BAE Systems/FLDP

I was wondering if anyone could provide some insights on working for BAE Systems and particularly the FLDP. How were your experiences? I am particularly interested in government contracting and/or M&A/Corporate Development. How is the pay, lifestyle, and advancement opportunities? I'd appreciate if anyone could give me some further insight as I'm very interested in the program. Thanks.

Comments (11)

Jan 11, 2012

I am not sure about BAE, so take this with a grain of salt, but I work at another defense/aero company, and I'm in the FLDP program there, and to be honest it is definitely not for everyone. Government contracting is nothing like any other financial job or internship I've had due to the bureaucracy that has developed in that industry. I know this exists in most sectors now, especially after 07, but Defense has taken it to a whole new level. The lifestyle is way more laid back on average than your typical 'Finance' Job (IB, PE, etc) and you will work way less hours, but the compensation is significantly lower for entry level as a result, and they typically do not pay bonuses, unless you get to senior manager or director level, which can take many years in some of the larger firms. I took my gig and was very happy at the time, and in retrospect it has been an overall good experience, but I'm just trying to give you a down to earth perspective. These companies are gold mines for engineers/comp sci people, but financial and ops people are not really the target for performance bonuses or promotions.

Pros:
-laid back work environment
-typically very intelligent/ friendly coworkers (at least the F&BO / Engineers)
-higher job security than most sectors (unless America collapses, the government will need at least some Defense spending)
-lots of networking opportunity at other companies (especially consulting/big IT firms)
-If you get through the program, many of the companies will pay for your MBA
-If you do get through the program with the MBA, it will highly increase your chance for promotion.

Cons:
-low pay (relative to other financial jobs)
-not a lot of room for growth (at least with the big ones like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop, Raytheon, etc)
-takes a long time to get things done due to government compliance/regulations

When you start, your typical day to day responsibilities will be more on the accounting/controller side of things before they trust you with more high level things like FP&A or M&A.

Like I said probably not a perfect match for the BAE experience, but hopefully it helps.

Jan 12, 2012

Thanks for the insight, its very helpful.

Jan 13, 2012

Is it typical for the finance folks to move out after a couple years, do an MBA, and switch to, say, aero/defense equity research?

"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is."
- Oscar Wilde
"Seriously, psychology is for those with two x chromosomes."
- RagnarDanneskjold

Jan 13, 2012

Yes, I have heard of several people doing that in my own firm, as well as several of my contacts in the other big 3 firms, but it is not the most common route. A more common exit is going into like an engineering firm consultant role on the financial side, as well as a pretty solid FP&A/ Analyst role at some of the bigger tech firms (think Google, SAP, etc). Be warned though, many of these companies have a contract you need to sign if you do take their MBA reimbursement, which usually tacks on an additional year or so until you are 'free' to leave without penalty of tuition forfeiture, so know that going into it.

If lateraling to P/E is your plan, though, I would highly recommend one of two things: Ask for a FPA/M&A type role as soon as you get there, so you get as much experience with it as possible before you make the jump. They will try to stick you in a subordinate role like cost accounting or controls, which are beneficial if you plan to learn the company inside and out to stay there long term, but useless if you just want to familiarize yourself with the business rhythms of the industry (I mentioned something similar to this before). The second thing you could do is to try to do a combo role of a finance and systems analyst. This allows you to get a bigger picture of the company as a whole, as you will be required to manage a lot more data points and interact with a lot more people, and it will help you get a better grasp on the industry, as opposed to having tunnel vision on your specific division or line of business.

Jan 14, 2012
MonkeyWrench:

Be warned though, many of these companies have a contract you need to sign if you do take their MBA reimbursement, which usually tacks on an additional year or so until you are 'free' to leave without penalty of tuition forfeiture, so know that going into it.

If you're already making good money on top of a free MBA (which is $150, I guess?), then it sounds like a decent deal?

"When I was young I thought that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old I know that it is."
- Oscar Wilde
"Seriously, psychology is for those with two x chromosomes."
- RagnarDanneskjold

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Jan 14, 2012

Yeah I mean like i said, ive been relatively happy with it as a first job, and you can definitely do far worse. Basically its a trade off like with everything: Work for like 5-6 years with pretty lax hours while getting your MBA then exit, or bust your ass in something like IB for 2-3 years, leave, get your MBA full time in a year or however long, then jump to an exit job after that.

One important thing I forgot to mention is that most of the main hubs (with the exception of DC) for the defense industry are a lot cheaper to live in than NYC, so you will end up saving a higher percentage of your income/ have a lower cost of living multiplier, so keep that in mind.

Jan 14, 2012

what are your questions

Jan 14, 2012

I guess i'm just looking for the typical type of answers. What to expect from the first round? From the second round? If anyone is in the program or has gone through it how did you like it? Etc.

Jan 14, 2012

You're going to get a lot of questions. Probably not as technical as an ibanking interview, but we are talking CorpFin here. They are going to mold you into what they want.

Really can't speak for the rounds as they change from year to year and depend on the people they bring in to help with the interviews.. It is an excellent program with an excellent company. You will get a ton of real world experience from FP&A to program finance across multiple different sectors (l&a, ship repair), etc.

I can tell you that the competition for this program is extremely stiff and the people you will be interviewing with are extremely intelligent and know their shit about everything finance.

Worry less about knowing bullshit like an LBO, focus more on FP&A, modeling, excel skills, etc. Remember, this is CorpFin, not a bank.

I did not go through the FLDP (more for recent college grads, people with 1< year experience) but like I said, excellent program with an excellent company.

Let me know if you have more questions.

Oh, and one more thing, read up on the company, the corporate structure, different branches, recent contracts won, etc. Knowing about the company and what they do shows that you are interested in the company and really want to be a part of it. You can teach finance skills, you can't teach enthusiasm.

Jan 14, 2012
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