Corp Dev to PE

Hi all. Long story short I had an IB role lined up for after I graduate, it was rescinded, and now I have a corporate development role at one of the largest power and utility companies. (edit: the corp dev team is a “pure” deal team. There is an entirely separate corporate strategy team. And going back the last 5 years we have completed 1-3 deals a year in the $200m-2b range).

I was wondering what you all think about doing 2-4 years of CD and then applying for PE roles? 

Some preliminary thoughts/additional context:

I know this is not a standard path but I haven’t really been able to figure out if that’s “just” because CD professionals generally don’t want to go into PE or if PE firms are the ones that are basically shutting the door. 

I also know that infra PE is a thing and, while I have no issue with doing that, I want to be in Chicago and I don’t know of many infra PE firms in Chicago. I figure mega funds probably wouldn’t give me the time of day which is fine. I would prefer MM anyways. Would it be smart to target PE firms that hire a lot of consultants since they have already shown they are more… willing to go outside the “standard” IB-PE path?

For reference, I majored in accounting and finance, I am a CPA (solely because I was able to sit for the exam, not because I hate myself enough to do accounting full-time), I am graduating law school in May which I went straight into from undergrad (aka my tolerance for self-harm is astronomical), and virtually all of my work experience (pt jobs/internships/this corp dev role) is finance related. 

Most Helpful

Hi !

I will give you my perspective given I sort of followed a similar path. For context, I worked for few years in IB (doing LevFin/debt advisory) for financial sponsors or big corporates in the infra/renewable space at a large European bank. I was given the opportunity to join a US BB for which I was super keen on given their creds and potential exit opps in PE. I went through the whole process with offer letter etc. but just before sending me the contract, the US BB rescinded due to cost cutting and hiring freeze in NYC. As you can imagine, pretty pissed and luckily did not follow their advice to resign ahead of signing (they wanted me to start asap). The US BB came back a couple of months later with a solid offer but told them to f**k off. They literally tried everything to bring me back (flying me to NYC to meet very senior people, generous sign-in, guaranteed bonus etc.). I was highly upset with banking life and behaviours so I decided to explore something different, corporate development and got an offer in a listed North America utilities with significant operations in the renewable space. My role was basically doing M&A, financing etc... On paper it looked great but after 6-9 months I started realising I would not stay very long. It was highly bureaucratic, our cost of capital was quite high so we lost a lot of deals (did a couple of landmark deals nonetheless and a couple of small ones), I was in a satellite office in Europe with HQ in North America so had to ask permission for absolutely everything. 

After 9 months I started looking for a new job and I am not gonna lie, it was tough even with an IB background. 95% of the HH discount your profile because you jumped the IB ship for corp dev so the first hurdle is to get your foot in the door with those guys. I sort of took a step back and wondered whether it would not be preferable to go back for a stunt in IB so I got in touch with all the usual European HH covering IB. It took me time to build some form of relationship with them but even with 3 years+ experience in IB, most of the time you will hear back "We prefer IB profile". At some point, I got few itw but even during them I was grilled on why I want to go back to IB and whether I was ready to pull the hours (well obviously yes if I applied). I started getting traction with a number of IBs and few LMM funds. After 18 months in my corp dev role, I landed a role in a MM infra funds with which I used to advise back in banking and I have been with them since.

Bottom line is that going in Corp Dev to land a PE role few years after is going to be very hard and if this is the path you want to choose, it will require a lot of networking, ton of interviews and you will go through huge amount of disappointment. Nonetheless, it is posssible but you will find most likely closed doors with a vast majority of MF or UMM funds that don't usually bother with those profiles given the choice they have in the IB pools.

Good luck with your choice :)

Have 3.5 years of IB experience, 1 year of LMM PE experience, 1 year if start up experience as chief of staff to CEO, and currently doing corp dev for a listed global renewable power company. Started 5 months ago. I'm MBA grad of CBS and prior to MBA worked as an analyst in IB for 3 years and one year as a chief of staff. Want to pivot to UMM or LMM PE in a couple of years. Would it be tough? There are many guys with PE/IB background at my company 

Interested as well. I think it’s usually both, corp dev guys not wanting to leave and PE firms not being super interested. I think it also depends what you do in Corp Dev. If you’re at a sponsor portco doing 4 add-ons a year your experience is much more relevant to PE than being at a public company doing strategy work with the occasional deal every few years and having a buyside banker involved.

You bring up a good point that I definitely should have highlighted. For this role at least, the corp dev team is a “pure” deal role. There is an entirely separate corporate strategy team. And going back the last 5 years we have completed 1-3 deals a year in the $200m-2b range.

But yeah. I can definitely see how a non-“pure deal” CD role would definitely put one even more behind the eight ball. 

Chicago infra funds: Ullico, Harrison Street, Alllstate(insurance co) Investments, Magnetar Capital (tiny group)

Infra funds are much more open to non-traditional backgrounds but still require multiple solid deal reps. Path of least resistance would be a year in corp dev, then pivot to analyst in IB, then PE. But, corp dev to PE is possible in the infra space if you try hard enough.

Sit voluptatibus maxime eum inventore est autem quidem. Quidem possimus maiores eum minus aut molestiae aut. Quod et doloribus vel dolorum velit voluptatem quo. Velit omnis numquam repellendus qui. Vel assumenda ad explicabo beatae provident. Est ea sint sit est.

Iure quos adipisci doloribus cum a est qui et. Quam quae amet ut possimus excepturi quia.

Totam vero rerum debitis consequatur optio. Ipsa qui harum aliquid a quasi et ut molestias. Ipsum nemo alias numquam ea at sit consequatur.

Career Advancement Opportunities

September 2023 Private Equity

  • The Riverside Company 99.5%
  • Warburg Pincus 98.9%
  • Blackstone Group 98.4%
  • KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) 97.9%
  • Bain Capital 97.4%

Overall Employee Satisfaction

September 2023 Private Equity

  • The Riverside Company 99.5%
  • Blackstone Group 98.9%
  • Ardian 98.4%
  • KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) 97.9%
  • Bain Capital 97.4%

Professional Growth Opportunities

September 2023 Private Equity

  • The Riverside Company 99.5%
  • Bain Capital 98.9%
  • Warburg Pincus 98.4%
  • Blackstone Group 97.9%
  • KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) 97.4%

Total Avg Compensation

September 2023 Private Equity

  • Principal (8) $676
  • Director/MD (22) $599
  • Vice President (87) $363
  • 3rd+ Year Associate (87) $277
  • 2nd Year Associate (196) $266
  • 1st Year Associate (376) $227
  • 3rd+ Year Analyst (28) $157
  • 2nd Year Analyst (80) $133
  • 1st Year Analyst (236) $121
  • Intern/Summer Associate (31) $81
  • Intern/Summer Analyst (304) $59
16 IB Interviews Notes

“... there’s no excuse to not take advantage of the resources out there available to you. Best value for your $ are the...”

From 10 rejections to 1 dream investment banking internship

“... I believe it was the single biggest reason why I ended up with an offer...”