Corporate Strategy Career Path

Hey guys,

My goal is to eventually get into a corporate strategy role. Everyone I've talked to has said to go through management consulting the first few years out of undergrad and then get my MBA. I am about to begin my final year of undergrad. Interviewed with a couple of MBB firms for the summer intern program but didn't receive an offer, so I'm hoping to go through full-time recruitment and pull a full-time offer or another offer from a tier 2. If that doesn't work out, I was looking into FLDP programs as being a back-up.

How do FLDP programs prepare for strategy careers (if at all)? Are there any programs similar to fldps that are more strategy relate? like in business development and what not? What are some other decent back up plans if for some reason management consulting didn't work out for someone who wants to work in strategy one day?

Thanks, I appreciate it.

Usefulness of Financial Leadership Development Program

On the matter of Financial Leadership Development Programs (FLDP) preparing you for careers in strategy, our users have varying opinions. Some feel that they are beneficial and helpful in building your resume up to getting a career in strategy and other feel that they are not a good use for years of your career. One point that our users did agree on is that it helps to start you career in management consulting to go into corporate strategy, but it is not necessary.

While user @Bernanke's Beard shared:

Based on my conversations with current and former FLDP's, many of the companies have rotations within their corporate strategy/department.

User @watchitburn shared:

Some finance leadership development programs can be a good way into corporate strategy within and outside the company. The majority of FLDP jobs are in Accounting and Corporate Finance (FP&A). Some programs vary and offer positions in Corporate Development (internal M&A, joint ventures, partnerships), Corporate Strategy (like internal consulting), and/or Business Development (sales), but this is depends on each company.

There are many benefits to being in a finance rotation program, such as exposure to different functions within a company, a large finance network that includes directors and VPs at a company, diverse job functions every few months, and lots of leadership training. But at the end of the day, finance and strategy are two separate jobs.

Personal Background: Worked in Corp. FP&A in a finance rotation program, now work in Corporate Strategy

However, User @D M shared:

FLDPs definitely do NOT prepare you for a corpstrat career. MBB or similar does. It does, however, add value if you want a strat career. Here's what FLDP helps you with for a career in strategy:

  • Strong, basic understanding of the fundamentals of the business.
  • Teaches you how to interact with others (professional development and persuasion)
  • Teaches you leadership, which will be imperative (you'll be working with people in many different job functions, from analysts to CEOs. You must be able to communicate with them, and knowing how to lead is a large part of this)

What you don't get is diverse experiences. Your job changes daily, even hourly in strategy, whereas in an FLDP, you focus on a specific job function for a few months at a time. In strategy you might go from working with a marketing director for an hour to a meeting with a divisional CFO and his team.

Another path, as you mentioned above, would be a tier 2 strat consulting job and then jump into industry. I don't know much about that route, but as always, you will find a position if you're the best (or top-tier, at least).


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Comments (17)

Jul 23, 2013

Based on my conversations with current and former FLDP's, many of the companies have rotations within their corporate strategy/department.

Jul 23, 2013

Interested in this as well.

Jul 23, 2013

Current Corporate Strategy analyst in an FLDP. PM me if you have any questions.

Jul 23, 2013

Not in-industry, but here's how I look at it (based off talking with some people in strat):

FLDPs definitely do NOT prepare you for a corpstrat career. MBB or similar does. It does, however, add value if you want a strat career. Here's what FLDP helps you with for a career in strategy:

1) Strong, basic understanding of the fundamentals of the business.
2) Teaches you how to interact with others (professional development and persuasion)
3) Teaches you leadership, which will be imperative (you'll be working with people in many different job functions, from analysts to CEOs. You must be able to communicate with them, and knowing how to lead is a large part of this)

What you don't get is diverse experiences. Your job changes daily, even hourly in strategy, whereas in an FLDP, you focus on a specific job function for a few months at a time. What does this mean? In strategy you might go from working with a marketing director for an hour to a meeting with a divisional CFO and his team.

Would I do the FLDP first? Definitely. Do NOT underestimate the value of the basics. PMed a WSO member in strat and he said he wished he'd had a stronger understanding of the financial side before he went into strategy. It would have made it easier starting out. Also, strat jobs are hard to come by straight out of undergrad.

Personally, I'd see if you can move into strat after getting a part-time MBA (and do a rotation during your FLDP if available). How would that work? Simple:

-2 years FLDP, apply for part-time MBA during 2nd year.
-continue working in finance for years 3-5 while earning part-time MBA
-come out of PT MBA with strong understanding of accounting/finance in the business and move into strat position

Obviously you'd have to be a TOP performer for strategy to even be an option, but it's doable. You just have to talk to people and get their opinions on the matter. If you're 100% set on strategy, apply to strat jobs and FLDPs. Once you get the offers, you can decide what you want to do. It's likely you won't get a strat offer, so you can try the above path to getting in.

Another path, as you mentioned above, would be a tier 2 strat consulting job and then jump into industry. I don't know much about that route, but as always, you will find a position if you're the best (or top-tier, at least).

Lastly, someone above said most companies offer a strat rotation for FLDPs. I haven't seen this. I have seen some offer them, and there's a good chance you can network into the position if you're killin it at the companies that don't necessarily offer it. Also, some companies will NOT allow you to join strat as an FLDP. They want people for acct/fin functions. Try and weed those out if possible.

Hope this helps. Once again I'm a student, but I've done a decent bit of research on the topic. The key here is to talk to as many people as possible, particularly reach out to those in positions youre interested in. Best of luck!

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Jul 26, 2013

I know of FLDPs at 2 BBs that actually have corp strat rotations (not mandatory ones, so you actually have to interview with the group and get chosen to join), but as you said before, consulting is a better route.
Also, it doesn't have to be MBB specifically. You could do PWC, Deloitte, or whatever else and still have a good shot.

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Jul 29, 2013

How is corporate strategy like? Why do people pursue it?

From the looks of it, it appears that is very selective to get into and compensation is only above average, at 100-150k depending on seniority. Is this accurate?

Is the cushiness of the job (40-50 hours/week?) and the relatively interesting and meaningful work the primary reasons for its competitiveness?

Aug 5, 2013

I think it also depends on the business you're working in and the "strengths" of that business.

I'm currently in an FLDP position it's a mixture of strategy and finance... we view the corp strategists as people who get the grunt work that neither my team or the other finance teams want.

Aug 5, 2013

i'm also curious about lateralling in corp strat. do people lateral across industries, but keeping within the strategy function?

Aug 31, 2013

You do not have to be a former management consultant to work in corporate strategy. It certainly helps as it is a well-trodden path and a lot of the skills are very similar. However, I just want to make sure that people know it's not an absolute hard requirement. There are other avenues, which brings me to my next point...

Some finance leadership development programs can be a good way into corporate strategy within and outside the company, depending on which roles you take within the program. FLDP by definition means a program in which you rotate through various finance jobs within a company. The majority of these jobs are in Accounting and Corporate Finance (FP&A). Some programs vary and offer positions in Corporate Development (internal M&A, joint ventures, partnerships), Corporate Strategy (like internal consulting), and/or Business Development (sales), but this is depends on each company. Do your research because not all FLDPs are equal in terms of quality positions and prestige. Also, not all companies let you choose what roles you want to do so it is a bit of a gamble that can be mitigated through right connections, hard work, etc.

There are many benefits to being in a finance rotation program, such as exposure to different functions within a company, a large finance network that includes directors and VPs at a company, diverse job functions every few months, and lots of leadership training. But at the end of the day, finance and strategy are two separate jobs. Yes, you can leverage the knowledge you'll learn in a FLDP to a strategy role and it might be a good stepping stone, but why work in finance for five years (as a poster suggested above) if you know you want to work in strategy? Go for the job you really want and if that doesn't work out, get the next best job you can get and hustle your way into your dream job.

Personal Background: Worked in Corp. FP&A in a finance rotation program, now work in Corporate Strategy

Sep 1, 2013

If you don't mind me asking, what do you enjoy more about strategy than
FP&A. Are your hours similar or different?

Also, did you do a FLDP?

Jul 23, 2013

Just a heads-up, the hours for a specific job function are going to vary greatly by company. FP&A at some companies will have 45-55 hour weeks and others will have them at 55-60+ regularly. There's less of a variation in strategy, where it seems like most companies are 55-60 "normally".

The thing here is, you have to get the feel for what it's like from someone at the specific company. Reach out to alumni and ask them questions. You can also do this in the interview. Just be careful about how you phrase it. "I don't want to be working 70 hour weeks, how many hours do you put in?" could hurt you (depends on the person).

Sep 1, 2013

Do you think it would be possible to break into corporate strategy from a different part of the company besides finance? I'm referring to more of an operations/supply chain role.

Sep 4, 2013

Only if you are a ROCKSTAR analyst (or network really, really well). You may make the move as you are more senior (like executive-level) but I assume you're not there just yet.

Sep 4, 2013

Corp dev > strategy

Aug 31, 2013

@extrememonkey Hours do depend on the company, but they are very reasonable. In FP&A, I was putting in 45-55 hours a week, while in strategy I put 40-50 hours a week on average. I work 12 hour days a few days a month, but I know when those days are so it's really predictable. To be honest, it's also summer so it's a slow period due to all the vacations. FP&A usually slows down slightly in the summer too. Also depending on your company, some places let you work one day a week/every two weeks at home. If you want a flexible, not too many hours job, corporate life is the way to go.

@TheSpartan Operations to corporate strategy would be very tough. Do you have an engineering background? I know a lot of people who re-branded with a MBA and moved into strategy so that's always a possibility. You can always try working in operations strategy as well to see if you like working in a project-based environment.

I can't say right now whether I like strategy or FP&A more. I really enjoy working in excel so I do miss that side of it. On the other hand, I really like ebb and flow of projects more than the routine of finance (month-close, quarter-close, year-close). I also get to spend a lot more time doing what I want to do. Meaning, I get to research externally what I want, learn about other divisions internally, and just in general spend more time building my knowledge base. And that's part of my job. In finance, there just isn't enough time to really think sometimes.

Oct 7, 2013

Great info, thanks.

Nov 5, 2013
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