Breaking into Private Equity from a Corporate Strategy Role?

skiNH85's picture
Rank: Monkey | 51

Hello All -

I am new to the WSO community, and thought I would bounce a question off you all as it seems there is some good insight being shared on this forum.

My question(s) is more general than specific. I am seeking advice on moving from a corporate strategy and development role into PE.
* Has anyone made this transition?
* What was the interview process like?
* Do you know of any specific firms that like to hire from corp strat?
* What would be the ideal way of breaking into PE?
* etc.

My Background:
* Top 10 liberal arts college (Econ and Math majors)
* Top 20 MBA
* 2 yrs Big 4 S&O consulting
* 2 yrs corporate strategy senior associate fortune 200 CPG company (present)

I understand similar questions may have been asked, but would appreciate a fresh perspective. One last note, I have made great contacts with several mid-market PEs in my current role (corporate carve-out divestitures), and I certainly know using these contacts will be a great approach, but would like to leverage the insight from anyone on this forum who has made a similar transition.


Comments (23)

Dec 2, 2013

It will be a difficult transition for many of the reasons you likely suspect:

1) The supply of jobs is limited and most of the post MBA roles are filled by candidates who have pre-MBA PE experience or solid IB experience

2) The field is highly competitive so firms can be selective as far as targeting specific skill sets that you may not have based on your background

It doesn't hurt to send your resume to a bunch of middle-market PE shops and you should definitely leverage your existing network. Use the search function to check out specifics on what the recruiting timeline and interview process look like. Good luck.

Dec 13, 2016

major bump please

Dec 13, 2016

What size PE firm are you interested in joining?

I don't speak from specific experience, but I would imagine that lower-MM type funds with less structured recruiting would be much more open to people with backgrounds other than 2 years of BB banking. With a smaller fund like that, networking can make much more of a difference, so building relationships with investment professionals and convincing them that your corp strat experience is valuable will get you an interview, and hopefully an offer. If you look at the staff bios on some of these funds websites you'll see that a decent number of associates have "non-traditional" backgrounds.

The fact that you're not in NYC will also help you here I think, in a similar vein - things are much less structured outside of the largest finance hubs. Are you in another big finance city or somewhere else?

Dec 3, 2013

Appreciate the honest feedback, junkbondswap. I agree with your comments which is why I reached out in the first place.

I do have a good amount of what you might call IB related experience and skill set as I do many of the traditional IB functions in-house for my company. For example, I will build EPS accretion and discretion models for potential M&A deals, write CIMs and create materials for investor presentations, etc. If deals are under $100M we will usually not hire an IB for sell-side activities. I actually think I have quite a unique skill set being that I do both strategy and corporate developmental; not to mention most of the folks in my group are either ex MBB or BB bankers, so I get great exposure.

My main concern is the more specific modeling experience (e.g., LBO) that I simply do not have. I guess this will be my achilles during the hunt/interviewing, but I wonder if this will be a deal breaker for some of the PEs out there.

Dec 13, 2016

captain buysidee-

could you actually comment on why it is that you want to move to PE from corp/bus dev? I currently work in IB and am considering whether to move to PE or to a business development role. can you talk a bit about what it is that made you feel PE would be a better opportunity?
also, what sort of things do you do in your current role?

thanks a lot

Dec 3, 2013

You can definitely pick up LBO experience through self-study programs like Macabus, BIWS, WSP, etc. although you will not have the same structuring experience and market knowledge of a pre-MBA PE guy that has already been through it. My issue with your background is not that your skill set is not valuable (I think it is) but that there are so few spots available that shops can choose people with a more demonstrated track record. This is not to discourage you from trying to make the jump so definitely hit up all of the big recruiters and take advantage of your network.

    • 1
Dec 13, 2016

I'd also be interested in this

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Sep 22, 2015


Dec 13, 2016

My fund is half former bankers and half former consultants. From my understanding that is an above average representation of consulting guys. Additionally, it is easily true that the former IB guys get relied more on the DD when we're doing deals.

I would say your recruiters are correct, but there are some shops that hire former HC consultants. I would look at the ones that are more strategic HC investors, rather than the traditional PE/VC that just have HC as a vertical and are hiring. in that later case I think bankers are favored because their skill sets can be re-applied if they ask them to change verticals.

Just my two cents and small small sample size of experience.

Dec 13, 2016


Dec 13, 2016

xeladude - I'm currently in a corp dev role, happy to answer specific questions you have here or on PM

Sep 23, 2015

agree with junkbondswap. will be tough because there are so many qualified people out there and few spots...

Dec 13, 2016

Aside from whether or not they hire consultants, there's also the question of which consultants they're going to hire. That one recruiter brought up MBB; that's because there are plenty of people there who have done a lot of healthcare work but also have a broad skill set (and the brand name on their resume). So in short, you have 2 things working against you: 1.) you're a consultant, so will have the best traction with VC and consultant-friendly MM PE firms; and 2.) you work for a boutique, so you're going to have an uphill battle to beat MBB people.

Dec 13, 2016

best bet is lower mm funds without much structure. otherwise perhaps go in as an operations / consulting role for the larger funds

Sep 23, 2015

My argument is that corp strat/dev actually gives you more of a "buy side" experience than Banking. In Corp Dev/Strat you advocate for M&A deals by presenting a thesis, financial model, due-diligence, integration/synergy analysis, etc..
I'm not in PE, but from speaking with friends who are, it'd pretty relevant work ( with the exception of LBO modelling part - which can be learned) . Typically a banker sends the same CIM to both the corp dev teams and PE firms. PE guys assess the investment based on their criteria, while the strategics figure out how to overpay for the company thanks to some made up synergies.

Dec 13, 2016

At what level can people get into operationally focused PE roles? How can one position themselves to make the jump far before the operating partner level?

Dec 13, 2016

At what level can people get into operationally focused PE roles? How can one position themselves to make the jump far before the operating partner level?

this is tough to answer. every pe firm is different. some have extensive ops teams (junior and senior guys). other firms completely outsource everything and only have a few very senior guys to opine.

Dec 13, 2016

Any views on how this is structured at TPG Capital?

Dec 9, 2015

Know this is an old thread, but I'm going through a similar transition myself. @skiNH85 - how'd it go for you? any tips?

Dec 9, 2015
Dec 13, 2016