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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:

TheKing: So, tell us a bit about your background. Where'd you go to school, what did you major in?

Nefarious: I attended a top 50 non-target and majored in Economics and minored in Philosophy. My original plan was to go to law school, hence the odd major and minor combination, however, I eventually decided against it. During the time I was weighing my decision I had a lot of contacts telling me it was a bloated industry with graduates from a lot of good schools only able to find jobs as clerks, pushing paper for 15-20 dollars an hour. That sounded pretty terrible so I ended up going in a different direction.

TheKing: I understand you work in Strategy at a Fortune 500 Aerospace and Defense company. How'd you get into that? Previous banking or consulting experience?

Nefarious: Correct - I work for a Global 500 firm in the Aerospace and Defense field. After I graduated I had no clue what I wanted to do. Spending four years of college preparing to go to law school only to ditch that idea at the last second left me fairly high and dry and since I went to an out of state school, I financed my education by bartending, which meant staying at school during the summer to work instead of getting internships (money > working for free).

I began networking fairly heavily - my bartending gig paid extremely well so I was not worried about money and was more concerned about finding a good fit and a good opportunity. I was fortunate enough to find a strategy position with a tech firm in NY. I accepted the offer and worked there for two years before taking a role with my current company. I did not have any previous banking or consulting experience although I did have a boutique IB offer before I took the job in NY. I have always viewed the diluted hourly rate in IB to be a little ridiculous, especially when there are plenty of other opportunities out there with comparable pay and far less hours needing to be put in. Besides, most IB and consulting guys typically end up jumping ship to CorpStrat/CorpDev after most of them don't land that PE/HF job they were gunning for, so I just cut out the middle man.

TheKing: What is the role of the Strategy group within your company? In my experience, companies sometimes have separate Strategy and M&A groups, with Strategy groups working more on a high-level business development projects while M&A groups focus on potential acquisition targets. Is this the case at your firm?

Nefarious: This is where big company corporate bureaucracy comes into play. Because this is a Global 500 company with literally hundreds of divisions, there is a separate CorpStrat/CorpDev team that does that type of work for the company as a whole located at our headquarters. Below that there are the individual groups at specific divisions (Example: Aerospace v. Ground & Armaments). To make things even more confusing, these can be split between Strategy and M&A divisions and to go even further, M&A can be split between back office finance guys and front office negotiators and lawyers. These teams tend to run the company - I have seen M&A teams swoop into a division and take over the localized finance departments to help with their specific deal or to assist with due diligence, resulting in these people having to put their typical day to day tasks (like month end reporting) on the back burner. The corporate group is typically comprised of individuals with 20+ years experience.

I am at an actual division (although I have made contacts at the corporate level and do plan on making moves there once my wife graduates med school). Typically we will come up with ideas/strategies or identify targets and discuss them with corporate to see how this idea would interface with the global strategy of the firm.

TheKing: Let's hear a bit about your day to day role. What keeps you busy all day? What is a typical week like? Do you have a specific sector focus or do you cover all aspects of your firm's businesses?

Nefarious: Currently I am working at a specific division. As I alluded to earlier, I am not big on staying at the office for the sake of putting in face time. I show my value through my work, not how long I stay in the office or if I am the last to leave. I typically get to the office at 7:30 and leave whenever the job is done - sometimes this is at 6 or 7, sometimes it is at 3 or 4. It really depends on what we have going on. The last two months of the year are a lot shorter because it is really the only time of the year when people take vacation. I typically work around 50 hours a week and am usually gone by Friday at 2. I NEVER work weekends. As a matter of fact, I have only worked one weekend, it was a Saturday and we hit it at 6pm and stopped at 2am and that was for a big emergency we had to take care of.

Because my days change so often I will give you a quick summary of what they have been like for the past month:

Catch up on emails (like I said earlier, unless it is an emergency, I do not work the weekends, I get everything done during the week and leave no loose ends)
Around 9 or 10 we will have a staff meeting and catch up on old business, talk about some new stuff that is on our plate, go over projects, etc.

After that I will check in on some of the project(s) we have been working on, talk with some of my analysts/review their work, etc.

Around Noon I will eat lunch in my office (just a quick jab at some of you wall street guys, I have a corner office with four windows and it faces the water, take a second to stand up and look around the outside of your cube and ask yourself why you chose a career where they pack you into your assigned box like a chicken :-D)

Typically after this we will have some meetings with a few Directors/VPs/GMs from our division or the corporate strategy team to catch them up to speed on current projects
Somewhere in between the meetings I will sit down and hammer out some models, help some analysts with their models, help polish up some presentations and meet with clients/acquisition targets.

TheKing: What are some interesting projects you've had the chance to work on? What is it about your job that makes it fun and engaging?

Nefarious: Without getting into too much detail, there are two things that are going to keep the defense industry booming due to the looming Obama budget cuts.

The first is maintaining and upgrading what our military already has. R&D projects like rail guns will almost certainly get scrapped while projects like upgrading satellites and naval vessels will take center stage. The second is finding and entering markets that are not dependent upon the government and will not be affected by budget cuts. Now obviously we can't go selling tanks and war grade optic systems to civilians, so what I mean by this is entering other markets like the energy sector.
The great part about working for a Global 500 is we are not dependent upon the US Military (although it is our biggest customer).

One of the most interesting things I have been a part of is looking at entering civilian markets, a new venture for my division. We actually bid a lot of work at a loss for 2012 to show the market not only we are capable of doing the work, but we are better at it than the current competitors in the area. Taking that initial hit in 2012 has set up a huge pipeline for not only 2013, but for an extended 5-10 year forecast as well.
The best part about it is it changes every day and being involved in huge risk strategies like knowingly bidding work at a loss to secure our future.

TheKing: Back in the day, I interviewed for Boeing's Strategy group. I remember one of the perks of the job was the incredible exposure you could get. Even though Boeing is a giant global business, the Strategy group had legitimate access to the company's top officers. Do you get this sort of exposure in your role?

Nefarious: Again, the level of bureaucracy might make something like this a little more difficult for others. I am fortunate to have impressed higher ups in my division as well as having a few good close friends at the corporate level. This affords me certain luxuries like an invite to the corporate Christmas party each year.

TheKing: Any other downsides to the job? Anything you don't particularly love about it?

Nefarious: As I mentioned earlier - the levels of red tape and bureaucracy. It can sometimes take a while for big decisions to be made. Other than that, the government is a tricky beast. It is always an interesting dynamic having a customer that created the rules and laws you have to play by only to change them whenever they want.

TheKing: How'd you end up in the Aerospace & Defense field? Was it something you focused your search on while you were at the tech firm or were you simply focused on finding a new Strategy / Corp. Dev. type of position?

Nefarious: I had never really thought about it as a career - as I stated earlier I had a few close friend working at the company and we had talked about some of the work they were involved in, the various opportunities available (career development/travel opportunities/pay/bonuses/etc). I guess secretly I aspire to be Tony Stark.

_______________________________________________________

Part Two of our interview will be up on Tuesday, December 4th.

8

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Comments (106)

  • AndyLouis's picture

    great interview, thanks Nefarious for all the helpful info and sharing your story!

  • Nefarious-'s picture

    Thanks guys. I hope some of you find value in this series.

    I will be around to field any questions some of you may have.

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • Bobb's picture

    Great interview. Nerarious, when did you graduate college?

  • Febreeze's picture

    the straight-razor guy?

    good interview dude.

  • In reply to Bobb
    Nefarious-'s picture

    Bobb:
    Great interview. Nerarious, when did you graduate college?

    2008

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to Febreeze
    Nefarious-'s picture

    Febreeze:
    the straight-razor guy?

    good interview dude.

    You should give it a try

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to Nefarious-
    Febreeze's picture

    Nefarious-:
    Febreeze:
    the straight-razor guy?

    good interview dude.

    You should give it a try

    the thing is, the hair grows back.

    regarding your work, did you need to be cleared by the government?

    also, how much internal hiring do these groups do? say, you're coming into an fldp - there isn't much control over which rotations you're assigned to, so obviously networking would be the best play for assignment coming out of the program, but what sort of advice would you give to someone who was going that route?

    edit: didn't read about the upcoming interview, sorry

  • CaR's picture

    Lockheed? Regardless, thanks for sharing

  • In reply to Febreeze
    Nefarious-'s picture

    Febreeze:
    Nefarious-:
    Febreeze:
    the straight-razor guy?

    good interview dude.

    You should give it a try

    the thing is, the hair grows back.

    regarding your work, did you need to be cleared by the government?

    also, how much internal hiring do these groups do? say, you're coming into an fldp - there isn't much control over which rotations you're assigned to, so obviously networking would be the best play for assignment coming out of the program, but what sort of advice would you give to someone who was going that route?

    Getting security clearance or a TS/SCI is dependant upon your division and what type of work you are doing. There are heavier than normal background checks during the hiring process and all American employees fall under the SSA designation that the American division has with the US Government.

    Internal hiring depends. Our group is a mix of individuals that are stars in one way or another (negotiating, contracts, BD, finance, etc) - it is the overall teamwork that typically makes our team successful. We will typically look to fill gaps we feel like we need for our team.

    Regarding FLDP's - these are entirely finance related and rotations range from audit, accounting, program finance and FP&A. Most of it is designed to get your feet wet, get you thinking about how the business works and introduce you to programs and divisions. The biggest asset you are getting from an FLDP is the huge network you can put together, internally, in three years. That being said, my group is not actively seeking FLDPs to join our group for two reasons:

    1) They are typically introverted to the actual FLDP class they are in

    2) Their knowledge is too limited

    Although this seems to be an issue for the people I have seen hired into the FLDPs. Personally, I think we could get a much higher quality of candidate (and that doesn't necessarily mean higher quality of the name on their diploma).

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • Onetwobit's picture

    Great interview.

    I get the impression you broke in when the job market wasn't laughable, correct?

  • moneymogul's picture

    Awesome interview coming from another Tony Stark aspirant, although I wonder if business is the correct route.

    Couple questions:

    1) If you don't mind, what is the pay like? And progression?
    2) What are your long term goals?

    "Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected." - Jobs

  • Febreeze's picture

    great insights.

    since you probably can't talk about projects you've worked on with your current company (if you can then please do,) can you share some experiences you had at the tech company you started out with? maybe, an outline of how you guys went through a project.

  • OtisRedding's picture

    Awesome interview!

  • Ruskii's picture

    Good Interview,

    Can you talk a little bit about how you landed your first strategy gig? I'm guessing it was based on fit, or did you have some kind of experience that you leveraged?

  • In reply to moneymogul
    chron3k's picture

    Similar to moneymogul, I'm interest in how comp is, and how it progresses as you advance through the organization.

    As a consultant, I'm interested to see how industry comp compares to consulting comp across one's career.

    Another related question is the speed of progression (you've mentioned bureaucracy a number of times--is it a situation where you'll need someone to retire/move on/etc. for a spot to open up so that you can advance?).

  • expenseaccounts's picture

    Enjoy your little windowed office at Division Corp Strat, your 50 hour weeks and those awesome Corporate-level Strat "networking opportunities."

    I'll be putting in 90, talking fantasy football and divesting a quarter of your businesses over sushi with your CEO.

    "Breaking into" business level strat? Terri Schiavo could stroll into that gig.

    Let's see them silver bananas.

  • is-t's picture

    good interview. but the chip on the shoulder is a little bit unbearable.

  • In reply to expenseaccounts
    TheKing's picture

    expenseaccounts:
    Enjoy your little windowed office at Division Corp Strat, your 50 hour weeks and those awesome Corporate-level Strat "networking opportunities."

    I'll be putting in 90, talking fantasy football and divesting a quarter of your businesses over sushi with your CEO.

    "Breaking into" business level strat? Terri Schiavo could stroll into that gig.

    Let's see them silver bananas.

    Something tells me that you've never worked a day in investment banking. Just a hunch.

  • In reply to expenseaccounts
    SirTradesaLot's picture

    expenseaccounts:
    Enjoy your little windowed office at Division Corp Strat, your 50 hour weeks and those awesome Corporate-level Strat "networking opportunities."

    I'll be putting in 90, talking fantasy football and divesting a quarter of your businesses over sushi with your CEO.

    "Breaking into" business level strat? Terri Schiavo could stroll into that gig.

    Let's see them silver bananas.


    Watch out, we've got a badass over here.

    adapt or die:
    What would P.T. Barnum say about you?

    MY BLOG

  • kingfalcon's picture

    I really enjoyed this... looking forward to the second part!

  • In reply to Nefarious-
    Downeasta's picture

    Nefarious-:
    Febreeze:
    the straight-razor guy?

    good interview dude.

    You should give it a try

    Also a straight razor guy. Do it Breezy, you won't go back. If you're concerned about price, try getting a "shavette", which is basically a straight razor with disposable blades. It's around $20. Poka tovarisch

  • Febreeze's picture

    lol. if i get a job, ill go to fuckin art of shaving for all i care. til then, i'm ticking to electric.

  • In reply to TheKing
    expenseaccounts's picture

    TheKing:
    expenseaccounts:
    Enjoy your little windowed office at Division Corp Strat, your 50 hour weeks and those awesome Corporate-level Strat "networking opportunities."

    I'll be putting in 90, talking fantasy football and divesting a quarter of your businesses over sushi with your CEO.

    "Breaking into" business level strat? Terri Schiavo could stroll into that gig.

    Let's see them silver bananas.

    Something tells me that you've never worked a day in investment banking. Just a hunch.

    Good hunch - I haven't, because I've got social skills and don't want to spend my 20s as a boring drone.

  • In reply to CaR
    cplpayne's picture

    CaR:
    Lockheed? Regardless, thanks for sharing

    L3

    "One should recognize reality even when one doesn't like it, indeed, especially when one doesn't like it." - Charlie Munger

  • In reply to expenseaccounts
    TheKing's picture

    expenseaccounts:
    TheKing:
    expenseaccounts:
    Enjoy your little windowed office at Division Corp Strat, your 50 hour weeks and those awesome Corporate-level Strat "networking opportunities."

    I'll be putting in 90, talking fantasy football and divesting a quarter of your businesses over sushi with your CEO.

    "Breaking into" business level strat? Terri Schiavo could stroll into that gig.

    Let's see them silver bananas.

    Something tells me that you've never worked a day in investment banking. Just a hunch.

    Good hunch - I haven't, because I've got social skills and don't want to spend my 20s as a boring drone.

    But, wait...I thought you were going to be putting in 90 hours a week advising CEOs on divestiture opportunities. Now you're not going to be a banker because you have social skills? Not that you've done anything in this thread to demonstrate your social skills.

    Anyone that knocks another man for their means of making a living, assuming they are being responsible, moral, and law abiding, is a total clown.

  • F. Ro Jo's picture

    What's the relationship between your team and strategy consultants? Antagonistic? Collaborative?

  • Nefarious-'s picture

    I apologize for the delay in responses, I have been busy tonight. I will get right on replying to each of you. Thank you for the interest.

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to TheKing
    expenseaccounts's picture

    TheKing:
    expenseaccounts:
    TheKing:
    expenseaccounts:
    Enjoy your little windowed office at Division Corp Strat, your 50 hour weeks and those awesome Corporate-level Strat "networking opportunities."

    I'll be putting in 90, talking fantasy football and divesting a quarter of your businesses over sushi with your CEO.

    "Breaking into" business level strat? Terri Schiavo could stroll into that gig.

    Let's see them silver bananas.

    Something tells me that you've never worked a day in investment banking. Just a hunch.

    Good hunch - I haven't, because I've got social skills and don't want to spend my 20s as a boring drone.

    But, wait...I thought you were going to be putting in 90 hours a week advising CEOs on divestiture opportunities. Now you're not going to be a banker because you have social skills? Not that you've done anything in this thread to demonstrate your social skills.

    Anyone that knocks another man for their means of making a living, assuming they are being responsible, moral, and law abiding, is a total clown.

    You sound like the type of guy who wears square toed shoes.

    I'm going to give you a minute to put 2 and 2 together. And while you do that, I'm going to tell you a parable to help you understand. Once upon a time, a bunch of boys attended a prep school. The smart ones who were smooth got laid a lot and later went into consulting, the mediocre ones who spent a lot of time studying to make themselves seem smart, and who didn't get laid much, later ended up in banking. The morons ended up in F500. LOL at "breaking in-" that still cracks me up.

    I've had hot sake and talked football with more CEOs than you'll probably ever meet in your life. Not saying that to be mean - just stating what's probably true.

    As to the second comment - are you Normal Rockwell? Do you collect Thomas Kincaid paintings?

  • In reply to Onetwobit
    Nefarious-'s picture

    tmur:
    Great interview.

    I get the impression you broke in when the job market wasn't laughable, correct?

    Incorrect - I landed both my first job and this job when the market was shit.

    I actually had a contract with the Navy drawn up to enter SWCC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special_Warfare_Comba...) and on the week I was going to sign it I landed my first job. At the time my wife was my girlfriend and I decided I didn't want to jeopardize our relationship. Glad I made that decision, although I often regret not serving this country, especially being around active military and veterans fairly often.

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to moneymogul
    Nefarious-'s picture

    moneymogul:
    Awesome interview coming from another Tony Stark aspirant, although I wonder if business is the correct route.

    Couple questions:

    1) If you don't mind, what is the pay like? And progression?
    2) What are your long term goals?

    Pay is very fair - the company goes on pay-grades. For example, an entry level analyst would be a grade 8, a senior analyst would be a grade 10 and so on. We try to keep pay fairly close to the recommended mid range set forth by HR; however, our group pays a little on the higher end.

    Our analysts tend to make 70k with performance bonuses and other bonuses throughout the year. My position is between 85-115k with typical year end bonuses in the 10-25% range. Once you start getting into the Director/VP range is when you really start balling. I believe my Director receives a base of 225K and receives quarterly bonuses ranging from 20-30%. I know these numbers might be a little jaw dropping for some of you to see, but the defense industry has probably been the most lucrative industry in the US for quite some time. I am sure you can appreciate why everyone is against the budget cuts.

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to expenseaccounts
    TheKing's picture

    expenseaccounts:
    TheKing:
    expenseaccounts:
    TheKing:
    expenseaccounts:
    Enjoy your little windowed office at Division Corp Strat, your 50 hour weeks and those awesome Corporate-level Strat "networking opportunities."

    I'll be putting in 90, talking fantasy football and divesting a quarter of your businesses over sushi with your CEO.

    "Breaking into" business level strat? Terri Schiavo could stroll into that gig.

    Let's see them silver bananas.

    Something tells me that you've never worked a day in investment banking. Just a hunch.

    Good hunch - I haven't, because I've got social skills and don't want to spend my 20s as a boring drone.

    But, wait...I thought you were going to be putting in 90 hours a week advising CEOs on divestiture opportunities. Now you're not going to be a banker because you have social skills? Not that you've done anything in this thread to demonstrate your social skills.

    Anyone that knocks another man for their means of making a living, assuming they are being responsible, moral, and law abiding, is a total clown.

    You sound like the type of guy who wears square toed shoes.

    I'm going to give you a minute to put 2 and 2 together. And while you do that, I'm going to tell you a parable to help you understand. Once upon a time, a bunch of boys attended a prep school. The smart ones who were smooth got laid a lot and later went into consulting, the mediocre ones who spent a lot of time studying to make themselves seem smart, and who didn't get laid much, later ended up in banking. The morons ended up in F500. LOL at "breaking in-" that still cracks me up.

    I've had hot sake and talked football with more CEOs than you'll probably ever meet in your life. Not saying that to be mean - just stating what's probably true.

    As to the second comment - are you Normal Rockwell? Do you collect Thomas Kincaid paintings?

    You're like a bad combination of a wannabe-leveraged sellout and a wannabe tucker max. At least do a better job if you're going to be a troll.

  • In reply to Febreeze
    Nefarious-'s picture

    Febreeze:
    great insights.

    since you probably can't talk about projects you've worked on with your current company (if you can then please do,) can you share some experiences you had at the tech company you started out with? maybe, an outline of how you guys went through a project.

    Because of the size of my company we tend to view acquisitions the same way ABInbev would. We wait for smaller, regional guys to make moves or do something truly innovative or win a big contract, and then we buy them. Pretty simple process, actually. Of course we like to keep our targets in line with our global and divisional strategies and goals. As I talked about earlier, the Ground & Armament sector is taking a bit of a hit right now so it is a sector we are staying away from (in terms of expanding).

    My original strat job was at a very small tech company in NY that had maybe 100 employees, 80 of which were dedicated salesmen. The other 20 were executive staff, admin, finance and the strat team. I was fairly fortunate to get into this group as a guy right out of college, but I might personal connections with the group and sold myself, not only on my abilities to do the job and perform, but also showing I would be a pleasure to work with each day.

    During my time there we do one acquisition. It was for a local competitor and it was the first one the company had done. It was a new experience to the executive team and the strat team. We basically identified the company we wanted, got together with finance and our attorneys to assist with due diligence and came up with a valuation of the business that included looking at the past five years of sales to check for growth (positive growth each year, sales increase more each year), checking their debt (zero debt) and checking their income statement, balance sheet, etc - the main thing we looked for was to see if they were cash flow positive. We basically took all of that, looked at their current client base and possible pipeline and put a multiple together. It was a good target because it eliminated competition in the area, grew our client base and helped grow the company.

    I hope this answered your question.

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to Nefarious-
    OMS's picture

    Nefarious-:
    Thanks guys. I hope some of you find value in this series.

    I will be around to field any questions some of you may have.

    +! brah.

    how long does it take to make director from senior analyst/manager? 225k base and 20-30% quarterly bonus - is that 20-30% of the base of a yearly basis (split into quarters) or is that 20-30% of base each quarter?

    You are probably going to answer a lot of these questions on your next interview. but thought i'd just ask anyway.

  • In reply to Ruskii
    Nefarious-'s picture

    Ruskii:
    Good Interview,

    Can you talk a little bit about how you landed your first strategy gig? I'm guessing it was based on fit, or did you have some kind of experience that you leveraged?

    It was almost entirely fit. Finance and formulas can be learned. Strategy takes a certain way of thinking and an ability to create and maintain relationships with internal and external customers. I showed my value and what I could offer and was fortunate to have someone believe in me and see that value.

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to Nefarious-
    Febreeze's picture

    Nefarious-:
    Febreeze:
    great insights.

    since you probably can't talk about projects you've worked on with your current company (if you can then please do,) can you share some experiences you had at the tech company you started out with? maybe, an outline of how you guys went through a project.

    Because of the size of my company we tend to view acquisitions the same way ABInbev would. We wait for smaller, regional guys to make moves or do something truly innovative or win a big contract, and then we buy them. Pretty simple process, actually. Of course we like to keep our targets in line with our global and divisional strategies and goals. As I talked about earlier, the Ground & Armament sector is taking a bit of a hit right now so it is a sector we are staying away from (in terms of expanding).

    My original strat job was at a very small tech company in NY that had maybe 100 employees, 80 of which were dedicated salesmen. The other 20 were executive staff, admin, finance and the strat team. I was fairly fortunate to get into this group as a guy right out of college, but I might personal connections with the group and sold myself, not only on my abilities to do the job and perform, but also showing I would be a pleasure to work with each day.

    During my time there we do one acquisition. It was for a local competitor and it was the first one the company had done. It was a new experience to the executive team and the strat team. We basically identified the company we wanted, got together with finance and our attorneys to assist with due diligence and came up with a valuation of the business that included looking at the past five years of sales to check for growth (positive growth each year, sales increase more each year), checking their debt (zero debt) and checking their income statement, balance sheet, etc - the main thing we looked for was to see if they were cash flow positive. We basically took all of that, looked at their current client base and possible pipeline and put a multiple together. It was a good target because it eliminated competition in the area, grew our client base and helped grow the company.

    I hope this answered your question.

    This is absolutely great stuff, man. Thanks.

  • In reply to chron3k
    Nefarious-'s picture

    chron3k:
    Similar to moneymogul, I'm interest in how comp is, and how it progresses as you advance through the organization.

    As a consultant, I'm interested to see how industry comp compares to consulting comp across one's career.

    Another related question is the speed of progression (you've mentioned bureaucracy a number of times--is it a situation where you'll need someone to retire/move on/etc. for a spot to open up so that you can advance?).

    I replied to moneymogul above. Let me know if that didn't answer your question.

    Regarding moving around and advancement opportunities: The defense industry is very old guard and old blood. It is almost all about networking and getting in with the right people. I have seen peoples careers die for pissing off the wrong people - and I am not talking about getting fired, I am talking about being transferred to the middle of nowhere arkansas where you can spend the rest of your career or quit.

    If you make the right connections and put in the time, transitions and promotions can be quick. I have seen Directors that are 28 years old and I have seen Directors that are 60 years old. It is all about the network.

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to expenseaccounts
    Nefarious-'s picture

    expenseaccounts:
    Enjoy your little windowed office at Division Corp Strat, your 50 hour weeks and those awesome Corporate-level Strat "networking opportunities."

    I'll be putting in 90, talking fantasy football and divesting a quarter of your businesses over sushi with your CEO.

    "Breaking into" business level strat? Terri Schiavo could stroll into that gig.

    Let's see them silver bananas.

    I am sorry about your job at McDonalds.

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to is-t
    Nefarious-'s picture

    is-t:
    good interview. but the chip on the shoulder is a little bit unbearable.

    Not sure what this means.

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to Downeasta
    Nefarious-'s picture

    Downeasta:
    Nefarious-:
    Febreeze:
    the straight-razor guy?

    good interview dude.

    You should give it a try

    Also a straight razor guy. Do it Breezy, you won't go back. If you're concerned about price, try getting a "shavette", which is basically a straight razor with disposable blades. It's around $20. Poka tovarisch

    This guy knows whats up.

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to Febreeze
    Nefarious-'s picture

    Febreeze:
    lol. if i get a job, ill go to fuckin art of shaving for all i care. til then, i'm ticking to electric.

    damn dude, you might as well take a cheese grater to your face

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to expenseaccounts
    Febreeze's picture

    expenseaccounts:
    ...

    Ah, my favorite - the exasperated mediocrity response. It's hard to fathom that the real thing really exists, doesn't it?

    lol, bro you're talking shit while gloating about drinking watered down vodka...

    stop.

  • In reply to F. Ro Jo
    Nefarious-'s picture

    F. Ro Jo:
    What's the relationship between your team and strategy consultants? Antagonistic? Collaborative?

    Can you expand on this? Do you mean bringing in outside consultants to work on certain projects? My strategy team does not do this. Consultants are bloated costs that we avoid. Typically my company only deals with consultants when it comes to IT projects like ERP implementation or Hyperion Implementation, stuff like that.

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to expenseaccounts
    Nefarious-'s picture

    expenseaccounts:
    Nefarious-:
    moneymogul:
    Awesome interview coming from another Tony Stark aspirant, although I wonder if business is the correct route.

    Couple questions:

    1) If you don't mind, what is the pay like? And progression?
    2) What are your long term goals?

    Pay is very fair - the company goes on pay-grades. For example, an entry level analyst would be a grade 8, a senior analyst would be a grade 10 and so on. We try to keep pay fairly close to the recommended mid range set forth by HR; however, our group pays a little on the higher end.

    Our analysts tend to make 70k with performance bonuses and other bonuses throughout the year. My position is between 85-115k with typical year end bonuses in the 10-25% range. Once you start getting into the Director/VP range is when you really start balling. I believe my Director receives a base of 225K and receives quarterly bonuses ranging from 20-30%. I know these numbers might be a little jaw dropping for some of you to see, but the defense industry has probably been the most lucrative industry in the US for quite some time. I am sure you can appreciate why everyone is against the budget cuts.

    Now I think I ACTUALLY speak for everybody here when I say nobody's jaws are going to be dropping at 225K. That's it? Directors are what - like mid 30s? You can get brain damage from a motorcycle accident and still be making that when you're 24 in PE. In your mid-30s you could be making 1M+ a year in consulting, 2M+ in banking, 3-5M+ in PE.

    $225K BASE for someone in their early 30s with FOUR quarterly bonuses a year between 20-30% of base would equal $405k on the low end $495 on the high end.

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to Ruskii
    Accrual Dictator's picture

    Good Interview,

    Can you talk a little bit about how you landed your first strategy gig? I'm guessing it was based on fit, or did you have some kind of experience that you leveraged?

    I'm also curious about this. Especially coming from a non-target, it seems like it'd be really tough to land a strategy gig, so do you have tips for someone looking to get in especially from a school that doesn't get a ton of recruiting?

    Also, to expand upon that question a little bit, if someone is positive that he or she wants to get into corp strat/corp dev, do you think your path of aiming for those roles right away, or would it make life a lot easier to start in M&A/consulting and then transition?

    Thanks for the interview!

    EDIT: Sorry, I didn't see that you already answered this question. If you wouldn't mind expanding upon my part of the post, it'd be much appreciated!

  • In reply to OMS
    Nefarious-'s picture

    OMS:
    Nefarious-:
    Thanks guys. I hope some of you find value in this series.

    I will be around to field any questions some of you may have.

    +! brah.

    how long does it take to make director from senior analyst/manager? 225k base and 20-30% quarterly bonus - is that 20-30% of the base of a yearly basis (split into quarters) or is that 20-30% of base each quarter?

    You are probably going to answer a lot of these questions on your next interview. but thought i'd just ask anyway.

    I answered progression earlier - really depends on your connections and your ability to add value. If you are willing to hop around in the country and get exposure to other divisions that helps as well and will expedite your path to corporate.

    20-30% quarterly is based on annual base.

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to expenseaccounts
    Nefarious-'s picture

    expenseaccounts:
    Nefarious-:
    Febreeze:
    great insights.

    since you probably can't talk about projects you've worked on with your current company (if you can then please do,) can you share some experiences you had at the tech company you started out with? maybe, an outline of how you guys went through a project.

    During my time there we do one acquisition. It was for a local competitor and it was the first one the company had done. It was a new experience to the executive team and the strat team. We basically identified the company we wanted, got together with finance and our attorneys to assist with due diligence and came up with a valuation of the business that included looking at the past five years of sales to check for growth (positive growth each year, sales increase more each year), checking their debt (zero debt) and checking their income statement, balance sheet, etc - the main thing we looked for was to see if they were cash flow positive. We basically took all of that, looked at their current client base and possible pipeline and put a multiple together. It was a good target because it eliminated competition in the area, grew our client base and helped grow the company.

    I hope this answered your question.

    Two things here:
    1. Febreeze here is happy whenever somebody with a job speaks to him. There's another Corporate Development thread that you can search for with similar content.

    2. That due diligence you described sounds about as complicated as running a lemonade stand. I'm serious - making sure it was making money each year, check, no debt, check, have clients, check.

    Why would there be any need to get into an overly complicated valuation and due diligence process on a target that was worth about 10 million, especially when it was a brand new experience for the acquiring company?

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to Accrual Dictator
    Nefarious-'s picture

    Accrual Dictator:
    Good Interview,

    Can you talk a little bit about how you landed your first strategy gig? I'm guessing it was based on fit, or did you have some kind of experience that you leveraged?

    I'm also curious about this. Especially coming from a non-target, it seems like it'd be really tough to land a strategy gig, so do you have tips for someone looking to get in especially from a school that doesn't get a ton of recruiting?

    Also, to expand upon that question a little bit, if someone is positive that he or she wants to get into corp strat/corp dev, do you think your path of aiming for those roles right away, or would it make life a lot easier to start in M&A/consulting and then transition?

    Thanks for the interview!

    EDIT: Sorry, I didn't see that you already answered this question. If you wouldn't mind expanding upon my part of the post, it'd be much appreciated!

    First of all, I ditched any recruiting and career days being offered by my university. Because it wasn't a target, we got a bunch of shit companies like Enterprise. I sent out a ton of cold emails, utilized linkedin in and avoided applying online. I sent direct emails either regarding open positions or inquiring about open positions. I always asked for advice on what they would do if they were in my position looking to get into one of these roles.

    There are companies that hire entry level strategy analysts with the intention of molding them from the ground up and giving them the proper career development to be an eventual leader in the company.

    Outside of that, I would look into getting technical experience and front office experience. I have seen people with finance and BD experience do quite well.

    You're born, you take shit. You get out in the world, you take more shit. You climb a little higher, you take less shit. Till one day you're up in the rarefied atmosphere and you've forgotten what shit even looks like. Welcome to the layer cake, son.

  • In reply to expenseaccounts
    Febreeze's picture

    expenseaccounts:
    Febreeze:
    expenseaccounts:
    ...

    Ah, my favorite - the exasperated mediocrity response. It's hard to fathom that the real thing really exists, doesn't it?

    lol, bro you're talking shit while gloating about drinking watered down vodka...

    stop.

    Watered down vodka? I was talking hot sake -- have some class. You must wear square toed shoes too.

    i've read through the other threads. they didn't include perspectives from this industry.

    hot sake tastes like a poland springs left in my car during a hot day, i don't care who's drinking it.

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