How PE firms view Wharton vs. other business schools

Most of them hate Wharton people because, in one partner's words, "these kids have the terrible mix of being pretentious douchebags and kiss-asses. I recently spoke with a few friends who are partners at various major PE firms about business schools. One went to HBS, one to Stanford, one to Booth, and each of them trashed Wharton. One went so far as saying that he would never hire someone from there into his group (Sorry if you're trying to do this group at KKR/Blackstone/Carlyle). I think they might have been exaggerating slightly but wanted to hear what people think about the street view on Wharton kids. 

Comments (33)

  • VP in PE - LBOs
May 5, 2022 - 8:29pm

That's pretty funny. I'd think most don't generalize across an entire specific school but maybe you're right. I have seen folks who prefer laterals and others who prefer MBAs, but haven't heard much on specific school disdain. I wouldn't overthink it; people have different biases about everything.

  • Investment Analyst in HF - EquityHedge
May 5, 2022 - 9:51pm

Wharton undergrad may be the worst school to recruit from nowadays if you're non diverse

  • Analyst 2 in IB - Gen
May 6, 2022 - 1:20am

This is such a laughably bad take and i didnt even go to wharton

  • Investment Analyst in HF - Other
May 6, 2022 - 1:27am

from another comment: "I would argue that recruiting for the BBs/EBs from Wharton as a nondiverse candidate would put you at a disadvantage than if you had recruited from targets like Notre Dame or Georgetown, as there are a set number of spots available for each school. Citi, for example, had 7 spots for IBD at Wharton. You could guess 4 went to diversity (60-70% of a class are diverse nowadays) and 1 was a nepotism hire. That leaves 350+ Wharton hardos gunning for 2 spots. Also, your personality shown through your networking and interviews matters so much more than what school you attend. Wharton kids aren't known for having pleasant personalities. I have two friends at Wharton who are still recruiting and are about to strike out."

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  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
May 6, 2022 - 4:36pm

Lmao what is this shit. A lot of Wharton people suck, but that's because they just suck, not because they went to Wharton. Have you met people from HBS? They're also stuck up as shit and fucking suck. And Stanford? Don't get me started on their bullshit disruption nonsense and endless LinkedIn presence.

My point is that Type A people generally suck to be around, and you have to meet people at these schools to get a feel. The only real perception difference between Wharton vs. H/S is that Wharton is like a half tier lower. 

No idea why the Booth guy was ripping on W though, lmao...

  • Analyst 2 in PE - Other
May 9, 2022 - 4:30pm

Obviously they don't suck because they went to Wharton and that was said nowhere. Wharton attracts more people that suck compared to other schools. HBS is pretentious too but the people there are generally there more on their merits than at Wharton.

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
May 11, 2022 - 10:38am

I'm personally calling cap on that bro. I've met a lot of people from all 3, and they all blow equally. I can see a world where ppl might dislike W a lot more because you see a lot more W in IB as post-MBA associates, and way less H/S (so you get skewed sample size). I promise you, get an equal number of all in a room and you'll hate a very similar proportion of them.

All three "attract" the same exact shitty people with shit personalities, the ones at W just didn't get into H/S. It's not much more complicated than that imo.

  • Analyst 2 in PE - Other
May 9, 2022 - 4:32pm

I'll upgrade your "Type A people" to "All people"

Also Wharton is closer to booth than it is to Harvard or Stanford

  • Intern in IB - Gen
May 7, 2022 - 10:00pm

Fellow non-target here. I will permanently resent a lot of the target kids I've met purely for their sense of entitlement and superiority complex. I can't stand people who have never worked for anything in their lives expecting the red carpet rolled out for them.

  • Consultant in Consulting
May 7, 2022 - 11:29pm

This post is about MBAs, not undergrads. Pretty big difference in student quality between the two

May 9, 2022 - 11:56am
kindheartedconsultant, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I dunno, one of my favorite supervisors at my MBB was a Wharton MBA grad, and he was genuinely kind, helped me learn a lot, and was the kind of guy that I'd work for again if given the opportunity. Maybe its a consulting thing though, I just haven't had bad experiences with Wharton guys. 

Remember, always be kind-hearted.
  • Analyst 2 in PE - Other
May 9, 2022 - 4:25pm

I think that Wharton compared to all other schools is more filled with people who go places because of who their parents are and the money they have. Also laughed at the comment that said Wharton kids are hired because they know how to do a dcf and stuff like that already. That is not special to Wharton and all target school kids (and many non-targets) will have the same knowledge

  • Principal in PE - LBOs
May 10, 2022 - 11:42am

Your characterization is either complete bullshit or your co-workers have a huge complex.

Depends on the PE firm. For mega cap PE, it is HBS or Stanford. Everything else is viewed as sub-standard. Wharton is fine. Kind of tolerated I guess I'd say.

Outside of mega cap/top tier PE, Wharton is great. You see it all over.

Booth less so, but still see it.

TLDR: MF PE splits the world into 2 buckets. H/S and community college. Wharton is a bit of a tweener.

All other PE: H/S/W all fine. Booth is to MBA as Cornell is to UG. Well represented, but not exactly a peacock feather to flaunt or resume gold plating.

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
May 10, 2022 - 6:06pm

Know a lot of Associates that could easily lateral to career track role/could get the direct promote, go to W. Their reasons weren't career-related, but experience-related. Some go back to PE after 2 years of fun/exploration, others do something else after. Feels like it's a "no-lose" decision so long as ppl realize what they're getting into…

May 10, 2022 - 7:54pm
CompBanker, what's your opinion? Comment below:

A bit of a strange thread here. Overall, I disagree with the headline (how PE firms view Wharton vs. other business schools). PE firms do NOT have a universal, shared opinion on students from Wharton or any other school. Opinions about schools and the caliber of their students is incredibly personal and rarely consistent across entire firms. Yes, stereotypes exist, but that does not mean an entire collection of professionals have blacklisted Wharton grads from their firms.

Remember, reputation changes over time. 20 years ago UChicago's MBA students were known as quantitative geeks who lacked social skills. Any PE Partner above the age of 50 is going to have this reputation cemented in their mind as it was the prevailing reputation when they went to school themselves. A recent MBA grad is going to have a much different perception of the school than someone older.

On top of all this, I worked with a ton of HBS / Wharton / Booth / Kellogg / MIT (and to a degree Stanford) grads. We all poked fun at each others' schools as well as our own schools, but in the end there was always a lot of respect.

To the OP: What was the context of your conversation with these Partners at major PE firms? Also, how did you make friends with such accomplished people as an analyst?

Mentorship with CompBanker:

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  • Analyst 1 in PE - Other
May 11, 2022 - 12:39pm

OP here 

The context was a discussion on business schools as I thought through where to go and if I should go at all. As for how I know those people: I grew up in NYC so those are just a few of my family friends or parents of friends that I have become close to throughout my time in finance – common to most people from NYC.

  • Analyst 2 in PE - Other
May 11, 2022 - 12:42pm

All high-level banks/PE/Consulting/everything people send their kids to the same schools in NYC

  • Analyst 2 in PE - Other
May 11, 2022 - 12:48pm

You said people do not have a universal view on Wharton or other schools and then right away went into discussing a universal view on Uchicago from years ago. Clearly, universal views do exist. 

  • Associate 2 in PE - LBOs
May 11, 2022 - 2:44am

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