How feasible to get to distressed investing after MM PE in Asia and CBS

Here's my situation.

I joined buyout focused MM PE right after undergrad in Asia (neither China nor Japan) and am now 2-yr associate. During my years, I realized 1) pure buyout PE market in NE Asia becomes more and more saturated (my gut feeling, welcome to feedbacks) and 2) I'm more excited about deal structuring and legal document review than CDD and monitoring process.

Given 1) and 2), I pursued an MBA. My goal is experience distressed investing / special situation in U.S. for several years post-MBA and come back to my home country to establish my own firm in the long-term. I applied to several b-schools last year and was only admitted to Columbia.

However, the COVID-19 changes everything I planned. I am now reconsidering to attend Columbia this fall as the situation will make the recruiting process much difficult especially for internationals like me. On the other hand, my position in the current company is quite solid and promotion to VP is expected in next one or two years.

I still desire to have distressed / special sit. experience in U.S. but am not sure I will have it by attending CBS this fall. As pursuing an MBA in the City is expensive even without opportunity costs, I'd like to hear as many people's opinion as possible.

Any input will be appreciated. Thx!

Comments (18)

Apr 29, 2020 - 5:40am

Imo, you should pursue what you wanted to do. I think spending more days at PE shops in NE Asia will only delay your goal. Unless you are in Blackstone, KKR, MS PE, or etc, your experience in NE Asia would not help your plan. For non-US citizen, you will have little chance to get a job in US after MBA. That is harsh truth, but you could be lucky enough to get an opportunity while in MBA program and an year later your boss might help you get an H1-B visa. Well, that is what I will do at least if I were in your situation.

Apr 29, 2020 - 11:42pm

Since you have different opinion, I got some questions for you.

1) How many years of experience do you think would an asian need before jumping into US?

2) How much do you value the PE experience in NE Asia?

3) Visa is probably the most difficult thing for foreigners. Would she/he have better chance to get support from the firm later on?

Most Helpful
Apr 30, 2020 - 3:28am

Well, it's a difficult move no matter what you do. If you move to US business school you will incur debt, move to a location where you have little/no network, which is the prerequisite for breaking in. Right now, you're at a PE shop and getting paid and building experience. That's not something to be taken for granted. If you've gotten into H/W/S, well ok maybe it's worth rolling the dice. Otherwise, don't do it - not for Columbia, MIT, Booth, Northwestern. And certainly not anything below either. Business school, especially in a post-COVID world is going to be you and 500 other students at your school all jockeying for those coveted PE spots. You've already got one. Why give up a PE
job, move halfway around the world, take on massive debt, lose 2 years of your life, for a 1/50 shot of getting a PE job? There's good reasons to leave a job and go to business school, but I just don't hear one here. Enlighten me if I'm wrong.

  • Analyst 3+ in IB-M&A
Apr 30, 2020 - 1:19am

Visa will be the biggest challenge as 1. recruiters won't take the risk of introducing candidates without H1B and 2. Most firms (excl. MF) don't have precedents of sponsoring H1B themselves.

That's why most int'l IB analysts including myself end up waiting until 2nd yr+ to recruit (usually end up doing 3 years of banking vs. 2).

There are plenty of Koreans with your background attending CBS and other M7 schools. You should check if they were able to secure full-time PE offers without green card/dual citizenship. If that's rare / non-existent, you should reconsider your option. Harsh, but it's getting tougher to secure a job offer even with a stellar school on your resume.

Apr 30, 2020 - 3:39am

I second this. I am curious why a Korean national would be the pick of the litter at CBS for PE. I'm not saying it isn't possible. Candidate has solid background and CBS is excellent. It's just going to be difficult. I don't know how visas work but if that's a further barrier, it won't be easy. Candidate needs an angle. To be honest, I'd rather see him try to get a school-year internship lined in up in NYC first, and use CBS as a stepping stone having already a job ready for him. Otherwise risk factor of quitting a PE job and moving is quite high.

BTW what's the obsession w/ moving to US? You're probably more competitive in Korea. Korea is awesome. Food is great, good public transport, crazy night life,and you're a better fit. NYC is great too but keep in mind you'll be at a competitive disadvantage.

  • Associate 2 in VC
May 24, 2020 - 6:48am

I think OP wants a super shiny name and gold star experience on his resume for when he goes out fundraising from LPs for his own fund (a long time from now obviously). And comp in Korea, even for PE, isn't the greatest since the deals aren't the best - significantly behind NYC and HK.

I get why OP is mulling it over. If it works out, he'd be better off re: his long term goals even if he's out a couple years of salary and experience. On the other hand, he is leaving money and years of experience on the table for what might be a long shot (though he honestly could go back to PE in Seoul after CBS if nothing else works out).

Depends on OP's risk tolerance, I'd say. I agree with earthwalker - ask around, do some research, see if you can actually accomplish what you want to do before pulling the trigger.

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