Do many young I-Bankers pivot to F500 ladder? Seems like you sharks would dominate, yeah?

DukeED23's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | banana points 22

I grew up in metro Detroit and every other white collar parent is a Big Ten (if that) grad who makes a cozy $330k, 550k, even well into 7 figures after working up corporate (finance/marketing/engineering/sales) ladder at an automaker, auto supplier, etc. Mark Fields, former CEO of Ford, was raised in New Jersey, came to Ford after tech consulting at IBM then HBS, and rocketed to becoming youngest CEO in Ford history. His retirement package in his early 50s was $60M.

My point is, i-banking kids are aggressive, smart, and at the top of their class at highly competitive colleges ... then put themselves in investment banking, competing against other super aggressive, smart, top of their class peers from targets! Wouldn't rising the ladder at some flyover state F500 be child's play against the relatively duller competition?

Comments (73)

Most Helpful
Nov 4, 2018

No. You are underestimating the level of talent that exists outside of IB, and overestimating the importance of attending a target school when it comes to real-world business success.

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Nov 4, 2018

I'm sure a target school is helpful in moving up the ranks - especially target MBA

Nov 14, 2018

And you may be overestimating the candlepower of management at flyover state F500s. My friend's mom laughs about being a ditz, how she only has a communications degree from state school. She's a mid-level exec making over 400k a year.

Wall Street feeder colleges are full of kids with 98-99 percentile SAT scores (IQ), 3.8-4.0 GPAs, hyper-ambitious sharks.

F500 in flyover are full of kids who scored 70-90 percentile (IQ), loafed through some state school, go with the flow types.

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Nov 4, 2018

If you are already so sure of the answer, then why did you take the time to ask the question? To have your beliefs reaffirmed?

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Nov 4, 2018

Also, test scores and GPAs are relatively meaningless in the real world.

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Nov 5, 2018

IQ and ambition are meaningless? Yeah, no.

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Nov 5, 2018

Ambition no, but for IQ beyond a certain point it probably doesn't matter as much, now we can debate where that point is, but I think execution and willingness to grind count for a lot more once you reach that threshold. Careers are long and a fair bit is being willing to work late/weekends and being politically savvy. Lots of bright people that I've known with target school backgrounds elect to get off of the the career track deciding that they value work/life balance, spending time with family, etc.

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Nov 11, 2018

This 100%, i'm in medicine and i've seen people smarter than me decide that they want a good work-life balance and chose family medicine.

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Nov 4, 2018

That is a false equivalency, I said test scores and GPAs. Ambition and IQ can be completely separate from those two things. If you think that arbitrary numbers on a piece of paper make a great business person, that's your prerogative.

Nov 10, 2018

You could argue that GPA is a function of ambition

Nov 6, 2018
axecapital17:

IQ and ambition are meaningless? Yeah, no.

In big corporate America, yeah, sort of. Politics, relationship-ing, and being in the right place at the right time are more important than pure talent, if you are trying to quickly climb the ladder. Do they matter, sure, but soft factors tend to be more important than intellectual horsepower.

Also, gunners don't tend to do well in big corporate settings.

Nov 6, 2018

You have to be smart but you don't have to give a shit about GPA or SAT.

Gates and Zuckerberg dropped out not giving a shit but they were still smart enough to get in, that's what matters

Nov 6, 2018

So, while I don't agree with that old thread about people with 3.9 GPAs not having people skills, there has to be some reason the non-rockstars make a good living, e.g., soft skills or some other perceived skills. Or else presumably a fry cook from White Castle could knock off the lady with the 400k salary by taking "only" 250.

This is an oversimplified debate, I don't think there's any doubt about bright driven people seeking banking/consulting jobs (hence the existence of WSO), but the very best in these large public organizations are not pushovers by any means. Go do what you like and kick ass wherever it is.

Nov 8, 2018

haha yea hyper-ambitious sharks with no social skills

Nov 16, 2018

Perhaps you may be reading too much into their personalities and taking modesty as a proxy for lack of intelligence. I had a manager in who was a former Big 3 consultant. He was goofy, and openly admitted his best skills were "client communication" and that he was "no where near some of the others from his firm".

Later found out that he also happens to have been an M7 grad who owns a miniature real estate empire "in his spare time" because he was bored with the free time his role afforded him. Dude was a wolf in goofy looking sheepskin.

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Nov 10, 2018

^This. I went to a target school but there's so many kids from my high school who opted to go to a non-target that were leagues above intelligence than me. Often times the difference in getting into a school over someone else is a connection (could be for sports, recommendation letters), an extra point on a standardized test score, or a type of profile the school is looking for. The selection process can be a crapshoot, so why do you think climbing the ladder at a F500 would not?

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Nov 4, 2018

IB preps you very well for IB and finance but the skill set outside of those areas is limited. Consultants work very well in F500s because their background in MC or Strategy exposes them to a wider skill set to be used in the whole organisation. But besides the MC vs IB debate, when it comes to pivoting to F500s a lot of IB guys would go into their finance divisions which are 2nd tier to the main offering. Want to work for a FAANG? The CS guys and engineers are going to be in the spotlight. Want to work for Big Pharma? The scientists and market access people will be running the show. Finance is an ancillary division to the core offerings of most F500s hence why if you want to make big bucks and be a big shot post IB, pivoting to PE or HF is a better choice (IMO) than F500.

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Nov 4, 2018

What about corp strat/dev? I thought they take a bunch of IB guys?

Nov 4, 2018

Yes, they do take in people but this number is lower than consultants

Nov 4, 2018

Understandable - I always thought this was due to self-selection since most ibankers enter PE but it makes sense that MC has a wider skillset

Nov 4, 2018

This is assuming that a) many people on the fast-paced high finance path want to switch to a much slower paced corp ladder grind, b) finance folks want to leave their global, financial hub cities for a flyover state corp HQ and c) that aiming for some cushy junior exec level gig is the ultimate aim for the average high finance kid..

I would wager none of those assumptions hold.

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Nov 4, 2018

Your names DukeED23 so it sounds like you're a high school senior. Have you ever actually worked in a company? F500 companies aren't full of hapless idiots and it takes more than being good at excel and financial modeling to make it in a F500

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Nov 4, 2018

What does it take? Politics and Luck?

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Nov 4, 2018

Plenty of both of those. Have to be good at managing many teams/people. It's incredibly difficult to become a CEO or CFO of a F500 type firm. Sure the typical person in banking is more accomplished at an early age than most, but that still doesn't mean the odds are even decent when there are tens of thousands of employees you have to beat out. To become CEO with an IB background, you probably would have to start in Corp dev, eventually broaden your skill set to include Treasury activities, then become Treasurer, then CFO, then CEO. I'd guess there are currently no more than 6-7 former IB/Corp dev guys who rose to CEO at F500 or S&P 500 companies.

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Nov 4, 2018

Are the odds that much better for MBB consultants?

Nov 14, 2018

Why focus on CFO/CEO as if there aren't hundreds/thousands of execs at every Fortune 500 that make an insane amount of money with less than stellar credentials and intellect?

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Nov 4, 2018

You keep focusing on credentials and intellectual but the thing is no one really cares if you went to Duke or Harvard if you can't produce results. Unlike finance, a lot of corporations couldn't care less where you went to school when they're hiring you, as long as you'll be able to produce results. Also, most business functions aren't intellectually hard. You don't need to be a genius to lead an FP&A and Treasury function. Just because you got a 3.8 in Financial Engineering at Columbia, worked at Morgan Stanley and are an excel wizard doesn't mean you'll be a good leader who drives results in a corporation.

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Nov 4, 2018

^ This.

Nov 5, 2018

excellent points

Nov 5, 2018
MarthaStewartsAFelon:

You keep focusing on credentials and intellectual but the thing is no one really cares if you went to Duke or Harvard if you can't produce results. Unlike finance, a lot of corporations couldn't care less where you went to school when they're hiring you, as long as you'll be able to produce results. Also, most business functions aren't intellectually hard. You don't need to be a genius to lead an FP&A and Treasury function. Just because you got a 3.8 in Financial Engineering at Columbia, worked at Morgan Stanley and are an excel wizard doesn't mean you'll be a good leader who drives results in a corporation.

[implying becoming an average executive at a Fortune 500 has anything to do with "results" or "production"]

Hilariously naive take.

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Nov 6, 2018

Agreed if you add "or the average MBB consultant or junior banker." There just aren't as many amazing people in the world as the self proclaimed amazing people would like to think.

Nov 14, 2018
MarthaStewartsAFelon:

You keep focusing on credentials and intellectual but the thing is no one really cares if you went to Duke or Harvard if you can't produce results. Unlike finance, a lot of corporations couldn't care less where you went to school when they're hiring you, as long as you'll be able to produce results. Also, most business functions aren't intellectually hard. You don't need to be a genius to lead an FP&A and Treasury function. Just because you got a 3.8 in Financial Engineering at Columbia, worked at Morgan Stanley and are an excel wizard doesn't mean you'll be a good leader who drives results in a corporation.

this.

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Nov 5, 2018

It's impossible to become CEO without some sort of banking experience

Fuckin my way thru nyc one chick at a time

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Nov 4, 2018

This is just false.

Nov 7, 2018

^Uh ...no. My brother was the CEO of a biotech firm and was never a banker. He was at MBB for 5 yrs and was recruited away to run a division of a company and then recruited away to be a CEO - fairly common practice.

Nov 10, 2018

hahah please /s next time

Nov 15, 2018

I have seen some people make the jump from IB to PE and then to VP of Finance, Treasurer, or CFO positions before. I don't think a move from IB to F500 is impossible for someone in IB. Like anything it may just take extra steps, making the right connections, and developing a better skill set.

Nov 5, 2018

It's impossible to become a Fortune 500 ceo without banking experience. Don't be ridiculous

Fuckin my way thru nyc one chick at a time

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Nov 4, 2018

That's just simply untrue. If you want to be a public company CFO you'd be better served starting your career as an auditor at a Big4.

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Nov 5, 2018

.

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Nov 4, 2018

Could you please provide a link to that article or the exact article name. I googled but couldn't find anything; I'd be interested in reading the article because your post sounds like a pile of BS

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Nov 4, 2018

Ahhhh yes if you can't model or use excel like a banking analyst you can't become CEO. Who knew they gave out PE-like case studies to CEO candidates

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Nov 5, 2018
EliteStudent11:

It's impossible to become a Fortune 500 ceo without banking experience. Don't be ridiculous

I used to think like this. But in reality, the only true benefit by going the banking route (elite target institution --> IB SA -- > IB Analyst -->PE or Corp Dev --> elite target MBA) is within that realm. Like I think you it helps to go that path if you want to be in those social circles, but it literally means nothing if you don't succeed socially.

I don't think anyone, people in general, care about your school. If you go to Harvard and the person on the other side of the table similarly goes to a school like Harvard as you, there may be some implicit bias in whether your call will be taken. I'm sure if you want to attend similar events, it probably helps for your name to pop up in the same year book as one of those guys. But no one actually cares.

The whole "traditional path" thing, is just a complex infrastructure built up by those institutions that doesn't hold a lot of actual weight in the real world. People just want you to:

speak like them,

think like them,

act like them,

and still to this day look like them.

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Nov 6, 2018

The folks pulling down $350k+ at F500 are mostly 50+ years old. I'd like to have some wealth while I'm young enough to enjoy it...

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Nov 6, 2018

The grind at a F500 is ridiculous even if you're the best at your job. Because these firms aren't "up or out", and doing an average job won't necessarily get you canned, even if you're the most ambitious super employee your climb will be slow and steady. And there always ends up being a bottleneck at ~Director level; when comp hits 200K plus and perks like car allowances start to materialize no one wants to leave, and those who've made it to that point are pretty damned talented and/or politically astute. You'd better hope to get a tap on the shoulder offering to groom you for the C-level by then...or just move somewhere like Kansas to ascend at firm #4XX of the F500.

Juxtapose that with bankers pulling in 300K in their late 20s, in cities everyone wants to be in while eating what they kill come bonus time and the upside is just way more attractive.

Nov 4, 2018

+SB, spot on.

Funniest
Nov 6, 2018

Let's sum up WSO user base:

User group 1: I can easily hit over $300k a year

User group 2: I know someone (who knows someone) who easily hits over $300k a year

User group 3: I can't get interviews and my GPA is a 2.4

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Nov 6, 2018

Corporate salaries on this site are WAY overstated.

If you make over $400k you are running your own P&L and have real stress and lots of politics and factors outside your control. And you're likely pushing 60 or you're connected like a spider web. Also those people are real VPs and part of the 0.01% of the company. If you like those stats I would actually suggest you start your own business.

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Nov 4, 2018

Yep. Except for maybe Tech, essentially no one under 40 is hitting $400k+.

Nov 4, 2018

Doubtful about the average junior/mid-level VP ($400k is pretty low for a more tenured or senior VP) being 60. Probably closer to late 40s to mid 50s.

A few of my friends parents are rising/have risen up the VP+ ranks of top O&G companies and they are definitely nowhere near 60.

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Nov 7, 2018

This.

Every other parent is not making 400k+ in some flyover BS F500 company in the Midwest.

Despite having a director or VP title, comp can vary widely by department.

Some companies give out meaningless titles that sound more senior than they are. Heard tech is guilty of this (manger of nobody), but the stock options outweigh that I guess.

In my own industry, I'm aware of "'managers" who make more than directors / VPs at other companies.

Sure companies are bureaucratic and fat, but they don't hand out ~400k pay packages to everyone who puts in their 20 years of service or whatever. You're going to be actually responsible for shit at that pay level.

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Nov 6, 2018

The OPs assertions are terrible and from there this might be devolving into one of the worst WSO threads in a long time (and that's saying something). @AndyLouis I'd honestly consider shutting this one down.

I haven't read every comment on this thread, but it seems that most have no idea what they're talking about. At the risk of running late to lunch I'll point out a few things of the top of my head:
1. Few people in F500 make "$330k, $550k, even well into 7 figures". There are certainly some, but Id guess it to be .5%-1% of most F500s clearing $500k. If you grew up in an area where this was common then you have serious selection bias.
2. Elite education and top tier backgrounds are helpful, but that benefit ends. Eventually you have to be some combination of good at your job, political, lucky, etc... To succeed at high levels in the long run, you need to produce.
3. Most F500 jobs require a certain level of intelligence. Anything above that is great, but after that certain level it becomes much more about execution, politics, luck, etc... I'm sure there is a large concentration of this board that would test higher than I do, but I'm also sure there is a small concentrations that is or will advance further in a F500 than I have.
4. I see Corp Dev/Strat on this board all the time. They are good roles, but there are VERY few of them. Also, they're fairly niche. I'd bet that the average F500 company has 1 Corp Dev or Strat person making your $330k+ (certainly some have more, many have zero).

twitter: @CorpFin_Guy

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Nov 6, 2018

Great comment and good stopping point for thread

Nov 7, 2018

You guys crack me up with your assumptions of what the real world makes. I'm 54 and have been around the block. Had I stayed in the corporate world I would be EVP, Head of Sales, etc. Have man, many "successful" friends my age:
Partners at law firms = 1M+
Partners at regional accounting firms (350ish)
F500 CFOs 2M (mainly in equity. Salary about 500k)
Business owners - 500k - 10M
Corporate VPs - 350 ish (200 base and 75% bonus) They likely do get another 100k in stock

These guys have worked their whole lives to get where they are. Some are HSW. Some were MBB, Some were Big4, Some were F500 FLDP. SOme likely were entry level IB and left.

It's definitely possible to make high 6 figure and even 7 figures in IB or any of these paths. NONE of them are easy. Along the way you will meet brilliant people who are doing great and. they graduated from direction state U. I know plenty of them. I'm one of them. Both of the F500 CFOs are too. Put them in the pool with a bunch of HSW guys and they'd still get the gig because there that guy! (Oh yeah - they did because they were that guy)

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Nov 7, 2018

I question the certification function of this site sometimes.

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Nov 6, 2018

Care to elaborate? Rickle had the most reasonable range thus far based on what I've seen

Nov 7, 2018

Feel like people here get votes based on being certified sometimes.

Irrelevant that he nailed what a big 4 partner and law partner make. Rest of the post has Minimal value re: topic at hand, but the discussion is about corporate development competitiveness relative to others.

The TLDR that most people who have worked in Corp dev will tell you the same thing: comp varies widely from company to company based on HR flexibility and corporate commitment to acquisitions and/or strategy.

I know directors who make 400k at company A and ~225k at company B, including face value of equity when granted. I'm sure Netflix and big tech companies have some outliers that Crush that.

Somebody else posted about soft skills and leadership / team-building mattering more and that's 100% right, too.

Nov 6, 2018

Fair points, agreed

Nov 7, 2018

The point of my rant was, based on the responses in the thread and many similar threads, that most young IBers think: A. they're smarter then everyone and, B. Because of A, they could just move over and rake. It doesn't work like that.

Just like the smartest IBer won't necessarily be the one to climb the IB latter because smarts, beyond smart enough to be in the room, has almost nothing to do with it. The senior levels are about leadership, acumen, sales ability (huge - you're completely blind if you don't recognize this - comes in many forms, internal and external), relationship building, etc.

So the young aggressive IB analyst or associate who is doing a great job and is very intelligent doesn't automatically get to move to F500 and make 500k+ because:

1, Most in F500 never make 500k+
2. The senior jobs are generally filled internally (C suites change externally but that's generally based on the network of the board)
3. Young IBer may suck in the culture of the F500 firm (or may not be that good at the actual role which is no longer about getting the deal, but rather living with and implementing the deal, and providing leadership)

I'd say it's actually the other way around. Virtually anyone with an interest in finance, a certain level of intelligence, and determination (grind ability) could be trained to do the job of IB analysts, assoc, etc. They all couldn't be MDs because they don't have the balls. Neither do most of you which is why so few of you will be MDs. However, you have access due to being good enough to got o a top school (which is fare - you did the work to get to that top school and they target them because they can - supply and demand) What you do with your opportunities will be up to how you develop those softer skills that are required for business development. Nobody moves past level X anywhere if they can't get checks.

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Nov 7, 2018

I think we're on the same page for the most part.

One of the largest differences is definitely culture and the fact that no everyone is trying to move up the ladder. For personal reason, family commitments,etc. not as high numerically re: people gunning for a position or promotion, but same relative level of competition.

Nov 21, 2018

Could you elaborate on the 'having balls', part?

Nov 8, 2018

Once you reach a certain level of intelligence, it stops counting for much in terms of career growth.

Once you're "good enough", other factors like interpersonal skills, appearance, conscientiousness, resilience and luck, begin to factor more heavily in your success than raw IQ and ambition.

At a certain point in your career, everyone around you will likely be "good enough".

Nov 7, 2018

^ is so true! To get to the top spots or even close, it's not about intelligence, or even technical skills (gets way less important the higher you go). It's about leadership. Being able to manage teams and get them to produce great outcomes. Very different skill set than the guy or gal who is simply super smart and does fine work.

Nov 10, 2018

I think that HS and College juniors (around here) have a very, very romanticized view of bankers. Like they're super-human people that excel at everything they touch, and will translate those skills (with ease) into every other endeavor.

Once you enter the workforce, you will soon discover that who climbs the ladder, depends on a ton of other factors, than just having gone to the right school, then a stint at IB, and a target B. School.

Hell, sometimes a promotion will boil down to whether the other person likes you or not. Things you have zero control over, no mater how driven, ambitious or hard-working you are.

And you can rest assured that there are people at "average" F500 firms that have worked just as hard as the cookie-cutter MBB IBD banker, even though you've gone to different types of schools, and worked different types of jobs.

Nov 11, 2018

One thing i've learned from working at a hedge fund from talking to executives is that they aren't impressive. to be clear, i talk to a current or former F500 executive on a daily basis for diligence. the concept that an elite level of business acumen what differentiates the greatest successes appears to me to be untrue, except in cases of a few genuine, standout successes (like we can agree that Jeff Bezos is visionary and truly brilliant). I don't even think that they have an impressive business acumen or a phenomenal expertise in their own industries. Most of the executives I have spoken to tend to talk a certain way, but I have never felt like they possessed some "magic" set of capabilities that a mere mortal from a state school could not have. They are just normal people and there is nothing remarkable about them.

The reality is that aptitude is wholly unknowable and so the concept that it puts you ahead is just hard for me to believe. If i pitch a good investment at work, was it skill or luck? if i miss an excellent opportunity, was it that i made the percentage play by passing or did i truly miss something? the same questions arise at a company. if the division does well, is it because the industry / market was strong, or was it my doing? even if it is possible to parse out reality with the facts, the truth is nobody has the time or willingness to do this exercise. moreover, there's far too many ways of masquerading as being worthy of merit. ... Suppose you did well for your firm, but you did it by taking an unacceptable set of risks that only materialize over a long time span... were you a good employee? Probably not, but by then you are long gone and it is someone else's problem. The reality is that at the time you were there taking those risks, you probably got paid handsomely for it, because most people are simply not clever enough to know the difference.

The premise behind most of the answers in this thread is that it's intelligence and capability that help you advance. I am not sure whether this is obviously true, because the reality is that others cannot truly assess your capability nor will they ever have this ability. I think there's a far broader spectrum of traits that actually do tend to matter. In particular, an (1) ability to dedicate oneself to one important task for a long time (which requires, among other things, that you are healthy and engaged for a long time, as well as engaged in a task that was worth doing to begin... this is true of nearly every executive I speak with) with, (2) an ability and, more importantly, willingness to "act" in a certain way (every executive I speak with talks the part and are knowledgeable to the extent it allows them to avoid ever betraying this part), (3) a knowledge of where the scissors are kept (just like mom knows where she keeps the scissors, executives tend to know peculiarities of how to get things done that is idiosyncratic but that do not require brilliance) and (4) if highly successful, started their careers somewhere that is a hotbed for talent (an elite bank if a finance job, a leading oil firm if an oil company, a leading university if dropout tech startup founder, etc... the reality is we live in an unequal society too, so most successful people tended to come from elite backgrounds to begin with).

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Nov 14, 2018

As an employee of a fairly large but entrepreneurial corporate (e.g., deal-driven, fast-growing, engaged in start-up operations, turnarounds, etc.), I disagree that it is particularly difficult to observe the success of managers in running their businesses. Sure, luck can play a role, but in a commoditized, cyclical industry like mine it is very easy to distinguish between a favorable market and strong execution. Sure, established businesses might tend to run on auto-pilot, but there are plenty of tangible "KPIs" so to speak for managers you can benchmark. Are the contracts you negotiate more or less favorable than peers', are your realized prices better (i.e., higher for sales, lower for purchases), is operating efficiency in line with the technical best levels, are you growing volumes, removing bottlenecks, etc. The point may be that all good managers are the same, but all bad managers are different (in a given context).

Nov 14, 2018
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Nov 14, 2018

This thread is getting a little ridiculous, but let's hold our horses re: talking about shutting down threads. Ridiculous posts from genuinely curious people are OK -- as long as those with real experience chime in and clearly indicate WHY they know what they're talking about.

Look, there are tons of kids on this site who don't know anything about anything, or have several (I think obvious) preconceived notions. If you're seasoned and have a -- real world -- perspective then continue to share it. These perspectives are immensely helpful in dispatching the bullsh*t that sometimes permeates this site.

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Nov 15, 2018

Clearly I had the wrong friends growing up. I'm amazed at how many of you must see all your friends parents tax returns because I have no idea what they make at their job. Obviously you can make assumptions based on lifestyle but I would like to introduce you to this little concept called debt.

Also, maybe your friend tells you exactly what their parents make. Of course a 16 year old knows his parents finances perfectly and would never lie.

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Nov 15, 2018
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