Seeking advice - Decade of experience in niche sector and laid off

Long-term user over here and have used and contributed to these forums stemming back from my college days when trying to break into the industry.

Hoping to get some advice from the more senior folks out there regarding my situation while trying to be vague as don't want anything to trace back to me. TLDR is I'm almost a decade into my career in a relatively niche industry, my group is shutting down and I feel like I'm considered used trash... dilemma is wanting to switch industry altogether but with no other sector experience

Deeper dive, I spent couple years at a IB after a non-target UG, and was recruited after IB into a private investment firm that has this niche strategy at my firm, investing from their own capital and no need to fundraise. I won't get into the titles as they're not like Street and like playing with naming conventions but it's on the Associate/Sr Associate side equivalent. Been on the buyside for 5+ years. They were pretty active in the space at the time and also during the time after I joined as well. Recently there has been new senior leadership at the firm and they decided this is not something they want to pursue anymore - this has nothing to do with performance but rather the direction of the firm and where they see more enticing opportunities in other areas. What this means is firesale of all investments and no carry for me to realize. So with my combined experience, which is almost a decade in this particular industry, I feel like I am totally pigeon-holed in this route. There is no other shop that invest in this industry where I live, and for personal family reasons, I have to stay in this city. 

This definitely feels like the end of the line for me in terms of investing in this particular industry since I'm confined to this particular location.

I have seen a lot of rounds of firings and layoffs during my time in finance but didn't see this one coming. I'm quite frustrated and I feel like a total failure and still dumbfounded. This is my first layoff effectively.  

In terms of next steps, I don't think I'm ready to switch to corp dev/strategy roles as I don't have enough savings so would still prefer to stay in 'high finance' if i could. 

In terms of other PE, I don't have an MBA and feel like because I've been so niche, it's hard to compete with other pedigree folks that have done the 2+2+MBA route and go back to the firm where they were at before to continue climbing the ladder. MBA is not an option for me at this point

I still want to be on the investing side and there's a pretty active growth/VC/tech-type investing here - I think I want to be in that space in the long run but don't have any type of that sector experience - how best do I make the transition without an MBA? How best do I frame this right and for me to come out in the end at an equivalent and no worse position? Would I have to take a significant pay cut and start at the bottom rung of the ladder as an analyst/associate at a tech vc/growth firm to prove my worth again and learn the basics from scratch? 

any advise for a defeated and demoralized fellow monkey would be appreciated that is downing his 5th whiskey on a thurs afternoon.  

Comments (7)

  • Partner in PE - LBOs
Jan 13, 2022 - 10:21pm

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemy.

Sometimes life is not really a reflection of what were putting in, but how we are reacting to the situation.  

I fail to see how you would not have transferable skills having 5+ years on the buy-side. Were you not running standard tasks (e.g. writing investment memos, presenting to ICs, running models)? Those are the transferable skills

I would not take this personally and focus on next steps.

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Jan 15, 2022 - 6:10pm

sorry to hear OP on the crappy situation. subscribed to this thread and would be interested to hear more from the experienced folks on here CompBanker, mrharveyspecter, [Bullet-Tooth Tony], APAE and see what they have to say in best course of action and road to recovery. 

Most Helpful
Jan 15, 2022 - 6:21pm

Hard to provide specific feedback given how vague the description (which is understandable). I agree with the above poster that it would be very surprising if you didnt have transferable skills. Sure, your 'business acumen' and sector knowledge would be essentially nothing if you started investing in a new sector, but that can be learned in under a years time. At your level the core skillset people are looking for is still managerial skills, organization skills, writing/communication skills, the ability to quickly understand a model, etc. These should all be fully developed.

It sounds like you are just at the start of this journey and have not yet tried. It is hard for anyone to say whether or not you will have traction in the market with your background. The best way to know is to start networking and getting your resume into the market. The story sounds plausible enough. I personally switched geographies and sectors after more than a decade in PE and it was quite seamless. Even I was surprised at how much of investing is the same fundamentals, regardless of sector, and therefore how quickly I was able to get up to speed and be impactful. So get out there and start taking action in finding the new role - that is the only way to know for sure whether your story is a good one. You may need to take a pay cut / step back a level, but in the context of a 30+ year career, sacrificing a few years isnt much.


  • 8
  • VP in IB-M&A
Jan 15, 2022 - 7:01pm

Sorry to hear about your troubles. Surely during these years you have built up a network of both people on the buyside, sellside, and vendors who know your quality of work?

Jan 15, 2022 - 7:34pm

Other folks on this board can give you better career advice since I'm not on the PE side. But I wanted to voice my support for you - keep your chin up!

I keyed in on the fact that this is your first layoff and I think we all remember that one and it certainly stings the most. It's tough, but we've all been there and we've all managed to get through it and so will you. I know it doesn't seem that way now, but keep your head up and stay positive - there's always better things ahead. 

  • Investment Manager in PE - Growth
Jan 20, 2022 - 12:13pm

thank you all for your comments and support. i think if i want to continue this path, i just have to come up with the courage and admit to myself that i do have to take a paycut / step back a level... the news has surely have been tough on me but i've heard others that have been in high finance for their whole career say you're not truly a finance professional in the industry if you haven't been laid out / fired at least once in your lifetime - no idea whether that's true or not but i'll see what i can make of it. 

CompBanker, when you switched geographies and sectors more than a decade in, was it voluntary and purely based on your interest? do you mind me asking which sector you moved from and to? what did you find helped you most in getting up to speed (apart from learning on the job of course which is where i'm trying to get to). i'm at the crossroads where i want to get a job in an industry i think i like (growth/VC/tech-type) to which i don't have much knowledge on currently, but want to learn the ropes asap and hit the ground running. have been doing some reading however, i'm sure these firms would prefer individuals that already have that type of background and experience. 

Jan 21, 2022 - 6:56am

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