Corporate Development Hierarchy

I wanted to get people's thoughts on the differences between the roles and responsibilities of a senior analyst / associate vs. manager vs. director in corporate development. It's definitely dependent on various factors (e.g., group, company, etc.), but I'm trying to get an idea of broad, major differences. 

For example, a senior analyst / associate builds the target list, while a manager or even director manages communication with the target.

Any experience, thoughts, opinions, etc. would be highly appreciated!

Comments (22)

Most Helpful
Feb 4, 2021 - 9:12pm

Depends on how large the team is.

Let's assume it's a generally well - staffed team with a 50/50 mix of inbound requests and outbound pipeline management:

Analyst - Pretty rare in most groups. Hard to justify having an analyst on anything that's short of a VERY well-staffed / mature Corp Dev team since even the most mundane tasks tend to be partner / client facing to some extent. You're right though, IF there is someone very junior on the team they mainly listen in, organize meetings / manage calendars, make deck edits, do pipeline / deal tracking, coordinates with various internal stakeholders, etc.

Associate - If the associate is the lowest on the totem pole they generally do what the analyst does, if they are slightly more senior they may have some additional responsibility i.e. sit in on partner meetings, ask to own 1 specific aspect of a deal and perhaps get the chance to speak to clients about it, conduct due diligence / run DD calls, etc. Basically secretarial work that leans a little more deal focused / technical.

Manager - Handles communications with targets. Oftentimes potential clients / targets / partners will reach out to these managers via something like their personal rolodex,  grad school connection, linkedin, you name it. They'll oftentimes own the relationship and ongoing work with one to a handful of clients depending on what stage the deal is at (initial exploratory phase, DD, negotiations, 1 yard line but final escalation items to be finalized, etc.) Obviously will act as delegators to their Associates but oftentimes these are ex IBD / Consulting folks and they are fully capable of deck / technical work.

Directors - Including all of the relationship work (albeit for the "bigger" or "more important" clients / partners) generally will also manage and have oversight over the full pipeline. Make final calls on deal terms, oftentimes work with strategy to align with business needs. Depending on the scope of the deal team there could be 1 director that acts as group head or many directors each owning different verticals (GAFA / FinTech / General Partnerships / M&A / etc.) all rolling up into 1 group head, who subsequently either rolls up to COO or CEO (FWIW don't pursue Corp Dev teams that roll up into the COO).


  • Summer Associate in IB-M&A
Feb 4, 2021 - 11:48pm

What exactly do you mean by "FWIW don't pursue Corp Dev teams that roll up into the COO"?

Feb 13, 2021 - 10:11pm

likely means you're doing small, safe product and tuck in type deals (read: boring shit) with acquisition strategy being driven by a group / manager outside the corpdev group. you're just a deal execution monkey.

Feb 5, 2021 - 7:20am

Very helpful thanks! Do you think some of the responsibilities you listed under Director overlap into being a VP / Head of Corp Dev? Also I think it's fair to say managers usually handle the relationship with targets, but do they also really handle deal negotiation etc.? I feel that part would fall more to director / VP.

Feb 5, 2021 - 7:51pm

Hate to keep saying this but again it'll depend on anything from your prior exposure, the trust your team has in you, etc. I think it's fair to say there can and likely will be a considerable amount of overlap. If "director" is head of the group then its likely his directs (managers) do some deal negotiations.

If "director" is head of a vertical then likely for more of the negotiations to fall on them.

Feb 5, 2021 - 8:04pm

Yeah you'll notice I was a little inconsistent when talking about that.

You're right that the "client" is generally the company you work for or a specific line of business of that company. Generally Corp Dev handles anything from negotiating a partnership (long or short term benefits, growth strategy for that company, vendor relationship, etc.) to strategic investments, to outright acquisitions.

As you can imagine these all take different levels of effort, diligence, and attention. You may be managing a pipeline of 5 acquisition targets but evaluating 50 possible partners in a given month, quarter, or year.

Feb 5, 2021 - 10:21am

In my industry it has worked like this:

VP or CCDO reports deal activity to the board quarterly, talks to bankers about potential inbound monthly and discusses live deals with CEO and the lawyers almost daily.

Director (me) manages DD teams and works on portfolio, vets models, and regularly faces counterparties, either IB or partner companies. Sometimes gives input on contract language or takes part in negotiation if your VP is good and wants to give you deal exposure.

Analyst and manager are interchangeable unless you're in a huge company (rare to see analysts at all at a sub $1b cap org.) They will take on a piece of a diligence like market research or other deal model inputs, and may have some counterparty facing time but will mostly not contribute in discussions.

  • Summer Associate in IB-M&A
Feb 5, 2021 - 2:42pm

Would you say Corp Dev in general (I know this may vary by company or industry) sponsors internationals at all levels (Associate/Manager/Director/etc)?

Feb 5, 2021 - 4:05pm

I would not consider asking my HR head for a H1B sponsorship for a junior position. Plenty of talented American kids are looking for work. If I hired some hotshot quant from Guangzhou... frankly I'd always be worried about confidential information, either ours or a partner's, making its way somewhere it shouldn't.

  • Managing Director in IB-M&A
Feb 6, 2021 - 10:43am

How junior of a role is sr manager in a company that has SVP - VP - Dir - Manager - Associate? How much of the work is junior bitch work and how much of it is outward / executive facing?

Feb 6, 2021 - 1:07pm

In my experience it's dependent more on the size of the group than anything. I work directly for a SVP, and there are just 2 other people in Corp Dev. We all do modeling, slides, and 'bitch work' but we generally also all have some interaction with partners executives, our C-suite, and IBs. I could see the junior people getting less exposure if there were ten of them, but probably still some if we had the deal flow to justify a dozen heads.

Feb 13, 2021 - 10:14pm

Yep this is me too. I report to an EVP of corpdev who is part of the C-suite, interact with C-suite + GM's almost on a daily basis. But I'm still doing decks, excel, sending meeting invites at the same time. Like if you think IB is lean, wait till you get to corpdev!

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