Exiting from Corporate Development

guitarman9470's picture
Rank: Monkey | 58

WSO Community,

I'm finishing up my first year at a private ~Fortune 500 company in their corporate development group (M&A, VC investments, some JVs, board presentations). The company's industry is loosely classified as business services. I was incredibly lucky to get this opportunity after two years of non-IB experience. I thought it would be the perfect combination of work-life, money, and intellectual stimulation. I do generally love the work but I'm finding that the people don't share the same drive as me and I'm definitely getting underpaid for my title / position. My plan is to make it two years and move on.

Basically I view myself as having three potential exit opportunities, all of which intrigue me. I'm interested in MM PE, MM IB (ideally as an associate), or moving to a new corporate development group (with growth opportunities) where the hours are a bit more but the pay is significantly better.

I'm wondering how difficult these transitions may be, especially if I have a strong preference to avoid getting my MBA. An MBA is still on the table but I would prefer to save the time / money and focus my efforts elsewhere.

Thanks in advance!

Comments (75)

Sep 22, 2017
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Sep 23, 2017

Wow, very helpful. Thanks for sending the link. How's your search going? What path are you considering venturing down?

In regards to my banking comment - do you think there are opportunities out there in MM IB for an associate hire with ~3 years of corp dev experience? I'd be pretty bummed to only enter as an analyst and, like I mentioned, would strongly prefer avoiding b-school if possible.

Sep 23, 2017

Gonna be tough to make associate without entering from bschool with your background. Maybe at a smaller boutique.

Sep 24, 2017

No problem, this seems to be a niche topic on the forum so I'm glad to help out any way I can.

I'm looking to move into PE if at all possible. Moving into PE seems to be incredibly challenging from my position given that nearly every single PE associate that I've seen has moved from banking and the fact that I haven't found any people who have started in CD and then moved into PE.

Sep 26, 2017

I would imagine that being driven would be enough. I have a similar problem, I really feel under utilised at work and am thus also looking for another firm to work for. I think you should really be frank with your current employers first before moving on. That will help you out when making the decision to stay or leave.

Corp. Fin. Analyst currently working two finance jobs (and a teaching gig and trying to save my music production solo career). I love avocado's. And yes Cape Town is the most beautiful place in the world. Don't believe me, come thru and find out.

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Sep 26, 2017

I'm in a similar situation... entering a corp dev role with 2 years of non-IB experience and have the same career interests as you.

Going to follow this thread--good luck.

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Jan 15, 2018

And? Which of the three paths did you take eventually? What's your experience so far?

Jan 15, 2018

care to elaborate on how your peers don't share the same drive?

don't underestimate the role if you love the work. you're two years out of school...focus on getting the best experience not the highest paying role. if you're getting good experience then consider staying. take the long-term view on your career...it will pay off later. you may feel underpaid now (common complaint) - and i dont know your comp - but imagine how underpaid you think you will be when you're spinning 70-90 hours in PE/IB.

Apr 24, 2018

Didn't want to start a new thread but a somewhat relevant post to the one posted here.

For any of you guys are mid-level Corp Dev guys (Manager/Sr Manager), where do you guys typically exit to?

I think banking is pretty much out of the question (no previous sell-side experience) but would be open. I would like to move to a pure investing role at a Lower MM PE firm but not sure how likely that move is for someone with my skill set.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

TIA

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Apr 24, 2018

I worked in corporate development for 4 years. Here's my breakdown of where I've seen peers exit:

Corporate Development 20%
Investment Banking 20%
PE/VC 10%
Corporate Finance 30%
Startup/Entrepreneurship 10%
Other (operations, financial advisory, etc) 10%

Apr 24, 2018

I'm assuming those who went back into banking/PE/VC already had banking experience prior?

Apr 25, 2018

was corporate ventures lumped into your group's responsibilities, or strictly traditional M&A/JVs?

Apr 24, 2018

Also interested.

@BankerC159 what type of deals / modeling have you done in your corp dev experience? Have you have done LBO modeling and/or worked on deals with PE sponsors (therefore maybe fostering a good relationship with them?)? If not, it would be even more of a challenge to transition to PE. I know of one Corp Dev guy that moved to a PortCo at a PE to do Corp Dev / Ops as part of his longer-term pursuit to get into that PE, but I suspect this is not the type of experience or journey you would be interested in.

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Apr 24, 2018

I do have LBO modeling experience, never on a live deal but I've prepared LBOs for internal use and have taken TTT LBO modeling course (prob doesn't pull much weight) but I'd say my modeling skills are pretty strong - at least that's the feedback I've gotten from my managers who are all ex-bankers.

I haven't been able to foster any relationships with PEs, we don't have too many relationships at the moment with PE/Sponsors in general (especially in the Lower MM space). The relationships I do have are mainly with banks that we get inbounds from.

So I understand it's a tough road ahead for someone like me. I'm really just seeing what my options are.

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Apr 24, 2018

Leading a tiny corp dev team of a startup/early growth firm is a great exit. Challenging role, different responsibilities, and chance to strike it rich if things work out. Can always go back to a big company assuming you have a brand name on your resume.

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Apr 25, 2018

One area I didn't mention was working for a family office. I think that would be a pretty nice gig but those are probably the hardest area to even find roles at.

Apr 25, 2018

I'm a corpdev manager at a mid-sized private pharma company. The corporate development team here is quite lean and we have enormous deal flow. As far as post-corp-dev recruiting goes, I'm basically getting hit up by either other pharma corp dev/strategy teams (offering higher salary) or banks. I'm not really interested in banking so it's unclear what's next. Ideally, I'd like to go to an LEK/Parthenon type of strategy shop (where my experience would be best utilized). If not, I could always go back to bval.

Like other posters here, there appears to be limited opportunity for growth here (though the exposure is fantastic).

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Apr 25, 2018

Just curious, how does the recruiting conversation come up? I'm assuming banks are sending you inbounds and somehow evolves into a recruiting convo?

Apr 25, 2018

It's usually a LinkedIn message --> resume drop --> call. Honestly though, I don't really respond to the IB hits.

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Apr 25, 2018

have you looked into heading up a business line in the company or a broader strategic role within the company (note: no experience with pharmas so your corporate structure may be totally different from what i'm envisioning)

Apr 25, 2018

I'm in basically THE strategy group in the company. All other groups are effectively input centers (i.e., have the raw data via SAP, etc.) to us and we have direct communication to senior management. We also actively guide/support other functional areas (FP&A, financial reporting, marketing, supply chain, etc.). It's basically the corp dev team + the legal team that works with top management on all strategic decisions. So there's really nowhere else for me to go.

Apr 25, 2018

Appreciate the info! If you don't mind, how much is your comp (range is fine too) and what are your hours at this company? Do you feel like you'll be able to leverage the exposure for better opportunities in the future?

Apr 26, 2018

I make what an average BB IB analyst makes and work about half the hours, if that helps. In terms of leveraging exposure to better opportunities, I sure hope so.

I've picked up a tremendous amount of industry knowledge, closed 3 deals and worked on numerous key strategy projects (quantifying optimal legal strategy for new generic product launches, portfolio optimization around salesforce already in place, brand lifecycle management, etc.).

I have a pretty non-traditional background (non-target --> MSF --> Bval --> corpdev) but I'm optimistic.

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Apr 26, 2018

Wow, glad to see this post has so much activity recently. Thanks @Esuric for your contributions.

Update on my life, still with the same company, likely going to be promoted to a post MBA corporate development position in December. Might look at trying to leverage this into an associate role at a MM or lower MM IB or go into another corporate development role.

Jan 29, 2019

Bringing this full circle because I am bored and had the time to read this entire thread, how have things shaken out? Did you end up getting that promotion in December?

I have seen my MM hire corp dev guys in as associates but it is extremely rare and they all were brought into industry teams that related to their prior experience. It is definitely possible to do, but will take a lot of legwork. Networking would be most important, but also maybe showing something tangible that proves your interest in the field (taking TTS course, going to IB Institute or whatever, etc.). Your biggest hurdle would be convincing them why you would want to leave a good & cushy job to get into IB. Most MM banks are more focused on associates being around for long(er) term and would probably be concerned with you bouncing after a year b/c you didn't realize how good you had it in corp dev. Just my random thoughts but am interested to hear how your story is coming.

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Jan 29, 2019

Do you happen to know how these corp dev guys pitched themselves in their IB interviews (i.e did they sell their industry experience hard, etc.)? I'd be curious to know what set them apart from other candidates.

Jan 31, 2019

Good timing actually. The above post was pretty spot on to what happened. I got promoted early at my Corp Dev role and ended up accepting an offer at a main MM firm as a "senior" analyst. The plan is for me to be promoted within 6 - 12 months assuming I don't f*** up.

Couple weeks in and the learning curve hasn't been awful but I might have fallen for the "grass is greener" situation... TBD.

The actual interview process was a breeze. During my time in Corp Dev, I had a lot of good transaction experience and was the sole person in my group responsible for modeling / building decks. So I really didn't feel like I had to sell myself hard and the technicals were a breeze.

Sep 20, 2018

Hi Guys,
Non-Target 3.3GPA

I figured I would post here and include my other post at the following link:

https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/corp-dev-ms...
Anyways, I am a first year acquisitions analyst at a Healthcare management company (senior housing). I wanted to land in IB but did not manage to get an offer. My prior experience includes a 6 month PE internship with a local lower middle market fund. The goal is still to land in IB and leverage that to b-school or PE down the road. I was wondering your guys input on the best route to take.
Ex:
1 year in corp dev > MSF > IB?
2 years in corp dev > B-school>PE/IB?
1 year in corp dev > IB?
etc...
Would love to know your guys thoughts on exit ops and what a good path might be for me. Please feel free to add any follow up questions. I am more than happy to answer. I look forward to your guys responses. Thanks!

Jan 28, 2019

Bump

Jan 28, 2019

Man, I was really drinking the kool aid on this one.

Jan 29, 2019

... on Corp dev being a good place career wise?

Most Helpful
Jan 29, 2019
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