Goodbye JC100021, Hello Military_MBA_BankerPE
Hello WSO Members,
I recently changed my WSO handle from JC100021 to this. You might also notice I went from Gorilla to King Kong &overnight. Below is an explanation why, but I want to first state that my aim now is to help people looking to change careers through an MBA, especially military guys (though all walks of life welcome).
Long story short, I have been on WSO since early 2007, when it was "ibankingoasis.com." I raked up about 600 bananas, and then after feeling I may have lost my anonymity, made a completely random name "JC100021" to start fresh. My initials aren't JC, I literally hit the keyboard with my eyes closed and that is what came out.
When I first started using this site, I was a brand new officer in the military with no idea what banking or PE was. I found the site by Googling "how to get into investment banking"
I asked the site moderator to allow me to take my credits & bananas from my old account, and add them to my new account, and for certified user status because I felt I could contribute from my past experiences.
I grew up in NYC and came from a family of civil servants with no idea about finance or Wall Street. I thought my friend going to Wharton undergrad to study business was a sucker because being an entrepreneur was so risky (because obviously, business means starting your own business). I thought I was the shit for getting into Rose-Hulman and RPI for engineering, because that is where the money was (shows how little I knew in High School).
So I go to a U.S. Service Academy, get my commission as an officer in the military, and earn a degree in engineering.
Let me squash any notions you might have about me—I was not a grunt, a ground pounder, a trigger puller. I was not a SEAL, a Ranger, and PJ, or any type of Special Forces nut. Those guys are the real heroes. I spent my first 3 years sitting behind a desk managing weapons Research & Development. Don’t get me wrong, it was cool stuff, and got to travel to a lot of sites. I even earned a Masters Degree in engineering while working. I did a year in Iraq, but it was as an intelligence guy working in the main headquarters—more like a bank that one would think. Ironically, my deployment consisted of 120 hour weeks of making spreadsheets and slides, and printing 100-page handouts 20 minutes before a meeting and then having to switch the 37th page for 20 copies because my boss wanted to make a pen and ink change at the last minute. Meetings with the Generals were like pitches where the General was the CEO, the Colonels were MDs and I was an Associate keeping my mouth shut, even though I wrote all of the content. My enlisted who were there before I was were like Analysts who knew more than I did, but after 3-6 months I knew more about doing the job and the “big picture” than they did, and I was checking their work.
Rewind back to about 6 months after I graduated the Academy. I met an investment banker while sitting in an airport coming home from a contractor site. I thought he was a stock trader, because that is what they do on Wall Street, right? Well he gave me a quick dose of what bankers did—taking companies public, advising on mergers and acquisitions, managing LBOs for private equity investors. I realized that banking was about grinding out crazy hours and making a lot of money, and not nearly as risky as some other parts of the finance career fields. This lack of risk attracted me. I also liked that I could work in an industry group, and over 10 years or so make it to the SVP/MD level becoming an expert in that industry.
So, I looked into banking online and found this site. Then I learned about PE…..and how I probably was not going to get into it because I wasn’t informed in high school like my friend who went to Wharton. Oh well, what can you do. I still see myself trying for it but I am not holding my breath.
So, where were we…oh that’s right I am 6 months into a 5 year commitment in the military and I already know I want to do Investment Banking 4.5 years into the future. I was enrolled in a part-time MBA program at the time, and was sad about it, but WSO convinced me I needed a top MBA. I dropped the program, but I think the MBA primers I took in finance, accounting, management, and econ were very helpful later in the future when applying to top MBA programs.
At this time I planned my whole approach. I wanted to get into banking, and for that I needed a top MBA. My next 4 years were “Operation: Get accepted into a top MBA”. I had an uphill battle. I took the GMAT previously for the hell of it and scored a 480 (33rd percentile). My undergrad GPA was under a 3.0. I was not in the sexiest of military jobs, working with civilians and no soldiers reporting to me, when other guys had whole platoons/flights underneath them.
I had to kick ass in my job, do something to cover up my undergrad GPA, and rock the GMAT. I ended up getting a Masters in engineering while working full time, graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA, got a 720 GMAT score after 2 additional attempts (and months of painful preparation), and by getting my Masters in engineering combined with the MBA primers I took I was able to do better in my job as an engineering manager. I won professional awards and was the top ranked junior officer in my unit. This was all done just 2.5 years after I decided I wanted to be a banker. For those of you keeping up, I had 3 years in at this point.
Deciding I wanted to do something more meaningful, I volunteered for a deployment to Iraq. I thought “I need to escape the desk.” Joke was on me. I volunteered blindly for a job without know where, or what I would be doing. I ended up in headquarters pushing paper—just with the occasional rocket flying overhead.
So, I have my “transformational” experience in the sandbox while at the same time applying to business schools. I hired Stacy Blackman and went 2/4, dinged at HBS/Wharton and accepted to Booth/Columbia. I also got into Darden & NYU on my own. For many reasons previously stated on this site, I chose CBS. For reasons I won’t bore you with, I had to defer a year due to the military being unclear about my retention. Now I am finishing my time and about to start school in the fall.
This is a long time coming, but I am realizing a goal I have had for close to 5 years. I got a lot of advice and help from people on this site, and now rather than just asking questions, I want to start helping others in a similar position I was in.
So, PM me, reply to this post, whatever. I can talk about the military, engineering, GMAT prep, MBA applications, career changing, mapping out goal setting, and my recently discovered talent, networking like a motherfu*ker. I am not a consultant, I don’t want money, I just want to help…a Banana or two is always appreciated though ;)