A year ago I promised to do an AMA when I complete my first deal so here we are.
This is Asia experience so may not be applicable to North America, but why not?
Education: International student went to a Midwest non-target undergraduate program (BigTen but not Michigan/Northwestern)
Career: Returned to Asia, started off as an actuary (aka statistician/accountant in an insurance company).
Then joined Big 4 Consulting, not TS or CF so more like risk consulting, clients are still all insurance companies. Involved in 3-4 insurance M&A deals (DD phase only, not even client facing, 2-3 completed transactions including a USD 1b cross-border deal).
At age 30, with 8 years working exp, joined the CorpDev team in an insurance company. 95% of work is cross-border M&A. Leading a small M&A team including an ex- analyst and a financial analyst. Another 5% of work is on research, thought leadership, with a research analyst.
After a year of work, finally completed my first deal from end to end (sourcing - DD - negotiation - sign SPA). This is also the first cross-border deal the company has ever made.
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