  • yeahright's picture

    skylinegtr94:
  • During recruiting, how were you able to set yourself apart from other competitive candidates at your school?

    In one of my interviews leading up to my first job out of undergrad, I knew I didn't have the qualifications to meet what they were looking for in an "ideal candidate," After a few pleasantries to start the interview, I stopped them and just said, "Look, I don't want to waste your time. I know I don't meet your stated criteria in what you're looking for in these candidates but I can tell you that I know I can do the work, and do it well. If you're pressed to make sure certain boxes are checked, I understand that and we should end things here so I can let you get on with the rest of your day." Two weeks later I had the offer in hand. Moral of the story is that sometimes being up-front, blunt and honest is the best approach to things. It worked out for me at the time (even though I left that company not long afterwards).

  • Nice interview +1, I especially liked the part above.

    Frank Sinatra - "Alcohol may be man's worst enemy, but the bible says love your enemy."

  • Unforseen's picture

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