Coffee Chats: Junior vs Exec Level


I know we have some experienced coffee chatters out there and I was wondering how you approach a coffee chat with an MD/head? I am comfortable with juniors since they were in my position not long ago but I can't ask the same questions for someone who hasn't done that in 30+ years. (Question recommendations would be appreciated!)

Thank you in advance for any help! 

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Comments (5)

May 3, 2021 - 8:18pm

Ask them the bigger picture questions. How are business relationships formed, how do you approach new clients, how do you pitch your firm's competitive advantage, what is your firm's competitive advantage etc. Those are pretty boring, but you get the idea. You can also ask them what differentiates the very successful juniors from the average junior bankers. Also worth figuring out what kind of MD you're talking to. Some might want to stick to finance, others are just as happy shooting the shit about sports or chatting about their kids etc. Situational awareness is key. 

May 3, 2021 - 9:09pm

Fantastic, thank you for offering some pointers! 

They are within one of the Big Four's M&A teams. Do you think I could ask about a comparison between IB and their division? I just want to be wary of coming across as an IB fanatic and having no interest in his team. (Side note: I would not know how to answer why I would be happy to go to Big Four for M&A exposure rather than IB - if you could spitball with these, I would be very appreciative). 


May 3, 2021 - 9:21pm

I'd stay away from comparisons with IB. Just ask what the role of a consultant in an M and A transaction is. They do more DD and operational type stuff. They may be present before banks are in order to help executives make the decision on whether or not to sell. They may also make some of the underlying expense and revenue assumptions. After a merger they help integrate the new unit and figure out which divisions and teams are redundant. The IB firm is mostly about valuation, fairness opinion, and marketing the company or sale/finding a target for a client. 

As to why M and A, you can say that you are more interested in getting some transparency into the operational side of a business. You can talk about how you don't like the idea of just selling a company and leaving, but you want to see how things work out. Was the merger actually a good idea in the end etc. I would ask him what he does first, to ensure he's not just doing M and A assurance or something (audit) etc. Ask him about what he does before he asks you what about his role he likes. If he does ask you point blank, why do you want to work for my team, I'd give him something along the lines of, "I'm very interested in consulting and the interesting and varied work that goes along with it. Part of the reason why I asked for your time was to hear more about what you do on a day to day basis and how your group fits into the overall M and A process." Once he answers, then you go into why you want to work for his team and now you know what the fuck they actually do. 

May 3, 2021 - 11:12pm

Not sure if much of difference. Same as getting coffee with any other person. Maybe just try to be a bit more respectful if possible given they are likely older, smarter and wealthier than the junior folks

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