AMA - Corporate Strategy at a F500 company

masun2014's picture
Rank: Monkey | 65

Hi - I have been a lurker for over 3 years now but finally made an account today. I work in corporate strategy at a F500 company. Have an Executive MBA from a Target School but never got an consulting experience. Before that I had product development and strategy experience at a another F100 company.
While trying to change jobs, I went through a lot of corporate strategy interviewing and recruiting and would love to share the experience with the group here...

Comments (64)

Aug 2, 2014

Two questions for you: what industry are you in (if you're willing to share) and what are your hours like?

Aug 2, 2014

Financial Services Industry. I won't share more because it might become too easy to narrow down the company then.....My hours really vary but my boss is an ex-banker and everyone i work with are ex-MBB so hours could be very intense sometimes.....I love my work and eventually I want to be a GM within the company so I dont mind thinking about work even when i am not there....

Aug 2, 2014

In what ways would a Corp Strat group engage with Corp Dev groups?

Aug 2, 2014

It varies....they primarily come into the picture on acquisitions...where they work with our team pretty closely

Aug 3, 2014
snakeoil:

In what ways would a Corp Strat group engage with Corp Dev groups?

Pardon the stupid question, but what's the difference between the two groups?

Aug 4, 2014

Corp Strategy is like an Internal MBB consulting group that advises the senior leadership on various strategic initiatives.
Corp Dev is basically an Internal M&A team

Aug 3, 2014

What does a typical day or week look like for you? What skills would you recommend to have going into the gig? Thanks for the AMA.

Aug 5, 2014

Typical Day/Week really consists of 1-2 major projects/deals that we are working on. I support one of the C-level executives directly so I spend quite a bunch of time preparing decks for him that he presents to clients, mgmt comm, board, internal townhalls etc as well......these take longer than you would think because it's really articulating the strategy....
In terms of skills - In my specific case, it was helpful to have the ability to think analytically and solve problems.........relationship mgmt skills (specially with senior leaders) is very important....i do a lot of financial modeling as well (not M&A) so that was important too......i lived my life in powerpoint and excel so you need to be an expert in those 2.

Aug 3, 2014

Do you think it's possible to go into PE after a few years in f500corp strat (with a target mba but no ib/consulting experience).

Also what exits have you seen by your coworkers besides other corp strat gigs

Aug 5, 2014

I will be honest but it is very hard. I think one would have to essentially get lucky to find a role that is basically in your sector and needs you to be a SME.......I don't expect to be able to get into PE......I think the typical path for Corp Str folks is going into a COO type of role within a business unit and then run a business as GM.

Aug 4, 2014

thanks for doing the ama! i'm going to frontpage this tomorrow (tuesday) so you'll see some more questions come in

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Aug 5, 2014

cool - looking forward to it.

Aug 4, 2014

Thanks for the AMA! Very interested in corporate strategy post-MBA. Two additional questions:

1) Do you feel like you missed anything by not having consulting experience before moving into your area?

2) Does your group use case interviews, behavioral/fit, or a combination when recruiting?

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Aug 5, 2014

1 - Yes, I think so. I never went through the typical OCR to never had the chance to recruit for MBB but I think if i go out and look for a job tomorrow, not having MBB on my resume would disqualify me from atleast 30-40% of the corp strategy jobs.....that being said, I think I could potentially network into one of those jobs......but if you have the opp and you dont have to take a big paycut to do so, i would recommend getting MBB on your resume...

2 - Yes. I have never encountered a Corp Strategy team that doesn't do a Case Interview along with everything else while recruiting.....

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Aug 5, 2014

Thanks for doing this masun.

A few questions:

1) How did you land your strategy gig at the F100 you did prior to your role now?

2) How do you think IT consulting is viewed when trying to get into corporate strategy? Say someone goes IT consulting -> Top MBA. Do you know of any former IT consultants in your group?

3) And now the question everyone asks, what's the compensation and hierarchy like? Also how is salary progression? I've heard that comp is anywhere around $150k - $200k for a post-MBA corp strat role at a F500.

Aug 5, 2014

1- right out of undergrad recruiting. I recruited for a different role but was introduced to the strategy team because they had a specific need and I was just in the right place at the right time.

2 - it might be relevant if you are trying to do corp str at a tech company but might not make that much a diff anywhere else.....everyone in my current team is ex-MBB, ex corp str or ex banker

3- post MBA director level base is at 125k - 150kwith 15-20% bonus but I think it depends on experience. An MBB post MBA would prob come at a avp/VP level where base is over 225 k + bonus + stock

Aug 7, 2014
masun2014:

An MBB post MBA would prob come at a avp/VP level where base is over 225 k + bonus + stock

What do you mean by an MBB post-MBA?

I graduated M7 2.5 years ago, and am at MBB. Are you saying 225k + bonus + stock now? Or once I get to a certain level at MBB?

Aug 5, 2014

How much impact did the EMBA have on your career?

Aug 5, 2014

It helped a lot because it provided me the network that as a non MBB I just didn't have.......it also provided strategy perspective beyond my sector

Aug 5, 2014

1. How would one without any MBB experience or Ibanking be able to break into Corp Strat?

2. Prior experience before your F100 gig?

Aug 5, 2014

It's very hard. The only way I would think one could do it is via internal move somehow or becoming an industry expert but the hiring managers almost always have a bias for MBB or corp str experience

Aug 5, 2014

How important is target undergrad? How many of these groups even hire straight from undergrad?

Does every company have a corp strat group? Why do firms that have a strat group sometimes also hire MBB? That's kinda a kick in the nuts for the strat group, right?

Aug 5, 2014

Depends on the group. the company i was in recruits from undergrad......

i think most company have started having corp strategy and corp dev groups....my guess is 80% of F500 companies have probably some kind of str planning group......
Its not a kick at all......We def hire MBB or other consulting firms to do market research that we would typically not have access to or time for.

Aug 5, 2014

Why did you do an Executive MBA rather than full-time? Seems like executive isn't great for those who want MBB or corporate strategy.

Aug 5, 2014

Had no desire to do OCR for a MBB associate position. Exec MBA is definately not great if you are looking to move into corp str and MBB

Aug 5, 2014

1. Could you answer the hours question with more specificity? What time do you get in every day? When do you leave when things are quiet versus slow? Weekend work?

2. I have been poking around at some Corp Strategy jobs, but coming from a hedge fund and I'm almost 10 years out of undergrad -- probably pretty atypical, right? Is an MBA a requirement?

3. Comp?

Aug 5, 2014
grosse:

1. Could you answer the hours question with more specificity? What time do you get in every day? When do you leave when things are quiet versus slow? Weekend work?

2. I have been poking around at some Corp Strategy jobs, but coming from a hedge fund and I'm almost 10 years out of undergrad -- probably pretty atypical, right? Is an MBA a requirement?

3. Comp?

It varies based on the projects you are working. During year end last year when we have to finalize out strategic planning, I was working until 1 am every night for 2 weeks but there are times in the summer when I came in at 10 and left at 6......my hours are more intense than other corp strategy team but it's much more relaxed than being at a bank or at MBB

MBA is usually a requirement but it depends on your experience. If you have relevant experience it might not matter

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Aug 5, 2014

Favorite overtime food? pizza or sushi?

Aug 5, 2014

A few ?'s, thanks for the AMA. How are ex-bankers received e.g. analysts coming from 2-3 years of M&A banking? Is there a formal process, HHs? Are they automatically funneled into Corp. Dev teams?

Aug 5, 2014
BBParty:

A few ?'s, thanks for the AMA. How are ex-bankers received e.g. analysts coming from 2-3 years of M&A banking? Is there a formal process, HHs? Are they automatically funneled into Corp. Dev teams?

Typically M&A Analysts would be recruited into Corp Dev at a Senior Manager Level (below director)......Usually HHs for recruiting but I did my whole recruiting via networking from alumni....I do know of Bankers going directly into Corp Strategy though but they were Associates...

Aug 7, 2014
masun2014:
BBParty:

A few ?'s, thanks for the AMA. How are ex-bankers received e.g. analysts coming from 2-3 years of M&A banking? Is there a formal process, HHs? Are they automatically funneled into Corp. Dev teams?

Typically M&A Analysts would be recruited into Corp Dev at a Senior Manager Level (below director)......Usually HHs for recruiting but I did my whole recruiting via networking from alumni....I do know of Bankers going directly into Corp Strategy though but they were Associates...

Thanks, appreciate the insight.

Aug 5, 2014

How old are you?
How many years of F100 before you did your EMBA?
Where did you do your EMBA?
Was it easy to find your current job post EMBA? Like did you just go through OCR or did it take more effort on your end?

Thanks a lot!

Aug 5, 2014
mrharveyspecter:

How old are you?

How many years of F100 before you did your EMBA?

Where did you do your EMBA?

Was it easy to find your current job post EMBA? Like did you just go through OCR or did it take more effort on your end?

Thanks a lot!

- I am 32
- 9.5 years of experience.....
- One of the M7 schools
- No.....i found the job through networking......

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Aug 5, 2014

Masun, I am about to leave MBB for a Corp Strategy role (Senior Manager level) at a F500. Do you have any advice for me?

Aug 5, 2014

I am guessing you are pre-mba.....
- Read white papers in industry and current trends or developments....
- Figure out some industry websites and bookmark them and try to read every day or 2 days.....
- Read investor materials

Aug 5, 2014

Do you think it is possible to end up in a strategy group like yours coming from a Deloitte Strategy Consulting or a Middle Market Investment Banking background (ie less prestigious than JP of BAML)?

Best Response
Aug 5, 2014

I think Deloitte is fairly prestigious now so anyone from there with other decent work experience and target school shouldn't have an issue.......
Same goes for Middle Market Banking background.....if not in a F500 corp str/corp dev team....you could probably end up at F1000 corp str/corp dev team

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Aug 6, 2014

Hi I am not ensure if this is 100% relevant to this thread but like to give it a shot. It seems you have quite a lot of experience working in F500 companies. I am a recent grad working in a rotation program at a F500. One thing I find my self struggling with is understanding all the different opportunities available within the numerous departments.

My question is, during your experience working, was there any position that you thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend someone to try and pursue? At this point in my career, I am still trying get a grasp at what my interests/end goals buy instead want to get my feet wet learn as much as possible.

Apologies beforehand if my question is irrelevant to this thread and out of your scope to answer.

Aug 6, 2014

I think you should aim to get into the corp strategy team after the rotational program is done.....or any other corp level team that gives you an overview of the company......this will help you understand which parts of the company are growing and then give you a better understanding of where you want to go into an operational role.......obviously along with your interests....

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Aug 6, 2014

Is it common for people with extensive corporate finance experience to move into corp strat or dev? I feel that in those positions you have an excellent holistic view of the company and all of its cost and revenue drivers - the skills, not all but many, seem fairly transferable, the question is does it happen and are politics and pedigree expectations (i.e. M7/MBB) a big barrier to that?

Aug 6, 2014

every single person in a strategy role at my company (Corp Str\/Corp Dev\/Other Strategy Roles) has a M7 MBA, except analysts and associates..........
i dont think it is impossible but I think a part time or exec MBA would help....it all depends on who is running the group...what their preferences are....What your responsibilities in finance entail...
From what you are saying, seems like you are in finance group where you have a have a good understanding of the strategy as well so I would say nothing should stop you from trying....I would try to make one of the corp str guys a mentor and go from there....

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Aug 6, 2014

Would a business/sales ops/strategy role allow you to internally move into corp strat/dev teams in the firm or would hiring managers always prefer a banker/MBB consultant vs internal hire? Or does it just depend on how 'good' the internal hire is in their current team?

Could you do top target -> F500 business/sales ops/strategy -> top MBA -> corp strategy in same sector as F500?

Do you have business/sales ops teams in your company? What's the career progression like as I heard these teams work together a lot with BI and corp strat/dev.

Aug 7, 2014

I think it depends on the work you do within that team....The hiring manager would almost always prefere hiring the corp str/MBB but could potentially make exceptions depending on experience...

If you are doing a MBA though and the trying to move into a position via OCR....you shouldnt have to worry too much about your previous experience holding you up for a job in the same sector....it should be smooth sailing...

Aug 7, 2014
masun2014:

I think it depends on the work you do within that team....The hiring manager would almost always prefere hiring the corp str/MBB but could potentially make exceptions depending on experience...

If you are doing a MBA though and the trying to move into a position via OCR....you shouldnt have to worry too much about your previous experience holding you up for a job in the same sector....it should be smooth sailing...

Nice thanks! SB'd.

Aug 7, 2014

Could you just lay out the job title progression? something like analyst, associate, manager, .... ?

Aug 7, 2014

Manager. S manager, director, avp, VP, svp, c level

Aug 7, 2014

What are the exit ops?

If heading towards the c-level, what role in particular? Moreover, if heading to the c-level, how would you fair having only a strat/dev focus, but not actually operating, selling, or producing in the company previously?

Feb 7, 2015

delete

Aug 8, 2014

The typical cReer path at my company or any other fin services company is corp str --- bu strategy --- coo for a business -- gm/c- level

Aug 8, 2014

May not be comparing apples to apples here but in where I work, which is one of the energy supermajors, the corp dev/strategy teams are mostly consisted of people with previous experience running the business itself (e.g. engineering, exploration) with addition of several others (MBAs, finance, MBB). The point is that MBA degrees are minority rather the majority, which is opposite to your company.

Aug 8, 2014

what's the plan? exits / growing to C level / etc.?

Aug 8, 2014

Is it too late to start as an analyst at 29 yo?
I used to work in marketing but looking for a career shift.

Aug 11, 2014

Your best bet would be to go get a MBA am change careers that way

Aug 11, 2014

Any insights on what you'd do to go do strategy on higher level work?

Non-target (top 50 US, story was that I could live with family, keep my HS job and I paid college 100% myself) with OK GPA(>3.0, internships
Math-econ major with minors in stats and accounting. Considering MS from top 20 uni in the area.
Currently work at F100, merging with other F100 to become F50.
Senior analyst in Analytics group within Engineering and Ops, some strategy type work but more of a report making focus following a reorg where my SVP was let go. Former SVP hired me on as an experienced hire straight out of UG to "lure me from McKinsey". I didn't tell him Mc would never recruit from my uni.
A lot of work has a quantitative focus and I split my time between coding and making presentations look pretty.

Aug 11, 2014

@OP.. I am assuming there is a Financial Planning & Analysis (NOT accounting) group as well in your company. Are there any areas that fall under your group (corp strategy) as well as the FP&A group? Where is the line drawn between the 2 groups in terms of P&L ownership/responsibilities?

Thanks for the AMA. Very helpful.

Aug 11, 2014

There is a fpa group that reports into the CFO.....we don't really interact with them much except getting data from them for projects.....I think at other companies, those groups play a much more active role is strategy and decision making but less so at mine so Idont have much insigh

Aug 11, 2014

thanks. SB'd

Aug 14, 2014
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Aug 26, 2014