Private Equity to Corporate Strategy / Tech - advice?

Monkeys - 

I'm a first year Associate at a MM PE firm in NY, and previously did two years at a top BB. After spending the last ~8 months getting completely grinded (not to mention 2 years in IB) in an all virtual environment, I find myself constantly thinking about the life experiences I am missing, and want to transition to a job that has more reasonable work life balance. I am specifically interested in pursuing strategy / strat. finance type roles at a high-growth tech company in SF or NY (or remote!). This would include both FAANG+, as well as established "hot" startups (Series B/C/D, etc.).

A quick search here shows tons of forums on switching from corporate roles to PE/IB, but surprisingly few about those that go the other way around. I'm sure many of you have made that transition, and I would be curious to here your thoughts on topics such as the following:

  • Why did you decide to leave PE, and what type of role you pursued 
  • Pros / cons: Do you feel like this job accrued to your life happiness and career satisfaction? Do you feel that there are meaningful growth opportunities (in both comp and responsibility)? Do you regret leaving the finance safety net?
  • When you decided to make the transition (after 2 year associate program, after B School, etc.)
  • Thoughts on someone leaving after one year in PE to pursue such an opportunity?


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Comments (7)

Mar 22, 2021 - 7:33am

Is it just the hours or other factors as well (such as culture?).

I made the transition from MM PE role to an LP role. I really like the investing aspect, culture and better work-life balance.

  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Mar 22, 2021 - 11:05am

It's mostly the hours. Far worse than what I experienced in banking, and most importantly there are no breaks - they bury you in portfolio / research work when you aren't on a live deal, so you never really get to recover. It's hard to fully assess culture given its all been remote, but everyone seems to get along. That said, all the Partners / Principals are total grinders, and the bad work life balance flows down from them.

Mar 24, 2021 - 2:32pm

I have been there on portfolio work between deals and grinders at the top. You could also consider VC if you have interest in earlier stage investing. Seed/series A might be too early given the skill set you have developed but Series B+/growth rounds would leverage your skillset more.

  • Other in CorpStrat
Mar 22, 2021 - 1:14pm
  • Why did you decide to leave PE, and what type of role you pursued Like yourself, was getting burnt out and also did not envision things getting better at the VP level. Friend once told me that a good way to gauge long term fit is to look at the next level up and see if you want to occupy your manager's life. That answer was definitively no for me. I made the switch over to Corp Strat at a large cap software Company once my two year upper MMPE program was finished.
  • Pros / cons: Do you feel like this job accrued to your life happiness and career satisfaction? Do you feel that there are meaningful growth opportunities (in both comp and responsibility)? Do you regret leaving the finance safety net? I'm only a few months in so I can provide a better perspective down the road, but overall I am really happy with the move. I have always prioritized quality time with friends/family over career, but still make good compensation to have fun vacations while save fruitfully for retirement, and I think the role has really afforded that package so far. Contrary to the popular stereotype about corporate, I think there is actually a lot of growth at the right types of organization (particularly in more agile / higher growth sectors). In my group specifically, strong performers get promoted fairly quickly/regularly or move to senior strategy/operating roles on other teams/subsidiaries. w/r/t safety net, I actually felt like there wasn't much of one in my (or most of my friends) MMPE shops - a lot of people typically got bounced out for a variety of political reasons or often topped out at the VP level with not much room for further development. Not to say this isn't a commonplace thing in corporate, but the whole "professional ceiling" trope gets overplayed a bit and is very prevalent in PE as well.
  • When you decided to make the transition After my associate program
  • Thoughts on someone leaving after one year in PE to pursue such an opportunity? Like the above poster mentioned, would advise doing the two years if anything for optical reasons. Recruiters / hiring managers generally like seeing candidates that demonstrate consistent staying power, and I found most of the goodwill I developed with my PE firm occurred through year 2, which helped a lot with references.
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  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Mar 22, 2021 - 2:11pm

Super helpful. Can I ask what industry you were focusing on in PE? If you weren't coming from a TMT / software investor, did you find that was a barrier to getting a job in that industry? I do some work in software, but am largely a generalist.

Also completely agree with your assessment re: looking at the next level. The VPs and above arguably work more than the Associates and bare significantly more stress / responsibility (Managing the expectations of the Partners, managing port co day-to-day, overseeing their Associates). Not a life I want to live at all, even though we do promote from within. 

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