Comments (62)

Jan 7, 2020

What a typical career progression (along with comp) for an average performer and for a top performer?

Do you see significant differences based on industry?

    • 1
Most Helpful
Jan 8, 2020

For my group very dependent on when you enter the team. I'm one of only a few people who have started out of undergrad in recent years but for anyone the progression would be to stay in corporate strategy a few years and enter into the business as a product head, business unit strategist, or more of a niche role depending on interest and background. Comp is similar to consulting in out group so probably 80-90k all-in after undergrad, 150-200k in the few years post-MBA, and maybe 300-400k for someone who has 10-15 years of experience.

For someone like me who's more junior, the typical path is b-school or usually to a whole new industry. My past colleagues in my spot have gone into consulting, growth strategy in other industries or start-ups, and even in one case asset management (entry-level role).

There's not a ton of difference in comp for high vs. low performers which has been one of my biggest frustrations. For someone my level a top performer might get 25k bonus and a lower one might get 20k. At the more senior level it might look more like 100k vs. 80k but still not anything like IB/PE. However, you see the benefit in getting promoted faster still--a top performer might make MD-level by 30 but a lower one not until 35 or possibly not ever.

I'm sure it's slightly different across industries and more relevantly across individual firms but that's been my (admittedly narrow) experience.

    • 5
Jan 9, 2020

Just about your frustration - someone that is a low performer will be canned in a down turn and a top performer will not. Also if you have ambition to get a PnL responsibility one day being a top performer is the way to go.

    • 2
Jan 7, 2020

The standard wisdom seems to hold that the road to corporate strategy runs through consulting and--to a lesser extent--IB. I am curious as to whether or not you have encountered anyone who moved into strategy from a Corporate Banking background.

Thanks for the info!

Jan 8, 2020

I've actually only seen undergrad or consulting funnel into my group. I'm sure every firm does it differently but I'm not sure the transferable skills from corporate banking to strategy, unless the firm in question had corporate banking as a business unit.

We've had a few people interview for my group from corp dev/M&A backgrounds but my team's leadership has a preference for consulting/strategy backgrounds and they haven't landed the role. I've also heard of corporate strategy teams that higher mostly from IB so that part definitely varies by firm.

    • 2
Jan 8, 2020

As a data point, the last several exits from my Corporate Banking group have been into strategy/strategic finance at big tech companies.

Jan 17, 2020

As an Analyst in CB? And into what roles in strategy/strategic finance? Thanks.

Jan 8, 2020

So I am guessing you are a currently an associate. Without getting too detailed, what are your personal end-game career goals, Head of Strategy, CFO, CEO?

What do you think being in strategy does to help you get there? Considering a move to strategy myself so your insight is appreciated. Thank you in advance!

Jan 8, 2020

Essentially an associate, yes (though we use different titles) with potential to VP-level promotion in the next year. My goals are less typical as I probably want to pivot industries post-MBA to something like IB or hopefully AM/PE longer-term in some capacity. Most people in my role who are post-MBA or closer to MD level are typically interested in being CEO of a business longer term or at least a key P&L owner.

Strategy has helped me evaluate markets and businesses and frame problems like a consultant would. It's also given me broad understanding and expertise of my firm's industry and many adjacent industries. More than anything, it's gotten me comfortable advising and being around senior executives/the C-suite day to day and really speak their language, understanding their biggest challenges.

    • 3
Jan 12, 2020

You're being offered a VP spot at 27 in Corp strategy? How high up in the F500 are you? I'm at F10 and it's unprecedented to see even a director under 30 years old, and that's in Corp strategy, dev, ops, you name it.

Jan 8, 2020

I work in corp dev...even though I always found something appealing about strategy I could never quite picture what the day to day would like like.

Would be very useful if you could give an example of three recent projects you worked on, your role and what the day to day entailed.

Also salary for somebody at senior manager level would be useful.

    • 1
Jan 8, 2020

This answer will differ a ton across firms and levels but for me I'd bucket the projects into 3 groups:

  1. Broad strategic engagements with one business unit to shape their near term strategy including growth recommendations (organic and inorganic), productivity improvements, etc.
  2. More tactical projects for a business (e.g., a key competitor had a major acquisition and they need to decide how to respond/ramifications)
  3. True corporate-level strategic work typically for the board of directors--what has our performance been, how do we bridge the gap to where we need to be performing, what are our key initiatives as a firm and where should we be going in the next 3-5 years

My last three projects were two of the first variety and one of the third, each for 3-6 months. I'm usually working alongside a small team of 2-3 teammates, business unit heads, corporate finance, and sometimes external consultants/bankers to conduct market analysis, internal projections/financials, and make decks for managements. There are also tons of side things that pop up like the CFO asks for an analysis to be done, or a major client has come up to bid and the business wants strategy's perspective and approach.

Day to day is overall a mix of being in excel, ppt, and meetings. Honestly the %s vary a ton but some projects are 50/50 ppt/meetings, some are 70/20/10 excel/ppt/meetings, it just varies.

Comp for someone at a senior manager level would probably be 300k all in or so (maybe 200-220 base, 80-100 bonus).

    • 3
Jan 8, 2020

For that comp as a Sr Manager, how many years of experience is typical? Would most have MBAs?

Jan 8, 2020

What drew you to Corp. Strategy?

Jan 8, 2020

Honestly I hadn't done full due diligence on career paths my sophomore/junior years in undergrad and was somewhat blindly applying to roles in consulting, IB, and industry. This role seemed like a blend of a lot of those positions and unique for entry level, plus I really clicked with the team when I had a super day and they liked me. It was as much a fit questions during that as the actual function, and I loved the internship, got a FT offer, and have liked it ever since.

What's kept me is the exposure to senior management from a very young age, the people, and the work-life balance which is phenomenal given the work we're doing.

    • 2
Jan 8, 2020
  1. What are your hours like? Average per day and per week?
  2. Do you have to travel much? (Since you're at a F500 I assume there are multiple company locations)
  3. How large is the strategy team? And how is the hierarchy structured? What are project interactions like between different team members (analyst -> associate -> VP -> etc.)
  4. How is project staffing done?

Thanks!

Jan 8, 2020
  1. Hours are very reasonable which is one of the most fortunate parts. Average day is 8:00-6:30 with occasionally some work on weekends and infrequent days staying til 8 or 9pm (a couple times a year until 11 or midnight when there's a big deadline)
  2. Zero travel for me and maybe 1-2 times/year for mid-level folks, ~5-10 for the head of the group. We have many locations globally but most meetings are via phone or VC. It's one of the major reasons most of my group decided to switch from consulting.
  3. The team is ~10 people with a very middle-heavy structure. Almost everyone is a senior associate/VP level with 3 MDs, 6-7 at around a VP level, and me as the most junior resource. Most projects have an MD and 2-3 other people, usually 1 more senior VP and 1-2 of the most junior team members. The head of the group oversees all projects with check-ins 1-2 times per week.
  4. Project staffing is conducted by the head of the group with the MDs for a (typically) weekly staff meeting to assess capacity. Most of the time projects come out of major board/firm leadership meetings and trickle down to us, and may be staffed immediately by our group's head or at the staff meetings.

Hopefully this is helpful, happy to go into more detail on any aspect

    • 3
Jan 8, 2020

You mentioned above that your projects take 3-6 months typically. Genuinely curious how these projects take this long to complete. Seems like a cost cutting project or market expansion or competitor analysis would only take a week or two with 2-3 people. Could you elaborate a little bit on what these types of projects entail? I've never worked in corporate strategy before...genuine question I'm clearly missing something.

Jan 9, 2020

There is no "typical" project for us because every one is so nuanced, but most of our projects are more open-ended than just a market analysis (though they tend to be more like that than cost-cutting initiatives).

A week or two is pure ramp-up to understand the market, size components, see where the growth is. It can take a week, a couple weeks, or a month plus to identify where our business does well and where they might be outmatched by competitors. This could involve getting down to the client level and segmenting clients or analyzing each product more minutely.

Inevitably the executive who's sponsoring the project will ask for tons of ad-hoc analyses but we typically have check-ins once every two weeks with key stakeholders. We're often driving towards a robust 25-50 page deck for a major meeting with sections being stuff like market context, internal positioning/history/nuances of our firm, industry trends/M&A/news, and most critically lengthy detailed recommendations and next steps. Along the way the project may be put on the back burner since we're all usually working on 2-4 projects at once, some lengthier and some more like a 2-3 week engagement for ad-hoc support. Oftentimes a project could be completed in 2-3 months but drags on for 4 because of distractions or the simple fact the big Board meeting is 4 months from the start of the project and we'll fill the time with lower value-add analysis until that date to make sure the end product is the best it can be.

    • 2
Jan 12, 2020

How/ when do you guys measure the effectiveness of your recommendations?

  • Analyst 1 in CorpDev
Jan 8, 2020

I also started corp development directly out of undergrand (1.5 yrs of experience here). I'm not at a F500, but at an acquisitive private company

There's not many with our background and I'm just starting now to think about my next steps as I would also like to end up in PE. I could try to pivot into IB in my industry's coverage group and then make the move. Or try to go to Bschool->IB->PE as you mentioned

What has your experience been like when looking for other opportunities and coming from a non-traditional background? Do you see going into IB/Bschool first as a prerequisite to PE or VC? Also which types of Bschools would you be targeting?

Jan 9, 2020

Appreciate that we're both in a unique position. The recruiting game has been one of my greatest struggles professionally for many reasons.

For background, I didn't even consider another role until ~1.5 years in, and as I started to look around particularly at my friends who went IB>PE and some MBB>PE (knew many from both of these from undergrad), I did more due diligence on career paths. As I read up tons on PE, I realized it was my dream role and wanted to improve my chances there.

Unfortunately I also realized PE without IB or MBB is all but impossible, so I considered ways to get there. I interviewed around years 2-3.5 at a mix of 3 types of roles:
1. Investment banks, about 3 of which were top EB (think EVR, LAZ, Moelis, PJT) and a few very small 30-100 person firms. Got offers from the latter set by virtue of my resume/background (but no path from them to PE) but the EBs always went hard on technicals or I realized the groups didn't actually interest me as much as I thought (i.e., they were more support groups without a path to the buyside)
2. Investing roles in PE FoF, secondaries, and family offices. Got 3-4 offers from these places but saw no path to direct PE investing and comp was only a hair better than my current role but in NY with way higher CoL. Also saw they were worse feeders to top b-schools
3. Strategy roles at UMM PE shops. These roles were all top comp (close to PE associate level) and interesting work but no direct path to an investing role. I considered this role>MBA>PE investing could happen but very unlikely. I got an unbelievable offer recently to join a top UMM/MF in this role but turned it down to start the b-school process and hope for the best

Short answer--no, this role has not helped me towards PE. Ironically being at an LEK/ATK/OW would probably give me a better path to PE even though I genuinely feel my role is more challenging, difficult to secure, and applicable to PE. Recruiters and PE shops don't quite understand the role or how to rank it vs. more common roles.

I targeted M-7 b-schools and a couple 8-15. Got into 2 M-7 programs and will be attending one next year. Admitted to all the programs 8-15 I applied to with scholarship but I still don't see a direct path to PE unfortunately In hindsight I probably would have pushed hard around 2 years in to get a MM/EB IB role and then go into MM PE, or lateral to BB and go UMM PE. It would have taken until 5 years experience and I would've been 2-3 years behind peers, but the path to PE has all but closed at this point no matter how hard I push or learn about the field

    • 4
  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Jan 9, 2020

Tbf your job sounds more interesting than PE. The only reason I'd go for PE is the pay -> it's really much much harder to get promoted and building models ain't all that interesting.

    • 1
Jan 9, 2020

Would you mind elaborating a bit more on what a strategy role at a UMM PE shop is like and how that differs from the typical investing role?

Jan 10, 2020

What kinds of questions were you asked in your interview? Are there technical questions? Case studies? Any advice to best prepare for an interview would be so helpful.
What skills do you feel are most relevant, to highlight to an interviewer?
Thanks in advance!

Jan 11, 2020

Assume you mean at the PE shops and not corp strategy? If so it was mostly behavioral/asking about my job:

  • Describing my "story" (e.g., walk me through your resume)
  • Type of projects I've worked on in corp strategy and my role
  • How I've contributed on teams typically
  • Ideas for types of projects I might be able to contribute on at the PE firm
  • Very light testing of my understanding of how a PE shop operates
  • Questioning why I'm interested in the PE industry but not trying more for an investing role (which was tough because clearly I wanted the investing role but had to develop a reason)

Overall very few if any technical questions. In fact at one firm I had 4 one-hour interviews and two of them were the CEO/founder and CFO explaining to me for 30-40 minutes their vision for the firm and where my role would fit in, and 20-30 minutes of getting my reaction to that information/explaining why I would be interested given that detail.

    • 3
Jan 11, 2020

Oh and love the username lol

    • 1
Jan 12, 2020

Hmm, I was kind of asking about Corp Strategy interview questions - similar to what you listed for the PE shops?
Apologies for the misunderstanding - if you don't mind giving me a few bullets for CS, would be super.
Nice catch on re. the screen name - few get it! That has helped me get quite a few second interviews and offers ; )

Jan 11, 2020

Personally, what are you favorite parts about the job and what are your pet peeves. What's the shit that make you consider leaving the job and whats is it that makes you want to stay?

I tried.
    • 1
Jan 11, 2020

Favorites:

  • Getting to work on the highest profile projects in the firm that often are industry-shaping. Often very exciting
  • Typically working with very senior executives directly at a very young age, and they're genuinely trusting of my opinion
  • The hours and lack of travel--so much better than IB/consulting

Disadvantages:

*Gets a little monotonous working with one "client" for every project compared to IB/consulting

  • Not a real long-term career path so transition is less clear
  • External firms don't really understand exactly what I do; if I were to work in consulting the exit opps would be way clearer and more opps would come my way for doing mostly the same work
  • Very little on the job training relative to a formal analyst program because I'm the most junior team member by far
  • People throughout the firm sometimes put menial tasks on us because we're not hourly hires like a consulting firm, so work that isn't true "strategy" work is placed on us when it's not the most efficient use of our group (but this doesn't happen extremely often)
    • 4
Jan 12, 2020

Super helpful, thank you

Jan 13, 2020

Why the post-MBA goal of IB, rather than consulting (which seems more in line with your background)? I certainly understand the long-term goal of PE, but considering most post-MBA bankers stay in banking for the long haul, why the transition in skill set?

Jan 14, 2020

It's a totally valid point, and I concede my short-term goal may change (before or after I start). My general reasoning is that the projects that have excited me the most in my role have to do with M&A/divestitures, my strength is financial modeling and working with numbers, and I've always enjoyed the interactions I've had with external bankers. It's something I'd enjoy trying for at least a few years post-MBA if not for a whole career.

Generally MBAs are used to switch careers in some capacity, and I think the overlap with consulting right now would be 75% and banking 30-40%--I'll transfer tons of skills and have less of a steep learning curve than someone who's coming from say a product role at a startup/tech firm, but also be learning a lot of interesting things along the way. If you would have asked me a year ago I would've said likely consulting as a post-MBA role but as I thought it through during the application process IB began to make a little more sense to try.

    • 2
Jan 14, 2020

You may want to consider a specialized consulting shop like FTI Consulting, AlixParnters or Alavarez & Marsal as they focus on resturcturing, M&A, divestitures, etc. Work with companies, lenders, PE shops, etc. Seems like it would be in your sweet spot.

  • Intern in Other
Jan 16, 2020

I understand your company generally recruits from consulting, but what is your opinion on somebody in equity research (Buy side or sell side) trying to break into corporate strategy? I would assume that with a lot of specific industry knowledge you could be useful, but it seems like it may be more challenging to be noticed in the first place compared to IB/consulting given it is a less common background.

Jan 17, 2020

ER is very interesting to me as a path to corp strategy--I think a lot of the basis is there in evaluating businesses and knowing the drivers of growth, profitability, etc. It's actually a career my colleagues suggest I look into because I love reading analyst reports and have a knack for that type of analysis, so the overlap is significant. I haven't seen the move made, but that doesn't mean it can't be done especially if remaining in the same industry/moving to one of the firms you cover.

    • 1
Jan 17, 2020

I'm currently in Equity Research and doing some due diligence on different roles for post-MBA. Corp Strat/Corp Dev peaked my interest. I understand Corp Dev, but what is the day-to-day like in Corp Strat? When you work on these "projects," what are you typically working on and how does it differ from Corp Dev?

Jan 17, 2020

I've answered this with some of my other replies in depth--see particularly the one from Jan. 8 with someone asking more or less the same question. Broadly, strategy at our firm at least is focused on growth or product strategy for business units, very similar to a MBB-style consulting engagement. Corp dev is focused on potential M&A. The groups may interact but the roles are somewhat different.

Feb 7, 2020

I went into consulting straight out of undergrad, and am now headed to a top (HSW) MBA. I don't really want to go back to consulting afterwards, and am thinking of doing corp strat after graduation. Are people who do MBA -> corp strat disadvantaged in any way (slower trajectory, etc) than people who do MBA -> consulting -> corp strat? I imagine if you're entering corp strat as a post-MBA consultant, you'll come in at a higher level...

Feb 11, 2020

Congrats on the HSW offer!! I applied to 2/3 of those and got rejected by both haha.

My immediate reaction was that there isn't any disadvantage and if anything an advantage. I thought about this more though and realized of the 2 immediate post-MBA team members we've had, one jumped to a new team after about a year and one is 1.5 years in and seems to be doing ok, One was at Strategy& and the other BCG pre-MBA and both went to M7 programs so similar to you. Very little evidence then that they have done better for themselves.

On the other hand the people who come into my group after MBA>MBB for 2-3 years>my group came in one level senior to the post-MBA folks and had more experience across industries so in some ways that seems ostensibly preferable. They also get promoted again after typically ~3 years to a pretty senior level so that looks attractive as they're then only 5 years or so post-MBA and 33-34 years old.

    • 2
Feb 19, 2020

ah, gotcha. so to make sure I'm understanding, even though the years out from MBA are the same, the person who did MBA -> MBB -> corp strat came in at a higher level? are those people also promoted faster? thanks for all the helpful answers!!!

Mar 30, 2020
Comment