MBA > Growth Equity without prior investing experience

Interested in making the jump to Growth Equity but don't have prior investing experience. Spent a few years in banking and a few years in tech (strategic finance).

If I were to get into HBS/GSB, how much would a lack of prior investing experience impact recruiting? Obviously the goal would be to recruit for top firms like Insight Partners and Summit Partners, but I understand this would be extremely difficult. How about lower-tiered firms?

Would I be better off recruiting for something else for post-MBA, then recruiting for Growth Equity after that? I've seen a number of MBB consultants make the switch to Growth Equity. If I were to pursue consulting, would it make more sense to focus on tech projects or PE if the end goal was Growth Equity?


If you get into specifically HBS or GSB, they'll look past what you don't know and train you. This goes for any top 10 MBA program. These schools carry themselves as producing the next Phil Knight. With how small the world has gotten, there candidate pools include Rhode Scholars, Marshall Prize winners, chess grandmasters, etc.

Recruiters know this and will give you leeway.

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This is entirely incorrect. All buyside roles, VC, GE, and PE are very difficult to get into post MBA if you don't have experience prior. At a high level, most post-MBA roles are Senior Associate if not VP level roles, which means you need at least a few deals under your belt and you're ideally able to lead deals from end to end. The problem is that by never doing this, you really don't have the experience necessary to step into these roles. While I'm sure you're a fast learner, as is everyone at the top B-schools, the amount of supply for these roles is so great, that it really does't make sense for a firm, especially a good one like Summit/TA to take a chance on someone without the requisite experience, when they could easily pick from the dozens of your B-School classmates that spent 2+ years in similar roles. 

Now, with all that being said, it's not impossible to get a seat and H/S will give you a slightly better chance than the rest of the M7, but if I were you I'd:

  • Delay B school and try and get into an associate program at these firms prior to school.
  • Be reasonable with your expectations of the size/type of firm you end up at immediate post B school. Summit/TA might be out of reach for the first role. Set your sights on more MM firms. These tend to be much better landing spots for career changers into PE.
  • Chart a plan to intern during the year during your b school experience so that you can pick up enough experience to have some credibility by the time recruiting roles around in your 2nd year. Certain schools have programs that allow you to do this, which I think is extremely helpful for those trying to gain some experience while in B school.

Good luck with it, it's not quite as impossible as people think, but you need to make a plan an apply yourself for the full two years at B school. 


I'd respectfully disagree with HJ. PE recruiting (buyouts or growth equity) is notoriously cut-throat for post-MBAs, as even at top schools, you're competing for limited spots (and typically against classmates with prior PE experience).

The most likely paths to PE (in order of difficulty are):

  • Recruit directly out of banking or MBB
  • Recruit out of top MBA with prior banking or MBB experience
  • Recruit out of top MBA without prior banking or MBB experience
  • Recruit after MBA (i.e., pursue MBB or banking or tech after MBA and then try to get into PE) (definitely discourage, very low odds of success)

Have you actually gone to business school yet? If not, you might be better off trying to recruit for PE off-cycle and leveraging your banking background and a strong story/interest in investing, what you've learned in tech, etc. Conversely, once you get to business school, it's not impossible but definitely challenging to land a PE job without prior experience, no matter the school. Sorry to be negative but hopefully helpful.


Granted someone could get into HSW, how feasible would Growth Equity recruiting be for an individual with strictly ER experience, albeit at a top group. 


Pretty unlikely. Your only shot would be at a small firm. Like the above answer says, you'd come in at a senior enough level that you'd need experience quarterbacking deals, and ER is just a completely different skillset. These answers are to a guy with a few years of relevant banking experience too - your best path is to go to IB (easy to do) or PE (hard to do) first. There's just too many people with directly applicable PE experience for them to spend time training the deal process at senior associate+ level.


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