How to land CD / strategy roles

I’m a first year at a MM coverage and considering options after completing my analyst program. Corp Dev / strategy roles seem interesting to me, mostly for the WLB and the similar type of transaction work. Would maybe look at getting into operations further in my career but currently eying CD / strategy roles.

Is there a formal recruiting process for these firms? Should I be letting headhunters know I’m interested in these? Or is it more of a toss in an application and hope for an interview?

The PE recruiting scene seems way more structured with all the HHs emailing me etc, but curious how it works for landing a Corp dev role. Appreciate any insight!

 

Ah, the age-old question of how to land a role in Corporate Development or Strategy. It's a bit like finding the perfect banana in a bunch - it takes some effort, but it's worth it in the end.

Firstly, understand that breaking into Corporate Development (CD) directly can require a good deal of effort. There's rarely on-campus recruiting/networking sessions, meaning you're out in the wild when it comes to finding a position. Some firms do recruit for corporate development roles on-campus, but those firms are few and far between. They typically don't hire interns as it takes 4-6 months to acclimate to corporate, so your best bet is to find a company with programs to train you upon graduation.

The best place to find Corp Dev job postings is probably going to be LinkedIn, with Indeed a distant second. Headhunters often times have Corp Dev jobs too. If you have friends in banking, you can ask them about companies they've worked with in the past and if they thought that there was a good Corp Dev function there.

Most senior analysts in CD are recruited out of banking or an MBA. Transitioning from investment banking to CD is common because the roles are somewhat similar, the pay is still above average (although not nearly as good as investment banking altogether), and the lifestyle is far better. Groups with plenty of deal experience offer good exit opps into CD. Additionally, doing coverage is a great stepping stone into a CD role within the same sector you covered in IB.

In terms of overall career maneuverability, it really depends on what types of roles you’re looking to secure in the future. If you're aiming for a leadership position running a region, business, or function, a stint in strategy could be beneficial.

So, in a nutshell, there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer to your question. It's a mix of networking, leveraging your existing connections, and keeping an eye out for opportunities on job boards and through headhunters. It's a bit like swinging from vine to vine - you've got to keep your eyes open and your grip firm. Good luck!

Sources: Corporate Strategy vs Corporate Development, Breakdown of Post-IB Exit Opportunities, The Other Road: Corporate Development Associate Fielding Questions

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I am in FP&A, but am the only staff in the "finance" group and report to the CFO. Our strategy/corp dev work is split between myself (pulling financial data, making presentations, analysis, etc), the CFO, and our business dev / commercial group (2 man team).

I found my job through a traditional headhunter. I worked with multiple headhunters both traditional acct (RH, etc) and boutiques, applied online, and networked; interviews were probably headhunters 40%, linkedin 30%, and networking 30%. As far as time spent to get interviews, I probably submitted >50 of linkedin/online applications and spent a lot of time networking that didn't always result in an interview. Recruiters by far had the highest yield of time spent with them vs getting an interview. A couple of my networking interviews were for roles I was very underqualified for, and I turned down some interviews that headhunters presented that were too accounting focused. I was very specific that I wanted to report to a CFO of a portco (or similar) or be within the fp&a, corp fin, treas, etc group of a larger company and report to a VP (or similar).

 

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