Mod Note (Andy) - as the year comes to an end we're reposting the top AMA's from 2015, this one was originally posted 10/28/2015.

Reading through @harvardgrad08's posts I think this type of contribution is extremely helpful in de-mystifying certain career fields, especially the lessor known Corporate Development field as well as exit ops out of Big 4 Audit. So I wanted to share my story and hopefully help some folks better understand what can and can't be reasonably accomplished if you put your mind to it. Feel free to ask any question and I'll do my best to answer.

My work history working from present back words:
Currently interviewing for
1.) Senior Manager, Corporate Development @ a mid size (think $2-$5 bil revenue) Private Equity owned Portfolio Company in the Healthcare/ Medical Device industry. I think I have a great shot at landing the role, really a lateral move for me w a substantial bump in salary.
2.) Private Equity Associate- Deal team of a start up PE fund ">IB back round.

Current Role, total of 5 years & 9 months post undergrad experience:
3.) Senior Manager, Corporate/Business Development @ a top 5 Public Pharma Company. ~9 months in role. Base Salary $150k. Bonus = 20% of base. Stock Based Comp = between $15k-$30k per year. Hours 40-50, more during tight deal deadlines

Prior Roles:
4.) Manager, Revenue Forecasting and Finance Decision Support @harvardgrad08https://gv142.isrefer.com/go/wso15/wsoasis/" target="_blank">financial modeling exp. Helped pave the way into CD in same industry. 2 years in role. $110k base, 20% bonus. Hours 40-50, more during 2-3 forecast cycles per year

5.) Senior Associate Big 4 Transaction services, M&A Financial Due Diligence. New Buy side deal every 3-4 weeks. Lucked out and landed on a 4 month sell side deal where my workflow was to build the forecast and DCF model for the seller, which helped me land the sales forecasting job. By far the best job I ever held. Travel was ~50%. Hours 50-65 and up to 80-90 during some PE deals. 1.5 years in role. Salary $80k base, ~$10k-$12k bonus. Pretty decent for only 2 years of experience.

6.) Associate Big 4 Audit, Pharma/Biotech/Venture Capital- Worked mostly on analytical areas like Pharmaceutical Revenue (largely estimated), Intangible Asset Valuations, and Venture Capital Portfolio Company Valuations. 1.75 years in role. Starting salary $48k out of undergrad, w $7k bonus. after 2 years, up to only $60k base, $10k bonus. Biggest factor that helped me transition out of audit and into Transactions and later into Corp Finance was that I avoided typical Debit/Credit or Technical Accounting type audit areas. I asked to be assigned to other audit areas where I barely had to deal with heavy accounting. This went a long way in demonstrated my interest and quantitative skillset and was critical in me landing the Forecasting role down the road.

CPA, CFA level 2 candidate

Top 50 public, 3.95 GPA (overkill as it only takes a 3.3 -3.5 to get in the door at big 4)

12 years in the Marine Corps, 4 active duty, 8 reserve. Made it up to Gunnery Sergeant (E-7). Leadership and soft skills have been vital in both moving up quickly in civilian career, as well as potential MBA admissions

Future Plans:
Probably MBA this coming September. Applying to top 5 schools. Post MBA, either direct to PE, back to Corp Development at Director level, or possibly 1-2 years I-Banking at a BB to broaden my experience. long term goals. Director in CD within 3 years. VP of CD within 6. Considering taking a role on the West Coast @ a Biotech startup down the road to accelerate career.

Ok so that is my history. As you can see, I started out in Big 4 Audit and at this point I think I've solidified myself in the M&A space, at least in CD. It seems that it's definitely feasible to work your way into the deal space without Investment Banking. In my experience, certain PE's and most CD roles value a high level of industry expertise as much as pure banking valuation experience. If you take it upon yourself to learn valuation and deal financial analysis on your own (Wallstreet prep, valuation books, CFA = barely applicable), and you have all your experience in one complex industry, you will get plenty of hits for M&A jobs in the same industry. FP&A seems like a decent area to work in. i've never done FP&A, but outside of Banking, PE, CD, and Big 4 TS, FP&A is probably the next most applicable job you can take. In moderation and along with at least 1 deal related role in your CV, you probably stand a decent chance of breaking into Corp Dev.

I'm happy to answer any questions you might have on transitioning from Big 4 or anything else that helps with career planning. I'd love to one day say that I started in audit and made my way into Private Equity, but since I've already landed at least 1 interview and a second PE contacted me today, I figure that eventually I'll break in. Persistence and aggressiveness has been the key for me. Also, linkedin really is an amazing resource, and building a thorough detail of your experience makes a huge difference. Headhunters will contact you weekly on linkedin with some good, and some really great opportunities. Let the website work for you, rather than you working endlessly to find jobs. The last 2 higher profile jobs were brought right to my doorstep, so I didn't have to network aggressively or anything.

Comments (36)


Thanks for all the info! Very interesting to read about your background.

I have a tender spot in my heart for cripples, bastards, and broken things

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.


Thanks for doing this! Are you looking at going a full time MBA? If so, what's your motivation to go FT given your current comp.

Also, how would you suggest breaking in for someone with 3-4 years of corp fin experience. (former FLDP w/ FP&A and plant exp)

Eskimo Brothers:

Thanks for doing this! Are you looking at going a full time MBA? If so, what's your motivation to go FT given your current comp.

Also, how would you suggest breaking in for someone with 3-4 years of corp fin experience. (former FLDP w/ FP&A and plant exp)

I'd like to know as well. Thanks!


Good question. So it's not an easy decision to sacrifice 2 years of pretty good full time income and I see what you mean by indicating that I've already landed a good enough job. That's just it though, how good is good enough. I'd say the only think I'm assured of at this point is making it up to director level eventually, which would probably carry all in comp of $250k-$300k. Personally I want to make as much $ as possible for every hour that I put in work wise. I'm about as aggressive as they come when it comes to career progression and even though I'm confident, I've seen a lot of people even with decent MBA's fizzle out and die at the Senior Manager/Director level. I want to make Vice President and cash in that $500k-$800k pay check for the same general workweek. Getting a top 5 MBA won't help me break into the deal space as i'm there already, but it will very possibly held hedge my bets and increase my chances of making it to the top, and faster, as well as improve access into PE. Probably a lot less bang for my buck than someone who works in a different field and is trying a career switch, esp w the salary I'll be foregoing. but I'm pretty certain this will accelerate my career progression and even 2 years at a higher level and that higher paycheck that goes along with it will more than offset the income I'm foregoing. Also, I have veterans benefits which will pay for almost 100% of an ivey MBA, and will pay me $3k + per month for living expenses, not a lot of $ to live on, but free grad school and have some cash flow coming in rather than assuming $150k in loans makes it far more appealing. If not for the last part, I probably wouldn't be doing this, but it puts the benefits slightly above the sacrifices. Also, coming from a non-target undergrad and having a decent shot at top schools, my ego probably kicks in and wanting an MBA from a Wharton or Harvard has some intangible benefit to me. Maybe it's me wanting to say F-U i made it, to any of my former bosses who sucked at their jobs and were shitty leaders. So for me, maybe it's my humble beginnings as an enlisted Marine that drive me to want this more. That said, I don't think I actually need an MBA, and I could possibly make it without it, though with some greater risk.

I think coming from other Corp Finance to CD is't nearly as hard as it's made out to be. What would definately get you in is your current experience + any role working with deals ( 1 year in Big 4 Transaction Services would get you some serious looks). I've also known several people who worked there way into M&A/CD by networking their asses off at their current job, and trying to get staffed on a deal. Once you have something on your resume about deals, that suddenly builds into more experience, then all the sudden you might find a smaller company or internal lateral move to get your foot in the door.

Alternatively, your true best bet is absolutely to go to the best MBA you can, than do banking for 1-2 years after, and then you will 100% be able to exit into CD, at either Senior manager or even director level. Plus if all your industry and banking experience is in the same industry, you will be a great candidate for development in same industry. You could do a master/MBA, land a big in Big 4 TS (possibly, hard to get without experience starting in audit with Big 4), and use that experience to land CD.

I typically try to make a long term plan, decide where I want to be in 15 years, and than determine what possible avenues I can pursue get there, then go back in time further to what I can do to get to each of those avenues, all the way back to present day. Think of it like a decision tree, and keep in mind that you have at least 3-4 different options for reaching your goal, so f- it, write them down, and figure out what you need to do to achieve those 3-4 and make it happen!


Last thing I realize that getting an MBA is not ideal for a lot of people and neither is banking. But if I'm willing to do both just to slightly improve my career prospects, you can also do it in order to move into deals and massively increase your earnings potential. In an interview the other day, every single person interviewing me had an MBA and some had a second masters. Not saying it's make or break, but I'm convinced it will increase your probability of landing just about every job you might apply for. If you want this bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen. I always wanted to work in this field, but I saw it as so difficult thinking the Earth, moon, and Sun needed to align for me to land the 2-3 jobs needed to position myself for the final move, along with top performance/early promotions. But some years later I look back and it wasn't nearly as hard or impossible as I thought it would be.

good luck.


Last thing I realize that getting an MBA is not ideal for a lot of people and neither is banking. But if I'm willing to do both just to slightly improve my career prospects, you can also do it in order to move into deals and massively increase your earnings potential. In an interview the other day, every single person interviewing me had an MBA and some had a second masters. Not saying it's make or break, but I'm convinced it will increase your probability of landing just about every job you might apply for. If you want this bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen. I always wanted to work in this field, but I saw it as so difficult thinking the Earth, moon, and Sun needed to align for me to land the 2-3 jobs needed to position myself for the final move, along with top performance/early promotions. But some years later I look back and it wasn't nearly as hard or impossible as I thought it would be.

good luck.

Thanks for the awesome response man! Much appreciated! Good luck to you! Keep me updated!


Thanks a lot for doing this. Even though I PMed, you about something else, I have a quick question regarding ratings that I thought might be beneficial to post publicly since others might be curious about this as well.

I know that for transferring internally, it's harder if you aren't managing to get at least above average. That said, do you think it's impossible to move over with average perform if you can network and get someone in advisory to recommend you? Otherwise, do you know of people who jumped to a competitor firm and how easy that switch is?

EDIT: Sorry, I just realized I accidentally replied to the wrong post. I meant this for @marine13910


thanks for doing this! will add to frontpage at 1pm et today

WSO's COO (Chief Operating Orangutan) | My story | My Linkedin


Currently a first year at a MM firm in a coverage group. What would you say is the best way to make the jump into CD? Not necessarily looking for Spring/Summer 2016, ideally 2017 but really just trying to get a full perspective on things.

I've read a number of other threads that I've seen here on WSO, just wondering what your take is on making that jump.

From what I've read it seems like recruiting is far less structured compared to PE and opportunities can pop up in all sorts of different ways and at seemingly random times. I've also read that interviews vary wildly in terms of the level of technicals they grill you on.

Thanks in advance.


So your in a great position to move to CD in the future, keep in mind that a lot of companies don't have any CD people below Mgr/ Sr. Mgr and so exiting directly from banking can be tuff. And you're spot on, recruiting is just about the least structured process of and career field.

I would say best bet is to chose an industry that your getting deal exposure on during your banking stint, put together a list of the top 25 companies in said industry, as well as any hot smaller/midsize companies. Then go to every career section and see if any have an actual opening in CD. Finding a headhunter isn't really worthwhile because very few have consistent access to roles like that, instead the whole recruiting process is very add hoc. This all can work in your favor though if you play your cards right. Take your list of target companies and start on linkedin, try to connect with anyone in finance, BD/CD, strategy at those companies. Be aggressive, time is on your side as you are still in year 1 so start building out this network now and in 6 months - 1 year when you are ready to leave, you should have plenty of contacts. If you connect w finance people, message them and explain that you are working for XYZ bank and would like to connect with someone from said companies CD/BD/M&A division to discuss some potential acquisitions. Or you can say your interested in career opportunities directly. But leveraging your current position to make contact has worked out really well for me, deal people tend to accept your linked in request when you have an M&A job title. Hell some junior folks might be looking to jump ship and see you as a potential in to IB. Contacting an analyst senior/analyst in finance could end up yielding all the right points of contact since many people working in regular corp finance might cream a load trying to make the exact opposite move as you.

Anyway, if you work hard at this, you'll build this massive network, and when it comes time to pull the trigger, contact everyone of your contacts on linkedin to ask about any current/future CD opportunities. Start this at the very earliest stages of your job hunt, openings are not frequent so you really almost have to be hovering there when an opening appears. If you target 20+ companies, at least a few will pan into something tangible. Obviously if you see a public job posting for CD, and can use linked in to find contacts, even someone from HR would be a decent start.

Biggest difference to PE recruiting is lots of bankers don't think of this, but most PE firms have their deal team with profiles for each team member right on the web. Many have e-mail addresses/ phone numbers, and you can simply contact team members directly . You can also find someone who you have something in common with, for me I look for any military Vets since they are always helpful. Anyway, I actually think access to PE firms can be easier, CD teams can be really hard to locate. But on the flip side, coming from a MM bank will provide almost the same access as BB into CD, less so for PE. Less ego there, they care far more about fit and soft skills, as well as industry expertise, and valuation/modeling experience is more taken for granted esp if you come from banking.

I could prolly go on w more ideas, but for now hopefully this answers your question. You currently getting basically priceless and very rare experience (how many 1st year banking analysts are there in the US, 1,000?). Having 1 or 2 years of any type of M&A experience, but especially banking is literally like gold on your resume. So you are part of a tiny elite group in the hardest/most prestigious and highest paying field in all of business. You're going to do great and have an entire career in M&A ahead of you, exciting just to think about how kickass your career is going to be. Working your way up, making a six figure income right out of college, chances are as long as you stay focused, you're going to make close to or over $1mil a year.

i'm looking to do post MBA banking for these exact reasons, even though I can probably spend the rest of my career in CD without the banking experience, I want to have a holistic and broad base of M&A experience, so for me that means big 4 Transaction Services, Corp Development, IBanking, and hopefully some PE/VC experience down the road, all while specializing in my industry of choice. My end goal is to become a recognized expert on deals in the Pharma/biotech/Healthcare industry. I've done several speaking engagements at Pharma Finance conference on topics like M&A valuations and the effect of Revenue estimation of deal value...almost every time I present at a conference I walk away with more than 1 job offer from the biggest industry players, so if you can get involved in something like that down the road when you are a bit further along in your career and get your name out there, it'll be a huge resume item and shows expertise. Try to get involved as a speaker for something like that, might just give you the edge you need for that perfect CD role.


Seriously thank you so much for the in-depth response. Might take a while to fully get everything in line but this is great advice. +1 SB.

Learn More

Side-by-side comparison of top modeling training courses + exclusive discount through WSO here.



I'm currently in assurance at a Big 4 firm. I'm looking to transition to advisory, but so far am not having much luck in moving internally to FDD. I've had a couple of people reach out to me asking if I might be interested in something within Accounting Advisory Services where we work on M&A/IPOs, etc. and help the client understand the financial reporting implications/how to implement solutions. Would this be relevant at all for moving into Corp Dev/FP&A down the road, or would this potentially be even worse than sticking in assurance too much longer (I'm currently a second year)



Glad to see your planning ahead and trying to make that move. Truth be told, I actually think moving from audit to TS-FDD is one of the hardest career moves you can make, certainly harder than moving from banking to PE or CD. Even though audit is a natural feeder for TS, TS and getting access to the right people who will help you can seem impossible.

First off, don't bother w HR or your manager or partner in the audit practice. Both are worthless and neither will help you whatsoever. You do need a champion in your firms TS practice. Perhaps the most important factor is your relative rating. I was lucky, I was rated a 1 on a 1-4 scale, and received an early promotion to senior associate, 1 year early. So when I started talking with the TS practice, they could see that I was the only person out of my starting class of 175 to get promoted early and therefore they were automatically interested. My good friend transfered over same time as me and he was also rated a 1. I think to be considered, you have to make sure your ratings are at least above average, if not exceptional. If that's the case, great. If not, I can give you some suggestions on how to improve your perceived performance without really changing much. The system and your managers view of you can be so easily manipulated, I know that sounds like shit, but you gotta take every advantage you can. One piece of advice I will share is that if you do a great job, even an amazing job, and just go about your business and hope that your boss will give you a high rating, think again. You have to actually take the fight to them as I like to put it. Be aggressive. Set up monthly meetings with every manager you have to review your performance, construct your own performance tracker and set written goals, and share all of this w your boss. Here's the bottom line. When you make it clear to your boss that you expect to get a top rating, they will find it hard to give you an average rating. Call it bullying if you want, but they will almost feel bad giving you a mediocre eval when you have had so many discussions about your performance, they will actually feel awkward and sometimes in order to avoid confrontation they will simply give you a top rating lol. Maybe I had an advantage of intimidation as a Marine Corps staff sergeant, perhaps my type B personality managers were scared to give me shitty evals and wanted to avoid any awkwardness. But really this is human nature. You can very easily influence someones perception of your performance, and I'm convinced this works 100% of the time, along with other methods I've come up with. There is no way that I deserved 3 years of Big 4 performance evals that were all exceptional, that's mathematically impossible. But I got them, and I'm convinced it was by using psychology to my favor. Female boss? Flirt with her haha. I'd prolly hook up with a decent looking female boss if it meant I was going to get an amazing review. I'm not above whoring myself out for the better of my career, it's a minor sacrifice and the $$ you'll make by getting great raises and early promotions is more than a high class hooker makes, certainly higher than $1,000 an hour for your effort. Male boss, learn to read their personality and learn to be more dominant to type Bs, and learn to indirectly kiss ass for type A's (make someone feel like they are better at their job than they are by telling them that you are modeling your career after theirs) and want to learn everything you can from such a great mentor. Make them feel like you have great respect for their leadership which is lightyears ahead of their peers. In those cases, your performance perception will be a function of how you make they feel about themselves, feeding their ego. Remember that people are inherently self absorbed, and while your career may be your # 1 concern, to most supervisors who haven't fully developed their leadership skills (and most haven't), their own careers and own life is far more important to them than your own career. So basically, make it all about them. If you do this right, and your peers certainly will not be doing this, you'll have a huge edge and if you do a great job as well, you are assured to get perfect evaluations. Hopefully this helps a bit, i learned a lot of this in the Marine Corps and was able to make promotions as quick as was allowed and it boiled down to very good performance but a lot of psychology in managing relationships w supervisors.

Anyway, if you have a top ranking, it's really just a matter of looking up the entire Transaction Services team in your office by looking it up on the firm directory. That's what I did. I then e-mailed, called, starting at the Manager/Director level and working up to Managing director/partner if you don't feel the Managers are putting you in touch with the right person. Typically it's one person, partner, who handles internal recruiting. Since most people transfer internally, they are well acclimated to the process. The other thing to do is get smarter on deals/valuation and most importantly try to learn what exactly TS does. It's a somewhat nich work in FDD, you might be asked about Quality of Earning analysis, Debt and Debtlike valuation adjustments and working capital, which are the 3 major outputs of FDD. If you can get your hands on a due diligence report or two, you'll see these subjects and will quickly understand how they work. PM me if you want some detail on what these analysis actually are and how the workflow typically takes place.

I think you nailed it in your assertion of Accounting Advisory Services. Rule of thumb is if a job is related to financial reporting (Valuation in TS is also actually for the purpose of financial reporting of intangible assets after acquisition ect, even in the context of deals, the work is still not for operational and decision making purposes). In contrast, Financial Due diligence is one of the few jobs at big 4 which has nothing to do with Financial Reporting and it's entire purpose is to help clients make business/operational decisions and reduce deal valuation/offer therefore saving the buyer $$. Those are the types of jobs you want, 98% of what the big 4 do is for backoffice reporting/compliance. FDD Senior associates charge out at over $400 an hour, valuation is much less, reason being no company is every going to pay a premium for a service that won't add to the bottom line. Same concept as front office and backoffice. In FDD you are front office for your firm (but so is audit) but you are also providing a value add to your clients. Audit is nothing more than a cost, so you work with a different class of client contacts, you work with backoffice monkeys, and your goal in life should always be to work with front office people, those generating revenue. You will always be treated 1,000 times better. Firms always brag about "audit quality" bla bla bla, but no client really cares about that since in the end they only want your firms name on their financials and could care less about what audit practices call "value added" work. There is no value to clients, just a pain in the ass to accompany the insane cost that firms are charging. Clients would be happiest if audit firms never asked them for anything, skipped the entire audit, and just signed the opinion.


Thanks for your incredibly detailed account of your transition from big4 audit to TSS and your present day. Was just curious more about when you were still in audit; did you get exposure to certain activities that gave you an edge when making the switch to TSS (deal/valuation accounting work)? And also what kind of resources/advice would you give on getting "smarter" in deals/valuations.


Could you give some more detail and background on the start up PE firm you are interviewing with and what the process is like for a start up firm?


Could you give some more detail and background on the start up PE firm you are interviewing with and what the process is like for a start up firm?

No insight to offer?


BankerC159, this was a test in your ability to delay gratification = fail haha. Actually I missed your question entirely, my fault.

So the PE that I interviewed with is <$500mil AUM, and industry focused in Pharma/Biotech. it seems that it's that industry focus that got me the interview to begin with, since right now I'm not a great candidate for funds with a more general investment philosophy. Rather than turning and burning portfolio companies, they are currently only acquiring say 4-6 Port Co's for their first fund, each in different Therapeutic areas (example diabetes, Cancer-Oncology ect). Once a Port Co is acquired, they then buy individual or bundled products in those same therapeutic areas and attach them to the right company. It seems that a deal team will work on all the deals for say 1-2 Port Co's, along with the product add ons, and will then move over to post acquisition integration, strategic management, and operational aspects to help the leadership of each Port Co grow.

So on top of the typical valuation/modeling skill set, they really seem to want people with industry knowledge and a strategic operation back ground. I don't know that I fully fit that bill, I do have a good mix of deal/valuation experience, and a nice mix of strategic finance exp in same industry. To that point, it's probably a very limited pool of candidates that will have that ideal mix of skills. In fact, I can't imagine that any single person has it all, not sure how anyone with 4-6 years experience could possibly have banker type finance skills, + McKinsey level Strategy skills, + operational/finance/strategy knowledge that can only be obtained in an industry job (Corporate Development probably doesn't provide that level of experience, too much focus on deal execution) so the person who eventually gets an offer will simply be the closest to their ideal.

Not sure of your background, but the struggle with a lot of smaller/startup PE's is similar to the reason why very few bankers move into Venture Capital. A VC is looking for industry operating experience, the valuation/finance skills become secondary. This makes sense since they aren't looking to just leverage, buy low, cut costs, grow a bit, and sell high in 5-8 years. Instead, VC's fundamentally change their Portfolio Company's. I feel like a startup PE in a complex advanced industry mirrors the VC industry more than larger PE's. That said, I feel like working for one of these would be great. Salary + Bonus + carry is second only to Megafunds, but certainly still higher than Banking/Consulting//ER/Industry Corp Development. Base salaries don't always seem great in the beginning, a start up is risky and they aren't going to pay you $250k base + 100% cash bonus after 2 years of banking. Instead, base salary might be in the $115-$150 range, cash bonus probably 50% at most, but carry could be higher than cash bonus since it costs them nothing should their investments be unsuccessful, but if your specific fund/Port Co's yield great returns, your pool of Carry could be massive. Also, these smaller funds don't kick you out after 2 years. In fact, they actually want you to stick around for the entire lifecycle of the fund you work on. It benefits them to retain, since your helping to manage the investments you executed the deals for, along with divesting via IPO, private placement, or sale to a strategic buyer. And work life balance can be decent to really good. I know people working for smaller PE's who basically work 40-50 hours most of the time. Partners are making millions. Even a "Principle, on step below partner, is probably making close to a million all in. Hopefully I can get into mid market or small cap PE or a VC later in my career as I really want this experience + salary. My intent after MBA is to do a short banking stint so that i'm not always trying to compensate for a possible lack of valuation skills, despite the fact that i'm pretty good at valuation & modeling. Then I am confident I can move to a smaller PE direct from a bank, but mostly by leveraging my pre-MBA experience. i don't plan to stay in PE, in the long run I like the idea of working in CD and the ability to move from company to company getting major + in salary along with promotions is very appealing. That and for me $750k of total comp is my end goal. I don't need millions, and i'm only going to be super aggressive with my career until i make Vice President, pretty much the highest Corp Dev role available. I don't have much interest in being a CFO, I can't stand accounting and CFO's spend more than half their time managing back office accounting & compliance type non-sense, peon work as I like to put it.

Finally, I will say that I only did the first interview and am waiting to hear back, and was already told it would be about a month as they are screening many candidates. The interview was very intense. I was actually surprised on how technical the questions were, as I expected the first interview to be mostly fit. Questions were less oriented towards valuation/pure deal finance, and more oriented towards industry specific nuances. Like for example, I was asked to explain how I would calculate Medicaid Government pricing, to which I could only answer that a rebate to Medicaid is based upon the WAC price at product launch and an allowed inflationary rate of price increase, thus 20 years after launch when a company takes 10% annual price increases, only 2% is credited toward Medicaid and the rest is paid back via additional rebating. I explained that I don't actually do Government pricing calculations, that we have an entire team who specializes in that, but my interviewer wanted more detail on the actual calculation. I know for a fact that there isn't a single person in Pharma Corp Development who even understands as much as I do, so I was thrown for a loop by the detail of the questions. It may have been an attempt to get me flustered, so I remained calm, shit my pants, and answered to the best of my ability. I'm generally not comfortable with lines of questioning that are so detailed that even an ideal candidate will only be able to answer ~50% correctly, but I supposes it has it's merits as a way of really cutting through the non-sense of people inflating their knowledge. Most interviews I could probably BS my way through by giving more general answers and tailoring to my actual knowledge, but not this one. Preparing for this type of interview is almost pointless. It takes years and years to develop the level of expertise to answer most questions intelligently, so similar to cramming in 2 days of CFA study right before the exam, it simply won't work. That's their way of cutting through candidates and determining who even understands the concepts that are important to them. I'm positive that no IBanking Analyst in the Healthcare group moving to PE would every know about how the Pharma PHS and 340B system demand will fluctuate depending on the market pricing dynamic of other market competitors right?? Anyway, I think they also took ques from my resume and tailored questions based on my own listed experience, so I may have set myself up for this by listing Pharma rebates and pricing as on of my key experiences. He said right from the beginning "oh I see you've been a speaker at these conferences over this topic, so we're really gonna have some fun and I'm going to grill you." Great I thought, can I ask you how to dissemble an M-16 or how to choke out an enemy combatant? Much like the GMAT, I have no idea how well or poorly I actually did on the interview, since soft skills and personality didn't really seem to come into play at all. The GMAT is calibrated so that even the 99% percentile of test takers end up getting ~50% of all questions wrong, but they are simply a harder caliper of questions than someone scoring 70% percentile.

Hopefully this helps you. I'm happy to go further in detail, just let me know more specifically what you'd like to discuss and i'll meet you halfway. Are you looking at startup PE's? Are you coming straight from the banking floor at a BB? MM? Boutique? If so, you would benefit significantly by spending a year or two in CD, and you would get a higher salary at a PE after acquiring deeper industry knowledge. I almost feel like FP&A experience (shoot me now for even suggesting this) or general strategy would be more beneficial than my Big 4 Transaction Services, Industry Revenue Forecasting/Finance Decision Support and CD experience.


Thanks for that - I appreciate the in depth post. I accidentally gave you monkey shit instead of a banana. If anyone knows how to reverse that let me know!!


Nice, I'm used to being shit on so no worries dude.


SB'd in an attempt to make up for the prior MS. Great post; love your attitude.


Any updates on the start up PE role?


This is great, as a recent hire in the CD world I really appreciate the insight.

Are you planning on finishing out the CFA?

MM IB -> TMT Corporate Development


SECfinance, CFA, I'm actually struggling to decide whether to go for level 2 for this coming June. While it doesn't have much absolute value in Corp Finance, I think it has actually helped show some interest and has been a topic for discussion in at least a few interviews. I figure any time part of an interview can be consumed with a topic like that, there is less time for the interviewer to ask hard technical questions. Having the full CFA charter will probably impress some folks, and might set things up to where a prospective employer just assumes you can handle modeling/valuations or can easily learn whatever you don't know.

So my general take on credentials is that they can have little value for someone without some good transferable experience which trumps education/certifications. But for someone who has the right experience, holding a CFA might convince a hiring manager that the you are a "financial expert" which I don't think actually exists. Instead we have a range of skills from nil to a lot, but even a CFO probably only knows marginally more than a director, it was likely their soft skills that elevated them up to that level. I need to decide whether to rock and roll and move forward with level 2 within the next month or so


Thank you for this and for your service!


This question is more related to your military experience. Did you enlist before or after Undergrad?

Also, as someone who has looked at the military coming out of Undergrad, I've had reservations with the transition from military to the working world. Clearly, you've been very successful coming out of your military career, what do you think contributed to that success/made the transition easier?

Thank you for the AMA and your service.


Great White Shark?,

I enlisted when I was a Sophmore in school, so I never got a commission as an officer even after graduating college, and stuck with the enlisted Ranks and made it up to E-7. For me, the time was right, I went to a recruiter 2 days after 9/11 as I had to do something. By far the best decision I ever made. I spent ~ 4 years on active duty, 8 more in the reserves and got out 1.5 years ago. I miss it everyday and I am looking at going back into the reserves, largely dependent on my plans for MBA (which would be easy, I was in the Reserves for most of my undergrad and it was really great to have that and get out of the student mentality, if only for 1 weekend a month). I was lucky (or unlucky for those who didn't enjoy serving) to get to deploy to Afghanistan once and Iraq twice, as well as Humanitarian deployments to Honduras and Peru. I also lucked out and was promoted lightning fast, too fast in reality, up to Sergeant in 3 years, Staff Sergeant in 6 ect... I spend my last 3 years running a Company with 240 marines, which was a daunting challenge but I think I did ok. Everything I know about leadership and soft skills I learned in the Marine Corps. A certain amount of that is forced on everyone, but mostly it is what you make of it. I worked for plenty of shitty leaders over the years. but also plenty of amazing leaders who I modeled myself after. I remember thinking that I was suprised that not every supervisor was a great leader, after all that is what the military and esp the MC is known for. Than I started my civilian career and found myself shocked by the blatant lack of leadership displayed by 80% of supervisors. Worse still, when I moved over to industry from consulting, I thought Big 4 was mediocre for leadership, but my god, corporate is so much worse. I could lay a claymore mine in the middle of the cafeteria at lunchtime and chances are, I won't hit even 1 exceptional or even very good leader. This is the only thing I struggle with. Everything else about transitioning to civilian career is cake.

Now by no means do I mean that it's an easy transition. i know a lot of military folks I served with who have struggled. My friends in particular haven't shared in my corporate success (if you want to call it that, personally im not easily impressed and so I don't think my accomplishments are anything special, just better than the average military person maybe). Lots of them become cops/fireman, which is an easier transition. I was attracted to Business because I like $$$$$, and if you make me into a cop, I'm going to work 100 hours a week to suck up overtime, push for constant promotion, end up as a police Captain and have an aweful schedule my entire career of night shifts and crazy workweeks. I'd rather apply that work ethic to a career that is more lucrative on a per hour basis.

As far as transitioning, it's like this...it's whatever you make of it. Yes I do struggle at times. I had the benefit of finishing active duty time, going back to college for 3 years, and than starting a career, so I didn't come straight from "the fleet" to a civilian career. If you intend to do the military thing, your best bet is to do your time, go straight into MBA as a bridge/buffer, and start a civilian career. You can hang out with vets in your MBA as you may not get along as well with your average pencil neck/pencil pusher haha. If you make the most out of the military, aim to become the best possible leader you can, put your troops ahead of yourself, ahead of the mission, ahead of everything, you will come out of it with invaluable life skills and maturity. And you will enter a civilian career with a huge advantage. I know so many Directors at my company who have never had even 1 direct report to supervise. 10-20 years of job experience and zero leadership. Makes me sick to think about it. and when they finally do get supervisory responsibility, they suck balls. I mean god awful decision making. Painful to watch. They have no idea what is it to motivate people, to draw out 100% performance, to earn the respect of a team and to drive them to really perform above and beyond. I always say people, even the best of performers, will only give so much effort on their own. If they believe in you, as their leader, and they know you have their best interests at heart, they will start performing at a level well beyond...all simply in an attempt to not disappoint you.

I hope this helps. I appreciate your interest in the military. Do it right and go with the Marine Corps. The network of military people in high speed corporate jobs is pretty strong. If an interviewer has a military background, you will more or less automatically get the positive nod. And you will develop leadership skills that no one else, even the most successful CEOS, can't really hold a candle vs someone with years of direct troop supervision, managing not just the 9-5 components of someones job by doing 1 weekly "1-0n-1 meeting" (soo gay), but managing the 24-7 every aspect of their lives. Girlfriend dumps them on deployment, you work them through it. Wife sucks some other guys dick, you take them to the gym everyday so that they can kick dudes ass when they get home. Performance not up to par, you will train them to perform. Great performer, you will reward them with promotion, responsibility, perks. It goes on and on and personally I'd take that lifestyle and it's shitty $$ paycheck over being wealthy and everyday dealing with Americas self entitled douchbag men and some women (fully respecting the good ones) in Corporations who constantly overcompensate for some old fashioned sexist concept and as a result come off as unbalanced authoritative type A's, but without the required leadership and talent to be an effective type A. If you go in to the military, you'll have to deal with this stuff just as I have. If you focus on making promotion and eventually being in charge and using your leadership for the betterment of people around you, you'll be fine and will rise up like a star 3x as fast as your peers!



SBed and holy shit thank you for that response. It was incredibly informative and really gave me a great perspective on some of the challenges with a military career, but also the benefits.

It's also funny you mentioned fire fighting. I volunteered for a while during my undergrad as a FF/EMT. Best experience of my life and was definitely interesting transitioning on almost a daily basis between that culture and college culture. 180 degrees different.

In any case though, thank you again for your response. You've given me a lot to mull over.


I have veterans benefits which will pay for almost 100% of an ivey MBA

Does the U.S. military really pay for business school in Ontario? Any particular reason why you're looking to do an MBA in Canada instead of the U.S.?


Haha nah not Ivey the college. Ivey League schools in the US. Hell no I would never go to Canada. Though I used to work on quite a few deals in Nova Scotia and Toronto and I really enjoyed those places. Lobster in Nova is unbelievable and Canada does have some really awesome cities


As somebody who has worked in FP&A for both a publicly traded technology company and now at a small start-up, what would you say are the major barriers to entry for somebody looking to move into CD? I am a CFA charter holder, and I also have experience with M&A deal support (i.e. building out DCF valuation models, accretion/dilution analysis, evaluating strategic fit/business case, etc.). I feel like I have set myself up pretty well to make the move but haven't received a whole lot of interest. Like yourself, I am very ambitious and have moved up from an entry level grunt to a senior manager over the past 5 years, but the move to CD is still proving to be difficult. Any thoughts?


Nice thread!

Could you provide a bit more info about the job your in?

Day in the life, typical things you look at in a day, how team is structured, hours.

Also the things you like and dislike about the job and what it's like to work in the Pharma sector (pros and cons).

Really interested.


@marine13910 I m starting a FLDP rotational program with a F100 bank. I am in the Army reserve and and just finished my masters in accountancy. I will start this CF type rotational program right after i finish Basic and AIT.

I i may ask you, does once a month Drill and 2 weeks off in summer have a potentially negative impact on your career? Would it lead to slower promotion assuming i m a top performer? Could you please pitch in your .02? thanks

try try try.. and someday you will fly!


What are some non-traditional backgrounds you've seen make it into corporate development? Other than specifically finance or sell-side experience?

"It is better to have a friendship based on business, than a business based on friendship." - Rockefeller.

"Live fast, die hard. Leave a good looking body." - Navy SEAL


Hey , just wondering what do you think is more valuable to CD, the CPA or CFA?


1-Click to Unlock All Comments - 100% FREE

Why do I need to be signed in?
WSO is a knowledge-sharing community that depends on everyone being able to pitch in when they know something.
+ Bonus: 6 Free Financial Modeling Lessons with 1-Click Signup ($199 value)