Meeting with near Fortune 500 CEO - How do I go about it?

Econman's picture
Rank: Chimp | 8

I am currently a freshman in college and have been networking for an internship, and just to get my name out there (I go to a non-target school). A near fortune 500 company, who mainly focuses on manufacturing, operates their HQ in the city I attend school at. They recently promoted their CFO to CEO, and I reached out to him. A professor of mine who is more or less of a mentor, told me that he is the most intelligent man he's ever met, and that Wall St. loves him. I wasn't expecting to hear anything back, but he asked me to get coffee with him this week. How would you guys approach this? Do I try to sell myself for a finance-related internship at his company? Or should I focus more on building a connection, and possibly a mentor? I would assume that he'd have connections to IB's, which I would need in the future, as again, I go to a non-target. Anyways, is there any other suggestions you guys may have for me? Such as conversation topics, questions for him, etc.

Comments (43)

Feb 1, 2016

I think having this guy as a mentor will be immensely more valuable than just asking for a hookup on a job. Over time, you could leverage this to get an internship at the company if he is impressed. People love talking about themselves. For the first meeting you may want to discuss his career path, his company, and his industry. If you have some rockstar insights relating to things the company currently has going on, this would be an ideal time to bring them up as tidbits for conversation.

From there, you can gain enough insights into what interests him to maintain the relationship between now and when you are looking for work. Congratulate him on big news that comes through (such as achievements in the industry, unique approaches the business takes) or occasionally pass along personal tidbits he may find interesting.

Good luck!

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Feb 1, 2016

As someone who thought he was useful as a freshman, I can say that freshman know absolute jack shit about anything. Even many junior interns are more of a cost than a benefit. You're not going to be able to add value for him, so like Managerette said, make a connection. This is a guy that probably has an insane amount of connections, and he'd be extremely valuable to have as a mentor.

Feb 1, 2016

I usually went for personal questions/getting to know them, then to firm specific questions, then ask if they are looking to hire any interns/analysts. I'm sure he knows what you're looking to get out of it, so just make a good impression.

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Feb 1, 2016

Hello BankerC159,
I guess the best you can do is show him what a benefit you would be to his company and maybe research his company to see if there are any projects/current issues that you have any thoughts on.
Beyond this, even the biggest exec. is human after all and there has to be a connection on an interpersonal level.
Best of luck!

Feb 1, 2016

Let them do the talking and dictate the direction of the meeting. I learned that from meeting a chairman and a couple of department heads last summer, I just sat there listening to their tales, analogies, and agreeing with them whilst also displaying intelligence through smart commentary.

Feb 1, 2016

Has meeting with a high up exec ever led to a direct job offer in anyone's case? I'm not sure if they have any openings, but I'm hoping if the meeting goes well it will lead to one.

Thanks

Feb 1, 2016

Also, I was wondering if anyone had thoughts on how to dress for a meeting like this?

I was going to assume just a suit and tie as if it was an interview. But I'm not sure if meetings like this call for something different.

Feb 2, 2016

suit and tie, play it safe.

Feb 2, 2016

well selling yourself to him will be up to you. But if i can offer any advice, its to not be intimated by him because of his position. You should go into it knowing that he's human as well and that he can make mistakes just like everyone else.

I've had meetings with people where I somtimes felt overly tense and felt like I had to make a really strong impression just because they were the president of PE or head of investment banking and those ones never really went well.

Go in confident,relaxed and be personable and if it goes well he will openly offer you something without you brining it up. He knows why your there.

Feb 2, 2016

Relaxing will go a long way. Make sure you have a good story for why you're there... it's a bit hard to help without knowing what your background is specifically.

Don't worry so much about being "mature" worry more about showing why you're interested in PE. So if you've been a finance guy, maybe you want to learn more about the operational side of things. Or if you've done banking, the standard answer is to actually be able to think about/analyze companies rather than just sell them.

When I was doing PE interviews I gave a combination of the above 2 points for the "Why PE?" answer and it seemed to work well.

However, if you give a generic answer like those, be prepared to also give anecdotes backing up what you say... I talked about some specific stories where I thought the company was bad and didn't want to sell it but had no choice... anything like that is good.

Feb 2, 2016

when you're interviewing with the CEO, i think he's really just trying to feel you out for culture fit. definitely make sure you understand what both you and the firm stand for, and be able to talk about your values and your "softer skills." you should really have a compelling story about your life to date, and why you want to do private equity.

make sure you come across as someone poised, humble, and curious to learn. don't be intimidated by the CEO and do not go overboard on the flattery; in fact, what you really need to show is respect for him and the firm, as well as an understanding of the firm and where it's going in the coming years and obviously how you fit into those plans.

my comments are based on my own interactions with C-level executives at private equity firms. in every case, they happened during the final or penultimate round of my PE interviews.

hope this helps, and best of luck!

Feb 2, 2016

Just treat him like a normal person. If you got in the door, he will know you are smart enough to do the job. It is nearly all about making him like you as a person. If you can turn the topics of conversation away from PE, I think you will do best. Just tell some funny stories and try to engage him.

Feb 2, 2016

Not knowing what the position is, it's hard to say on the technical side what you should prepare for. My advice is to act like a normal person. This seems obvious, but there are so many over-eager nerds that really grate on you. Don't say thing like, "I like numbers." Just have a conversation and learn about what they do, without being too nosy. Be prepared for douchey questions like: where do you see yourself in 5 years? Why this firm? Why this role? Why you over other candidates? Strengths? Weaknesses? Etc...

Good luck. Also, bring a hard copy of your resume.

Feb 2, 2016
SirTradesaLot:

Also, bring a hard copy of your resume.

Hi SirTradesaLot, I am in a similar situation as OP, will meet senior guys soon. I am not sure about the resume part, because bringning it may appear a little desperate. But I do want them to ask for it. Thought?

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Feb 2, 2016
SirTradesaLot:

Not knowing what the position is, it's hard to say on the technical side what you should prepare for. My advice is to act like a normal person. This seems obvious, but there are so many over-eager nerds that really grate on you. Don't say thing like, "I like numbers." Just have a conversation and learn about what they do, without being too nosy. Be prepared for douchey questions like: where do you see yourself in 5 years? Why this firm? Why this role? Why you over other candidates? Strengths? Weaknesses? Etc...

Good luck. Also, bring a hard copy of your resume.

It's not a specific position, that's my dilemma. If it was a specific position it would be standard interview prep but it's just an essentially informal meeting with a connection I got through a family member.

That helps though, thank you. Going to have to get a leather bound notebook for my resume.

Feb 2, 2016

Make them laugh, preferably not at you. You have 30 seconds to stand out so just be cool. If you can't do that, then simply don't fuck up.

Or you could just throw a shaving cream pie in their face and shout "99% FTW!!!"

Just make sure you get it on camera, I need a laugh

Feb 2, 2016
UFOinsider:

Make them laugh, preferably not at you. You have 30 seconds to stand out so just be cool. If you can't do that, then simply don't fuck up.

Or you could just throw a shaving cream pie in their face and shout "99% FTW!!!"

Just make sure you get it on camera, I need a laugh

I told my wife I was just going to kiss him on the forehead and tell him that he reminds me of my ol' pappi! Do you think that would make me stick out in his head when I e-mail him a week later??? On a serious note I am thinking of just playing it cool and being funny. If I have a chance I might ask "So how do you feel about the growth in out divison?" or some kind of fluff like that.

Feb 2, 2016

Do some research on him and find some common ground to shoot the shit over. Tell him thanks for taking the time to meet and, if he can spare the time your team would appreciate meeting him as well.

or

Slap him in the face with your cock and yell nice shoes bitch!

Either one.

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Feb 2, 2016

Slip him a c-note

Feb 2, 2016
Connor:

Slip him a c-note

C-note?? That would definitely get a laugh.

Feb 2, 2016

CEOs always want to talk about 9/11 conspiracies

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@JustinDDuBois

Feb 2, 2016
Commuter:

CEOs always want to talk about 9/11 conspiracies

and dick sizes. why oh why do they always try to work dick size into conversation? well, OP, if 9/11 conspiracies don't work just whip your dong out (no balls just shaft)

Feb 2, 2016

CEO-IBD?

Feb 2, 2016
Flake:

CEO-IBD?

lol.

Feb 2, 2016

when he walks past you just extend your leg out and trip him on accident, lay down right on top of him and start asking questions. you will have his undivided attention.

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Feb 2, 2016

I will do some research on him and just try to shine in those few secs and see what happens. The other suggestions would be very funny and a good way to go out with a bang (and get on you-tube) so they are still under consideration.

The way my BB is set up there are CEO's of a Line of Business. So there is a CEO of I-Banking. He is a cool guy. I e-mailed him at work one day because I was bored and felt risky and he replied back in like 30 mins from his Blackberry. I shoot him e-mails every few weeks.

In all seriousness. I am very very very low on the totem pole here and these execs treat me as a peer. I am very happy with this BB but just want to have a better role within. 30 secs with the CEO wont do anything job wise (right now) but still it puts positive attention on me. I have already had my regional manager call me about it today. I owe alot of this to y'all so thanks.

P.S.: Thanks for the crude suggestions I knew I would get them and I love them. I always like a good laugh at work.

Feb 2, 2016
paulydreamer:

P.S.: Thanks for the crude suggestions I knew I would get them and I love them. I always like a good laugh at work.

JIK you decide to committ career suicide and punk your CEO, please do something really cool. Light them on fire or something. And make sure you document it, hire a friend to film it or something....we all need a good laugh.

Feb 2, 2016
UFOinsider:
paulydreamer:

P.S.: Thanks for the crude suggestions I knew I would get them and I love them. I always like a good laugh at work.

JIK you decide to committ career suicide and punk your CEO, please do something really cool. Light them on fire or something. And make sure you document it, hire a friend to film it or something....we all need a good laugh.

i'll give OP 10 SBs if his antics put him on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

Money Never Sleeps? More like Money Never SUCKS amirite?!?!?!?

Feb 2, 2016

ask him his WSO username

"Sincerity is an overrated virtue" - Milton Friedman

Feb 2, 2016
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Feb 2, 2016