Am I biting off more than I can chew?

Will probably have to delete this to maintain anonymity, but really need guidance from any WSO members that may have experience with situations similar to mine. I'm concerned that I may be heading for a pretty serious reality check.

For context, my current role is somewhat of a cakewalk for me. I'm an analyst at (redacted). I spend most of my time running typical PE analyst processes like modeling out LBOs, compiling research for new opps, and redlining legal docs. The thing is, given that we're (redacted), my hours are shockingly easy and the standards aren't terribly high. There really isn't any need for busy work, (redacted), etc., nobody cares about facetime, and the work that is expected of me typically has no precedents.

I hold my work to traditional banking/PE standards and I'm often told I put more pressure on myself than needed. Frankly, I've worried that I'll stagnate in this environment or struggle to lateral in the future if needed - despite getting very unique experience, e.g., tons of room to take responsibility on deals, direct exposure to impressive people / management teams, extremely unique deals / deal structures.

Anyway, my situation is as follows: a former senior member reached out to me privately and asked to meet. I agreed and, essentially, he told me that he's now working for a larger multinational corporation ($20bn+ EV) in a space adjacent to ours. They want to start engaging in M&A (which they somehow don't have a ton of history doing), and he's been given the go-ahead to build the appropriate team. From what I gathered, he's asking me if I can head this up with him. Sounds like I'd be spending a lot of time thinking about strategy, building research & opinion decks on targets, and pulling a lot of weight on deal structuring / negotiation.

Cons: I'm young. I've only been out of undergrad for a few years and don't know this space nearly as well as he does. I think he recognizes this to some extent and wants me to support more on the ad hoc research / underwriting side of things once targets are identified. Even still, this seems like a significant increase in title and responsibility. I'm also worried about future career moves once I've officially gone 'corporate'. Last - I'm fairly certain that people typically think of a role like mine as the exit, and I'm a bit reluctant to return to a lifestyle / responsibility profile where stress could be approaching banking levels again.

Pros: Obviously this is an opportunity to take on a ton of responsibility for my age / experience level with very tangible impact that I can point to in post. Also, quote: "You'll be very well taken care of." Not sure what comp looks like for something like this, but I have to imagine it's enough to make me ditch the rosy lifestyle that he knows I've been living...

Would love to get your guys' thoughts on this. Am I going way too far? Or is this the sort of magical, rare opportunity that makes a young MD? Thanks to all in advance.

Standards for corporate M&A are (mostly) ridiculously low, also there is no secret sauce you learn in a BB bank that will seriously handicap you if you are lacking it. I would purely make the decision based on long term comp if I were you.

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The best opportunities - the real homeruns - are off the beaten path. Two words of advice:

1) When chatting to people that matter, never downplay how much you work. You can say the work is comfortable to you, but not that you’re really coasting.

People are conversative, and they intuitively don’t like people that seem to be cruising on a paycheck too hard.

2) Always be vague (“great comp”) to people that might hire you, or put you in touch with someone who might. That way, provided you interview like a top tier candidate, you can get a fat raise when you jump ship (1.5~2.5x).

If you just told me you make 100k and are wasting your potential, and I offer you 125 for something exciting, you have no grounds to push back. If you said 160k, you can negotiate for 200k.

This stuff compounds over your career, and your title and gravitas correlate with your comp, which in turn influences future comp. On a similar note, push for a good package early on if you really crushed interviews.

I always appreciate your perspectives when I see you commenting on other threads, so thank you for your comment.

Never considered that my risk tolerance might diminish with age... Candidly, by the end of my banking stint I was so worn out that I thought I would never be open to taking an 'uphill' gig again. That said, I quickly became bored (and anxious re: stagnation) and, now that something potentially exciting has fallen in my lap, I find myself itching for more...

There'll naturally be a lot of overlap between banking/PE and what you'll be doing. But there will also be an entrepreneurial element, where as an early person on the team, you'll have weight as your former MD develops the strategy. People who go "build" something have such differentiated backgrounds, it's like immediate credibility. The kinds of opportunities that'll come your way after this kind of stint will be incredible IMO. Plus you'll be the boss's guy. It'll be hard work, lots of grinding, admin, operations but you'll literally be building out a new strategic function for a multi billion dollar business. Like fuck, I'm excited for you.

One of the opportunities I regret not taking is to follow my MD into a new country to build out the franchise. The person who ended up doing it slogged it through for 3 years and now is a cushy c-suite at a sponsor Portco.

I also just noticed the $20bn EV part and I take back my risk tolerance comment lol. You're not going to a startup. I would seriously consider it. Even if its a haircut on comp, I think its worth the investment in yourself and your career. Just my 2 cents.

Appreciate the kind words man. I will leave it with I am a big fan of the cheesy mantra of "ask for forgiveness, not permission". You don't have to be ready for a role as long as you're willing to work smart/hard and grow into it. 

I left a cushy gig in consulting to help my former bosses build a new firm. It was the best 3 years of my entire career. Building is different than having a job. You have to think about everything, there is no playbook, and your decisions have legitimate (sometimes existential) impact. I made the jump a few years after undergrad and it was 100% worth it. This kind of role is the ultimate accelerator for the right personality type. Because of that experience, an incredible exit opportunity in PE popped up and I took it.

This role will be de-risked in a lot of ways because it will be building out a new function in a large organization. That’s good and bad. You have infrastructure, and you don’t have to worry about setting up QuickBooks and an HRIS. It’s less of a true “build”. But you still have to turn nothing into something. It’s strategic work and those workshops with your boss + team (and potentially C-suite and execs at the company) will be hard to replicate elsewhere.

You should go for it!

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