Next Roles after Corp Dev

Not sure if this has been discussed on this forum before, so apologies in advance if this beating a dead horse.

Currently a Sr. Associate in Corp Dev (not NYC / SF, so a tier 2 city). Background is not traditional route via IB/PE. Very short stint in consulting and then strategic finance before jumping into the Corp Dev role with total experience at about 4 years. I'd like to continue to stay in Corp Dev long-term as I very much enjoy the role and the work that we do, but definitely looking to get out of the area and into a different industry at some point. Curious to get other thoughts on the below.

Would it make sense to get an MBA -> IB for 2-3 years and jump back into Corp Dev or try to continue to climb from current role into Manager?

Rationale for an MBA being your typical, canned reasons - network expansion, broader support, leadership development, and then getting into a client facing role post grad (IB) to sharpen up modeling and professional skills. Also, I did not graduate from a top / good school if that changes the equation.

Appreciate any candid feedback here, especially if there are any other professionals who have gone through the same thought process.

Comments (19)

  • Analyst 2 in CorpDev

I have the exact same question and a very similar background.

Non-traditional background (Not IB), and currently on the path to manager. Do you want to stay in Corp Dev? If so, lateral to another shop/industry if you would like to experience something different. If not, the most cost effective way which is what I am considering is to go back to the IB via banks you've worked with in Corp Dev. 

MM PE and pensions are also optional if you can nail your technical.

For me, the upward mobility is small (not much you can do in a team of 4) hence what would be the next step after manager>

jjc234, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for the feedback and great to see someone in the same boat.

The IBs that we tend to work with are very niche industry coverage groups from top MMs to really small, boutique shops vs. Bulges. Having worked with these banks extensively, I genuinely prefer the caliber and quality of work I've seen from BBs and would certainly like to start there if I were to make the move to BB (hence the consideration of an MBA). 

Not really interested in financial sponsors / alternative investments. Are you planning to make a lateral move into a manager role or grow organically into it at your current org?

  • 1
  • Analyst 2 in CorpDev

Corp Dev Manager roles are less attractive to me personally. Not sure why would you do MBA just to end up exactly where you can be if you keep your head down and work for 2-3 years... The opportunity cost is quite significant and there is virtually no incremental benefit to your career. If you want to do IB, acquire an MBA then stay in IB. Otherwise, you might want to consider lateral to another firm and continue doing Corp Dev

Long Only Funds, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Go for an MBA and then a BB, grind there for a few years and weigh some options there. Is your company a tech company? then, you'll very easily get into TMT groups of BBs and EBs. Your exit opps to Big Tech will be massive once you work for BB TMT group. From there, you'll have a chance to get into MM PE (possibly tech focused), or Big Tech corp dev or stretegy ops where the upward trajectory might be limited, but once you're in a huge corporation there are many internal opps. Quite many people make the jump from strategy opps to Product roles in Tech, so it makes perfect sense for you to go to MBA. Good luck.

  • 1
  • Intern in IB - Cov

Not OP, but definitely interested in your thoughts. He does seem like a solid top MBA candidate with 4 YOE, but I was curious if you think if he could skip the MBA if he desired. For ex: lateral to MM IB TMT then BB IB TMT. After that, he could pursue corp dev in Big Tech and possible internal role switches after that.

Seems like a switch to LMM/ MM IB is very doable and much more cost effective. He doesn't seem to have any investing experience or interest in PE, and I think he could improve his exits with a non-MBA switch into IB. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Sil, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Have you stepped back and really considered the long-term expected return of an MBA for someone in your shoes? It's not even close to positive if you ask me. Two years of no pay plus the cost of the program itself make it easily a $500K+ endeavor. Will a top MBA increase you lifetime earnings by $500K+ (give or take depending on the time value of money)? Probably not. Have you tried applying to IB positions? I cannot see you having any difficulty getting an associate role.

Most Helpful
Klavin, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Agree with the sentiment of this post, but would push back a bit on the 500k opportunity cost. It could certainly get that high though depending on OP's spending habits and choice of program.

I graduated from my FT MBA program a couple of years ago, and back of the napkin math tells me that my opp. cost was ~275k. 2 years tuition + 2 years of lost earnings in my pre-MBA career. I don't factor in living expenses because I would have had to incur those costs anyways, and frankly, I moved to a lower COL area where my rent went down by ~$500/month, so I'm one of the lucky ones who reduced their basic living expenses by doing a FT MBA. This was probably offset by drinking way more during those 2 years, but I digress.

That being said, I was making ~75k all-in at my previous career. I am now at a F500 and just cleared >170k in base and bonus while working 30-40 hours/week. For my situation, it was a no-brainer. I also know that if I were making more than six-figures before matriculating, the opportunity cost would have risen significantly, and I probably would have felt compelled to pursue one of those higher burn IB/Consulting paths. All of this still doesn't factor in the value of expanding my professional network that I've already been able to tap for networking calls/references to new opportunities, should I decide to look elsewhere in the near future. But only OP can decide whether the intangible benefit of building that professional network is worth tangible opportunity cost of attendance.

Sourcing_CFA, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If your goal is to stay in corporate development then I wouldn't waste my time with IB or the MBA. Going CD -> MBA -> IB -> CD is close to a 5 year process, plus you have to pay for the MBA then endure some time in IB. Not worth it in my opinion.  

I would rather look for another CD opportunity at a different firm. Not sure what the current size of your firm is but if you are at a larger firm, move downstream to a smaller firm with more responsibility. Have you looked into sponsor backed businesses? They usually employ lean CD teams. 

  • 2
chris_rock_got_smacked, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I'm an intern in CorpDev, so take it with a grain of salt, but in our team we have 1 former banker, 1 future banker (that would be me), 1 recent grad straight into CorpDev and 1 lateralled internally from Finance. I share this because I think that there are so many ways to skin the cat, I think it depends more on references and networking. Keep doing what you're doing and spend some time doing research about the type of industry, location, company, team you want to work for at and with.

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Cov


  • 3
BoutiqueAsc, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Dolorum enim temporibus alias nobis. Accusamus voluptates sunt ea et. Sint qui libero sed iste sit.

Omnis molestiae voluptatibus qui temporibus culpa vero non. Voluptates est quos non reiciendis quia inventore. Repudiandae ad repellendus repudiandae odio culpa incidunt. Sit et ea aut adipisci. Et eaque iure eum omnis. Et pariatur aut quisquam et ut voluptatem ipsum ex.

Est consequatur fugiat qui pariatur. Doloribus cumque nesciunt sequi doloremque molestiae quis. Voluptatum quis et nihil sint et. Consequuntur et illo facere est modi. Eum molestiae error tenetur voluptate sit voluptatem excepturi.

Start Discussion

Career Advancement Opportunities

June 2023 Investment Banking

  • Lincoln International (▲01) 99.6%
  • Jefferies & Company (▽01) 99.1%
  • Financial Technology Partners (= =) 98.7%
  • William Blair (▲11) 98.2%
  • Lazard Freres (+ +) 97.8%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

June 2023 Investment Banking

  • William Blair (▲04) 99.5%
  • Lincoln International (▲11) 99.1%
  • Canaccord Genuity (▲18) 98.6%
  • Stephens Inc (▲12) 98.2%
  • Financial Technology Partners (▲09) 97.7%

Professional Growth Opportunities

June 2023 Investment Banking

  • Lincoln International (▲01) 99.5%
  • Financial Technology Partners (▲06) 99.1%
  • Jefferies & Company (▽02) 98.6%
  • Lazard Freres (▲15) 98.2%
  • UBS AG (▲19) 97.7%

Total Avg Compensation

June 2023 Investment Banking

  • Director/MD (6) $592
  • Vice President (32) $396
  • Associates (148) $260
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (11) $198
  • 1st Year Analyst (280) $170
  • 2nd Year Analyst (91) $170
  • Intern/Summer Associate (46) $166
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (206) $93