Leaving finance to run family business

Am144's picture
Rank: Monkey | 53

Hi guys,

I have worked in business development / strategic FP&A roles at a major BB for the past two years since graduating college- The work, although not as prestigious as IB, was challenging and had some rewarding aspects-

My ultimate goal however is to pursue a JD/MBA at a top program- I performed very well on the LSAT and want to start studying for the GMAT this summer. The latest I would want to start school is 2012/2013.

That being said, I have been offered a promotion, (out of my analyst program), to AVP- I am weighing that against returning home and helping to manage my family business, an ethnic restaurant in Western PA, before I return to school. (Approx 850K in FY Revenue)

We have been in the restaurant business for 16 years, and customer flow and sales are booming- The problem is that we lack effective management and cost control. ( No real inventory management, out dated cash control systems, and general disorganization.) I know the he potential to increase NIBT is tremendous with some basic changes. My mom, who cooks, makes amazing food, and our local community loves her, but she's too overhwelmed with large scale caterings to focus on actual management of the business.

Having been away at college for 4 years, I havent been able to go home often enough to help my parents enact some of these changes. I think I could accomplish a lot in a year, and really help them get this on the right track. My parents are old fashioned in a sense and dont fully understand much of the technology available to help them. We are in the midst of a 600K expansion of the premises and kitchen, so this is a great time to start these changes. '

I guess my questions are

1.) Would this gap in "corporate" employment look bad on my resume?

2.) Do you think this could help diversify my life experiences and outlook as I apply to graudate school

Thanks in advance for your advice,

Comments (20)

May 23, 2011
sks144:

Would this gap in "corporate" employment look bad on my resume?

To a top-tier MBA admission committee?

May 23, 2011

Yes, and just long term ( to employers post MBA)

May 23, 2011

Few comments

  1. The job you are doing right now sounds quite interesting, and I think it would look impressive for grad school
  2. 850K revenue is pretty low for a restaurant, so even if you optimize/streamline everything, it is highly unlikely you will squeeze more than 5% additional margin out of it, and hence your opportunity cost far exceeds the benefit you could provide. Also, do you have any actual experience working there?
  3. Working at your parents' restaurant will look like you couldn't cut it in the corporate world, came back to live at home, started helping your parents wash dishes, and then fluffed your resume because your parents will confirm whatever you want them to. Then a bit later, in an attempt to get back into the corporate world, you decided to spend as much time as possible in a grad program (hence JD/MBA combined). This doesn't sound like it is actually the case, but if I saw your story that is what I would think. So be careful - that looks like a big hurdle to overcome in terms of admission
  4. If your parents need your help, then of course family first

I would say take the promotion unless your family needs you at home - from a career and/or monetary point of view, you will be far better off.

Good luck!

May 23, 2011
Dr Joe:

This doesn't sound like it is actually the case, but if I saw your story that is what I would think.

That's a pretty grim view.

Mind explaining why you automatically think the absolute worst of individuals? Are you @ an adcom?

May 23, 2011
DurbanDiMangus:
Dr Joe:

This doesn't sound like it is actually the case, but if I saw your story that is what I would think.

That's a pretty grim view.

Mind explaining why you automatically think the absolute worst of individuals? Are you @ an adcom?

I'll try to explain what I meant by this. I am not saying that I think the OP is in that situation. I am, however, saying, that a 3rd party could (is possibly likely to) suspect something along those lines, and that risk is something the OP might want to consider. I believe the OP asked how this would look to others who are evaluating him based on his resume and experience, and possibly essays, which can also be fluffed.

I do not think the absolute worst of individuals, but if I was in the OP's shoes, I would want to know what the worst someone can [reasonably] think of me is before making a choice of this magnitude. Especially knowing that he will be asking others to judge him in the near future (admission cycle).

No, I am not part of any adcom. Just sharing my 0.02.

May 23, 2011

Running a restaurant would be a MASSIVE step down. You are about to be an AVP at a large bank in a strategic role? That is impressive (B-School Adcoms, contrary to popular belief, do not ejaculate upon reading the letters, "IBD." This promotion could lead to big things, in terms of B-School admissions or other career prospects).

Running your family business is honorable, but let's face it: no one will be impressed in the corporate world or in a B-school admissions committee. For the rest of your life, your resume will read as if you flamed out of the finance/banking world, and ended up at a diner in Altoona, PA. This move won't just affect your B-School aps: It could affect your long term career trajectory.

Try to help with the restaurant from afar - even if that means using vacations and flying in every weekend. The sacrifice of your free time is far less than the sacrifice of your finance career.

If that doesn't work, call Robert Irvine from that Restaurant Impossible show on the Food Network.

May 23, 2011
Buyside <span class=keyword_link><a href=https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?ii=1145861&am... rel=nofollow>CFA</a></span>:

For the rest of your life, your resume will read as if you flamed out of the finance/banking world

so what?

May 23, 2011
DurbanDiMangus:
Buyside <span class=keyword_link><a href=https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?ii=1145861&am... rel=nofollow>CFA</a></span>:

For the rest of your life, your resume will read as if you flamed out of the finance/banking world

so what?

So what? The kid CLEARLY STATED That he wants to go to B-School. No one is advising him to be a slave to prestige. We are giving this kid solid advice. Leaving a corporate strategy AVP position to run a restaurant is undeniably a poor choice if you want to go to B-School.

In the op's words: "MY ULTIMATE GOAL HOWEVER IS TO PURSUE A JD/MBA AT A TOP PROGRAM"

Why are you getting so defensive? No one is telling him to give up his dream - it seems that B-Schools as more of a dream. You are reacting as if his post started with, "Hey, I have always wanted to work in restaurants but I am stuck in a boring banking job. Should I turn down the promotion to follow my dream?"

Seriously, it seems like you have been saving this rant for awhile and decided this was the topic to unleash it. Calm down.

May 23, 2011

Additionally, mathematically speaking, I don't think my theory is too far off.

OP is currently in FP&A at a BB, a solid job. He will then end up working in his parents' restaurant for a significant (6-12 months maybe?) period of time. I suppose there could be many reasons for this, but I can think of 4:

  1. OP's case - have the money, want to help parents
  2. Mental health issues / emotional breakdown
  3. Was about to get fired
  4. Other

Of the people that leave finance after a couple years to work in a restaurant, which do you think is most common? If I had to guess, 15% option 1, 40% option 2, 30% option 3, and 15% option 4. I obviously swagged at the numbers, but from my experience of working in a restaurant for 3 years in high-school/early college, they are in the ballpark.

Well the implication here is that in retrospect, you will be evaluated as someone who left finance to work in a restaurant, and will be assumed (correctly) to fit into one of the above groups. Without knowing you, however, many will give you that distribution of probabilities as to why you left, and I am sure you can see that doesn't look good. Even if your applying to business school takes away 1/2 of option 2 (not crazy), good recs take away half of option 3 (not fired), etc, your story being true and not having a undisclosed reason is still less than 30% likely.

Just something to consider. I know my math might be off, but I think the point is clear. Good luck to the OP.

May 23, 2011
Dr Joe:

I think the point is clear.

So DrJoe when does it end? When do ppl stop being slaves to prestige and their resume? When can this poor bstrd say "peace out" and join his parents' restaurant? What if he grows that restaurant to $5MM in sales? What level of sales is "acceptable" to adcoms? is it $10MM in sales? is it $20MM? Tell us.

May 23, 2011
DurbanDiMangus:
Dr Joe:

I think the point is clear.

So DrJoe when does it end? When do ppl stop being slaves to prestige and their resume? When can this poor bstrd say "peace out" and join his parents' restaurant? What if he grows that restaurant to $5MM in sales? What level of sales is "acceptable" to adcoms? is it $10MM in sales? is it $20MM? Tell us.

People can stop being slaves to prestige and their resume whenever they want - it is their choice. However, the OP was clearly concerned about how this would look to adcoms/employers, and it would not look good. That is my only point. He can certainly quit if and when he desires, but actions have implications, and perception is often reality, and hence must be considered.

The only reason that sales is relevant is because of the possible value-add the OP could provide, and with 850K of sales, it is not much. If it was a 10mm restaurant, then adding 5% to margins would be well-worth the OP's time, and opportunity cost would no longer exceed marginal benefit. But in this situation it does.

Durban, I am not trying to be confrontational, just trying to help...

May 23, 2011

I understand the sentiment of doing what you are passionate about, but if you can wait, I would give it one more year.

Dr. Joe provides an accurate probability distribution for an analyst with 12-15 months of work experience. At 24 months, though, the probability/negative aspects of #3 starts to decrease. There are a lot of opportunities for management to fire you between 6 months and 24- especially during the layoffs we've been through over the past two years- where analysts have been getting kicked to the curb, and if you managed to hold onto a job for two years, it shows that you're at least probably not an idiot.

OP needs to tack on one more year to remove the vast majority of the remaining doubt about him being crazy or stupid. If you can survive three years- and get promoted to Associate, it is much more likely that you left for personal reasons than stuff that would make a hiring manager concerned. You're still giving up a whole lot by interrupting your career, but it's likely that you'll be able to return to banking at your old rank if it's a good year for hiring.

Three years used to be the point at which at least a few banks allowed you to take an unpaid 3-6 month sabbatical and guarantee you your old job back if your manager approved. It's understandable to get a little tired after three or four years of working 70 hour weeks. Keyword here is three or four. If time is of the essence- and your family wants you to help out ASAP, I can't stop you- and it could be worse- you could be leaving after one year. But if you've got time, stick it out one more year.

May 24, 2011

Hate to be a negative nancy but I'm with Buyside CFA. That is a tiny operation. Think about the ways in which you'll be spending your time and the sophistication, or lack thereof, of the experience you'll gain. I'd at least do 3 years first, as illini suggested.

Now, if you were quitting to start your OWN restaurant from scratch, that might be another story.

May 24, 2011

Thank you everyone for your advice- I really appreciate it

May 24, 2011
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