AMA: Three years of MBB leaving for PE in NYC

luckytaleb's picture
Rank: Monkey | 55

Have lurked on here since undergrad so posting here in case I can be helpful.

Before MBB: Went to a target state school (think Berkeley, Michigan, etc) and studied computer science. Interned at MBB, some tech companies (big and small), and did various leadership stuff on campus

My MBB experience Joined an office in the midwest and did all kinds of projects (no specialization / joined as generalist), received the highest performance rating, and left just before being promoted to the project manager equivalent role (case team leader, engagement manager, whatever its called at your firm). Also led on campus recruiting for a school (interviewed candidates, info sessions, etc) and went international for 10 weeks for a project

After MBB plans Headed to an upper middle market PE firm in NYC as a deal side associate. Looking forward to the change in type of work and living life in the city.


Comments (16)

Jul 9, 2018


Jul 9, 2018

Hey, thanks for the question. No I don't think I'm at a disadvantage...both parties have their strengths and weaknesses. I think my weakness (compared to IB) is in understanding the mechanics of how money changes hands, how deals are structured, etc in a transaction. This seems to be more of a knowledge gap than a skill gap and one that I feel comfortable learning to close given the long track record of consultants that go into PE afterwards.

I felt I walked away from consulting with strengths in problem solving and stakeholder management / communication. On the first point, I was constantly coached on how to learn a business, identify where the biggest opportunity existed, and what roadblocks to get ahead of to capture dollars. I think this mindset will be helpful during diligence and I got a lot of positive feedback on this as well when I was interviewing for PE.

On the second point, I also got along very well with partners and senior clients and was able to build credibility quickly. I'm optimistic this will translate well working with bankers, consultants we hire, portcos, or investment meetings.

As for why not consulting long term? Couple of reasons. First is just the feeling that I am so early in my career the pay raises aren't enough to justify not trying something new. Also consulting is sexy but you are ultimately only an advisor. I wanted to get closer to the driver's seat and try out being client side for a bit

    • 3
Jul 9, 2018


Jul 9, 2018

I actually had no DD experience at all. I avoided it like the plague when I was in consulting because the hours are brutal (but I imagine if you are in IB you are not sympathetic to this line of reasoning :) )

Many PE shops are easier on the LBO modeling on consultants. I had to do a paper LBO but no intense excel. That being said I had friends go work elsewhere that did the same modeling exercises that bankers do.

Jul 10, 2018


Jul 9, 2018

First of all, congrats on your new role and doing so well at MBB. Definitely a great accomplishment.

You said you were promoted from entry-level to the manager role in only three years. That is not common to my understanding right? Typically, 2-3 years entry-level, 2 years MBA, 2 years post-MBA role and then manager right? Why do you think you did so well at MBB and what do you think allowed you to receive highest performance ratings compared to other people?

Thanks in advance for your response!

    • 1
Most Helpful
Jul 12, 2018

Thanks, I've reflected on this quite a bit and think it was part me being intentional and part being lucky.

After six review cycles, I think there are three things (lol) you need to get rated well and only one of which you can control.

The first is you need to be in an environment where you can outperform. For example, the client can't roll the team off because the board made a last minute change to the budget (happens more often than you'd think) or because they are not satisfied with the work in general (rare, but still happens). The last thing a partner or manager is going to be thinking in this situation is "Hey I know we shit the bed but this analyst really killed it"

The second thing is once you are in an environment where you can actually outperform (e.g., are not stressed in your personal life, the partners have the bandwidth to work directly with you, clients are nice, etc) actually have to outperform. In consulting we call this being standalone and what it essentially means is owning the problem so well that you don't need oversight from a manager or partner. This means the partner goes directly to you for an answer, clients ask for you specifically, manager leaves you alone, etc. It can even mean managing more junior people on the team (like someone who just joined fresh out of college). I had to be alone in a city with clients for a few weeks and that meant a lot of one on one time with senior clients, partner calling me randomly how things were going and what he should be on top of, etc. Fortunately it went well.

The third is you need to work with people who will actually speak up for you in reviews after you do all the stuff I just talked up. Even if you did everything I mentioned in the previous paragraph, none of that matters if the partners / managers don't articulate what you did and give specific examples of why it was exceptional. This implicitly means that people like you, are good mentors, are invested in the process, etc.

So what does it take to get highly rated? Well you first need to be in the right place with the right people and when you finally have your 15 seconds of fame, you need to deliver. Every project will not be your 15 seconds, but you need to treat like it is. Eventually you'll catch a break.

Oh and forgot to answer the other part of your question. I think being promoted to manager type role is becoming more and more common straight out of undergrad. There is literally nothing you learn in business school that makes you a more effective consultant if you have already spent two years at MBB.

Firms are starting to learn this and giving people the option to stay through and through. I have noticed more and more analysts staying longer and three years is becoming the new two years. I won't go into much more specifics because the firms probably differ here and I don't want to reveal where I worked, but high performers can transition directly to managers after three years.

    • 4
Jul 12, 2018

How did you highlight your undergraduate background in CS throughout the interview process? What did interviewers think of that compared to business/finance/econ majors?

Jul 13, 2018

I worked on several different types of projects in CS (finance theory, geospatial analysis, making apps) and felt that a diversity of work was important to me. They liked that but I also was being genuine as that actually was one of the reasons I wanted to go into consulting.

After having interviewed and been a part of offer decision meetings, I can say with a straight face that your major actually doesn't matter. Your resume essentially just need a 3.8+ in a respectable major (anything with rigor), 2-3 meaningful leadership roles with results to show, and a cool work experience where you accomplished something notable. If you miss the mark in any one of these three, you'll need to compensate in the other two. There are of course exceptions, but this is a good heuristic for getting an offer (assuming you do fine in the actual interviews).

Jul 13, 2018

Best of luck to you! Big picture, the transition from MBB to PE makes a lot of sense. Many move from MBB to industry. I would consider this a broader version of that. One could view it as a personal consulting practice serving multiple clients with skin in the game.

When not running a company, my older brother (former MBB) basically does that. Has a few clients in his specialty field, advises and in some cases runs (interim CEO) their business, takes an equity stake plus ongoing fees. Although he doesn't personally buy in, other than with his time, he has arranged financing for several of these parties. I've always thought of him as a hybrid PE shop.

    • 1
Mar 6, 2019

Thanks for doing this, and congratulations on the new job!

  1. Has being at the EM/CTL level made you "overqualified"/too senior for some PE Associate roles or other exit opportunities?
  2. Is the exit opp search and recruiting process at all different being at the manager level in MBB vs. when you were a BA/AC?
  3. What has your project/industry experience primarily consisted of in your time at your firm?
    • 1
Mar 7, 2019

Thanks for doing this! I'm an incoming MBB analyst planning to recruit this cycle. Could you share which mega funds were actually viable coming from consulting? I've heard mixed things (besides Bain Cap obviously).

Mar 7, 2019

What were office politics like at your office, and how did you navigate them as a junior employee in regards to getting staffed on the projects you cared about (like the international assignment)?

Mar 8, 2019

Does a Generalist / True Strategy Consultant at MBB typically have the stereotypical M-Th travel schedule? Are there MBB roles that don't require this?


Mar 8, 2019