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The Other Road: Corporate Development Associate Fielding Questions

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harvardgrad08 - Certified Professional
Rank: Gorilla | banana points 693

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Given the multiple requests I got in another thread I've decided to follow in 10xleverage's footsteps.

To give you some background, I graduated from Harvard undergrad in 2008. After graduation I moved to the bay area to join the 2 year finance leadership analyst program at a F500 tech company. The program place analysts in 6 month assignments in various finance and strategy groups across the company. You can be assigned to typical FP&A (financial planning & analysis) groups, corporate development (M&A), corporate or divisional strategy groups, corporate treasury (work on the trading floor helping to manage a particular asset portfolio), internal audit, market & competitive intelligence teams, etc. After finishing the program I joined the corporate development team in what is considered a 1st year associate role.

Feel free to ask all you ever wanted about corporate finance, corporate strategy, corporate developement, or anything else.

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Comments (288)

Mar 5, 2012

Hey harvardgrad,

Thanks for all of the great insight!

I graduated in 2011 and am currently working at a Big 4 in an audit/advisory role in the financial services industry. I have had a rather unique experience in audit that has allowed me to see other areas of the firm and distinguish myself from being a typical "auditor." I have been there for about a year, and am trying to decide my next step (if my end goal is corporate dev/strategy). I have already done a lot of solid networking within my firm, and I am confident that I can transition to another practice relatively soon. Would you recommend that I:

a) transfer to the consulting practice
b) transfer to the transaction advisory practice
c) take a financial analyst role in a F500 and try to network my way into corp dev/strat from there

Both corporate development and strategy sound very interesting to me, and I would be willing to take whichever opportunity first presented itself.

Thanks so much for your advice

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Mar 17, 2012

Hi harvardgrad,

This is an incredible thread; it's always great to hear about other career paths, especially ones that aren't typically very visible to undergrads.

My question is another one of those, "But what if I didn't do [Consulting/Banking]?"

Basically, I did a SA stint at a BB, and wasn't a big fan. Consulting always seemed a bit wishy-washy to me, so I ended up pursuing my first passion: investment management. I lucked into a position, and I'll be starting at an investment management firm after I graduate. I don't necessarily have any plans to leave, as this really is my dream job, but if I ever did, I would want to "exit" to industry.

My question is: How feasible is this?

(1) Would someone in your position consider a guy like me, coming from a Hedge Fund? I have to think that the lack of deal experience would be a killer, but hey, could it be worth a shot?

(2) What if I went to a "Top" MBA program? Is it really possible to use an MBA to "rebrand" yourself into Corporate Development or Corporate Strategy? If so, what would you recommend doing before/during an MBA to put yourself in a position to compete for Corp. Dev/Strat jobs?

(3) If (2) isn't feasible, could I potentially make the switch after a post-MBA foray into Banking (for Development) or Consulting (for Strategy), or are post-MBA people "too senior" or "too specialized" to crossover?

Thank you so much for all the time and energy you've spent to this thread. It's greatly appreciated.

Mar 26, 2012
  1. I'm currently working in IBD but have developed an interest in technology. What do you recommend reading to learn about recent deals in the tech space as well as the field in general?

Basically read the major tech blogs...techcrunch, venturebeat, gigaom, silicon alley insider, etc. Also if you are interested in specific sub-sectors read those blogs (e.g. for online advertising read adexchanger, for gaming read gamasutra, etc.)

  1. Do you know if corp dev teams would take bankers after only 1 year of experience?

Depends on the company...some do and some don't.

  1. Does networking play an important part in transitioning over and is it a similar process to IBD (informational interviews, etc.)? Also are most of the tech teams based in NY or CA?

Yes networking is important as recruiting for corpdev is less formalized than PE recruiting. Basically network with headhunters focused on corpdev (glocap has a few), network with corpdev folks from current / prior deals you've worked on, etc. Most corpdev jobs in tech are located in CA as very few major tech cos are located in NY. You're more likely to find corpdev tech jobs in the Bay Area, Seattle, and LA.

    • 1
Mar 26, 2012
  1. I graduated in 2011 and am currently working at a Big 4 in an audit/advisory role in the financial services industry. I have had a rather unique experience in audit that has allowed me to see other areas of the firm and distinguish myself from being a typical "auditor." I have been there for about a year, and am trying to decide my next step (if my end goal is corporate dev/strategy). I have already done a lot of solid networking within my firm, and I am confident that I can transition to another practice relatively soon. Would you recommend that I:

a) transfer to the consulting practice
b) transfer to the transaction advisory practice
c) take a financial analyst role in a F500 and try to network my way into corp dev/strat from there

Honestly any of the options would probably allow you to reach your end goal...if will be just be a matter of networking with your clients in options A and B and networking internally in option C.

  1. Basically, I did a SA stint at a BB, and wasn't a big fan. Consulting always seemed a bit wishy-washy to me, so I ended up pursuing my first passion: investment management. I lucked into a position, and I'll be starting at an investment management firm after I graduate. I don't necessarily have any plans to leave, as this really is my dream job, but if I ever did, I would want to "exit" to industry.

My question is: How feasible is this?

(1) Would someone in your position consider a guy like me, coming from a Hedge Fund? I have to think that the lack of deal experience would be a killer, but hey, could it be worth a shot?

(2) What if I went to a "Top" MBA program? Is it really possible to use an MBA to "rebrand" yourself into Corporate Development or Corporate Strategy? If so, what would you recommend doing before/during an MBA to put yourself in a position to compete for Corp. Dev/Strat jobs?

(3) If (2) isn't feasible, could I potentially make the switch after a post-MBA foray into Banking (for Development) or Consulting (for Strategy), or are post-MBA people "too senior" or "too specialized" to crossover?

Basically for (1) you could try to transition to the corporate treasury function of a F500 and after a few years try to network your way into corpdev/strat. However, it may be easier to go back and get an MBA (e.g. option 2). During your MBA take corp val, corp strategy, etc. classes. Also join the industry club (e.g. Media & Entertainment club or tech club) of the industry in which you are most interested. It shouldn't be that hard to re-brand yourself. If you don't land a corpdev/strat job after MBA then follow option 3 and go to banking for a couple of years then make the jump...you won't be too senior with 1-2 associate years under your belt.

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Mar 27, 2012

For those interested...I just came across the following posting. Disney's legendary corp strat team (CSBDT) is looking for a summer intern for this upcoming summer. In the past 5-6 years since I've known about this team this is one of the first times I see them hiring an undergrad intern. The group is considered one of the top corpstrat/dev teams in the country - on par Google, Microsoft, etc. I would highly suggest anyone interested in corpstrat / dev to apply. These guys have good exit opps too...most of the people they hire full time take great gigs including PE jobs (knew a couple of guys who jumped from Disney CSBDT to Hellman & Friedman, Providence Equity, and Elevation Partners).

Hope this helps one of you monkeys!

http://www.linkedin.com/jobs?viewJob=&jobId=274576...1_1_Y_1_1_1_1_R_true_1_1292+1293+1075902+3595+1297+1299+1295+165481+1301+1303+3907+1305+1304+3908+7956+513007+15817+693217+1080391+3910+166865+1500141+7827_2_us%3A0_2_2_2_*2

Mar 27, 2012

What makes Disney's Corp Strat so great?

Mar 27, 2012
manbearpig:

What makes Disney's Corp Strat so great?

I'll give this a shot and let Harvardgrad correct me.

They're insanely elite. Very small, very pedigreed and extremely good at what they do. Recruit from top groups/schools and generally run very impressive deals/projects with a very small staff which means a lot of exposure to the process for newer guys and a chance to learn from the cream of crop.

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Mar 27, 2012

I had one quick follow up. I know the corp dev teams are considered in house M&A teams. My experience in banking is basically all leveraged finance. Are the corp dev teams strictly looking for M&A experience or Lev Fin is ok? I only run LBO models so do you think brushing up on some valuation and M&A modeling would help me out.

Thanks again for your help.

Mar 27, 2012

.

Mar 29, 2012

I've been seeing this asked a few times in random threads so here...Any resume formats to follow? Here most everyone uses single page M&I format.

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Apr 2, 2012

Awesome thread. Question how much does the compensation you were talking about vary from business development to corporate strategy? I'm talking 2 years out of consulting get hired by a top tier tech company, what would you think the compensation be for that?

Thanks!

Apr 5, 2012

Hey Hardvard08 I have a quick question.
So a lot of the corporate strategy firms require that their applicants work at some firm (typically investment banking) for 2 years before applying for the position. What bank's analysts are most commonly recruited by tech firms for their corporate strategy division?

Apr 12, 2012
  1. What makes Disney's Corp Strat so great?

The group is small and extremely elite. For UG they hire pretty much exclusively from HPSW. They handle all of the major strategic questions for Disney's CEO and work on super critical board level questions. You have lots of exposure to the senior management at the firm and their alum network is all over Hollywood's executive teams meaning the exit opps in the industry are really good. The breadth of experiences that you get in the group also give you a really strong skillset that has allowed alums of the group to move to top PE - something that few corpdev /strat teams can say.

  1. I had one quick follow up. I know the corp dev teams are considered in house M&A teams. My experience in banking is basically all leveraged finance. Are the corp dev teams strictly looking for M&A experience or Lev Fin is ok? I only run LBO models so do you think brushing up on some valuation and M&A modeling would help me out.

Although M&A experience more important than LevFin if you come from a solid bank and can talk intelligently about the industry, valuation, M&A, etc. The types of deals you worked on (debt / levfin /etc) wont matter.

  1. I've been seeing this asked a few times in random threads so here...Any resume formats to follow? Here most everyone uses single page M&I format

The M&I format is fine. The key things to highlight when applying to corpdev/strat jobs are: 1) deal experience (e.g. describe the deals you were on, what you did, etc.) and 2) relevant industry experience (e.g. deals you worked on relevant to the industry, etc.)

  1. Question how much does the compensation you were talking about vary from business development to corporate strategy? I'm talking 2 years out of consulting get hired by a top tier tech company, what would you think the compensation be for that?

Comp across BD, CD, or CS functions doesn't really vary. It is generally pretty similar...with 2 years experience at least in tech you can reasonably expect base to be somewhere in the 85-100K, bonus will likely be somewhere between 0-20%, and stock will vary drastically by company. You can also expect relocation comp (5-10K) and depending on the firm a signing bonus of anywhere from 10-30K (sometimes cash, sometimes stock, sometimes a mix of the 2).

  1. So a lot of the corporate strategy firms require that their applicants work at some firm (typically investment banking) for 2 years before applying for the position. What bank's analysts are most commonly recruited by tech firms for their corporate strategy division?

So quick distinction, corpdev groups usually hire bankers while corpstrat groups hire either bankers or consultants. The target consulting firms are usually pretty much the same across tech - namely MBB. On the banking side, the major banks that are pretty consistent and tend to be MS, GS, and CS. That said, if a bank is really strong in a particular sectors they will place well at top firms in that sector. For example, Thomas Weisel (or whatever they are called now) have been historically strong in semis so many semis companies will hire from there. Wachovia, now Wells, has had strength in enterprise software and place well there, etc.

Apr 15, 2012

If you work in a non-M&A or TMT group in a BB is it still possible to get a corp dev job at a F500 tech company?

Apr 15, 2012
  1. If you work in a non-M&A or TMT group in a BB is it still possible to get a corp dev job at a F500 tech company?

I think I've answered this above...the short answer is yes as long as you can show passion for the tech industry and can show that you know how to do M&A / valuation / etc.

    • 2
Apr 15, 2012

150 questions answered, that's pretty awesome man. Thanks for all the info and insights! +1

Apr 15, 2012

thanks...never thought this thread would have the legs it did...1.5 years so far...pretty crazy.

Keep the questions coming!

    • 2
May 10, 2012

Wanted to thank you for answering questions in this thread. I am thinking about accepting a corporate strategy offer, and this has been invaluable.

May 13, 2012
Pissingintowind:

Wanted to thank you for answering questions in this thread. I am thinking about accepting a corporate strategy offer, and this has been invaluable.

Ditto, invaluable resource, we should get together a community of these tech strategy jobs. Never hurts to network.

May 12, 2012

congrats pissingintowind! Glad I could help...

Jun 19, 2012

Hey Harvardgrad08, thanks for answering these questions. I graduated from a top-tiered school and worked in AM for 4 years and am heading to a top 10-12 b-school. Would I be considered in a corp development role in an M&A group or similar if I interned in banking over the summer to learn modeling, etc and then tried to get into a company like yours FT?

Jul 13, 2012
kwapture:

Hey Harvardgrad08, thanks for answering these questions. I graduated from a top-tiered school and worked in AM for 4 years and am heading to a top 10-12 b-school. Would I be considered in a corp development role in an M&A group or similar if I interned in banking over the summer to learn modeling, etc and then tried to get into a company like yours FT?

also interested in questions along these lines. Thank you sincerely harvardgrad08

Jul 10, 2012

Great thread, very informative Harvardgrad08

Jul 10, 2012

Great thread, very informative Harvardgrad08

Jul 10, 2012

Read through a good chunk of this thread. Tons of great info. Thank you harvardgrad!

Just had a question, I'm an undergrad accounting major at a non target school in Florida. While I enjoy the security of accounting, and am sure I can make a comfortable living with it, I'm worried about pigeonholing myself into strictly (probably more boring) accounting jobs even with a jump to industry after big 4.

So my question is, being that I'm an accounting major at a non target Florida school (UCF), do I have any sort of reasonable chance getting into a good FLDP/finance rotational program? And if that doesn't work, would I at least have similar exit opps coming out of big 4 audit? As in some sort of corp dev role, and moving up in it?

Thanks for any help

Jul 16, 2012

one thing I don't know if its been asked, does it matter which strategy group your working in for internal and external ops / promotions / b-school? Like if your the strategy team for the CEO or product specific or something else?

Jul 24, 2012

Thanks again for doing this, great insight in this thread.

Aug 8, 2012

Thanks so much for this thread! I think I'm in a pretty similar position to where you were at the beginning of your journey: I'm a rising senior just coming out of a BB IB internship. I got the offer, but I really disliked the experience (forced downtime at the office for 4 hours starting at 9 PM just killed me) and I don't think I'll be going back.

Looking forward I have interviews at top F500 tech and financial (not banking) firms for Finance Leadership Programs. I ultimately see myself in a CD/BD/CS role, with a current preference for Strategy. Given that, should I consider one of these top rotational programs to be a clear path into a Strategy or BD department for a driven individual who's very comfortable with networking?

Also, I have interviews at MBB, and if they pan out I have another quandry: while it would involve a better lifestyle than IB, I'm still not sure I would be happy with the hours. Would it really be stupid to go for a top Rotational program instead for someone who ultimately wants to end up in a F500 strategy group?

As for salary, the only real concern is that my Significant Other is an engineer looking at a $90k starting salary, and I'd like us to be making similar money in 3-5 years!

So, lots of questions, but any specific recommendations?

Aug 31, 2012

Hey Harvard! Thanks for your help and it took me 3 hours to read all your comments! So therefore, my question below would not be a repeat of other questions:

1) I am based in Hong Kong now and have an interview with the corporate development department for the junior analyst role doing M&A's with Swire. How likely would it be if I work in Swire for a few years (if I get the position) and transfer back to the US possibly at the same company or another company doing CD? I know there are different regulations regarding M&A compared to HK and US so not sure if the skills I obtain from HK corporate development would be transferrable to US.....

2) Do you know if online webcam interviews are common for corporate development roles? If say for example I am located in HK and want to apply for CD roles in US, do you know of any instances where interviews can be conducted on webcams instead of me flying over for the interviews since companies don't want to spend so much money in the recruitment process flying people over from abroad?

Thanks for your help!

Oct 20, 2012

Hey harvardgrad - thanks for this thread, it's an awesome resource!

I'm an ex-lawyer (top 3 NYC firm) who is now pursuing an MBA at a top school with a view toward breaking into CD - most likely in media given my deal history. Obviously I will be at a disadvantage against those with IBD experience at the BBs, but do you think I have a chance at landing a CD gig or are companies more likely to try and direct me to their inhouse legal team? Also, any tips you have on "selling" my skillset in interviews would be much appreciated.

Thanks

Oct 21, 2012

Thanks for sharing all this with us. It's very helpful. I do, however, have a question:

Are these roles of Corporate Strategy/Dev in tech companies only limited to those with financial background? Or are there also team members within Corporate Strategy/Dev who comes from the technical side as well?

Oct 21, 2012

sorry it's been a while since I last responded to this thread....

  1. I graduated from a top-tiered school and worked in AM for 4 years and am heading to a top 10-12 b-school. Would I be considered in a corp development role in an M&A group or similar if I interned in banking over the summer to learn modeling, etc and then tried to get into a company like yours FT?

Yes...as long as you are able to show a passion for the industry that you are looking to get into CD in.

  1. being that I'm an accounting major at a non target Florida school (UCF), do I have any sort of reasonable chance getting into a good FLDP/finance rotational program? And if that doesn't work, would I at least have similar exit opps coming out of big 4 audit? As in some sort of corp dev role, and moving up in it?

With lots of networking you may be able to land in a decent FLDP. That said it will be an uphill battle. If you end up going to a big 4 I would try to move into one of the transaction advisory service or consulting arms and which would open up more oppts. to join a CD team later on.

  1. does it matter which strategy group your working in for internal and external ops / promotions / b-school? Like if your the strategy team for the CEO or product specific or something else?

Very company dependent. At my company despite having strat/m&a teams at the corp level (e.g. CEO) and at the divisional level the most "prestigious" ones that help land better jobs internally and externally at the corporate one and one of the 5-6 divisional teams. The rest are not that highly regarded.

  1. Given that, should I consider one of these top rotational programs to be a clear path into a Strategy or BD department for a driven individual who's very comfortable with networking?

I think for someone that is very driven and a strong networker you would have a very good chance of landing in strat/bd/cd post program. Never guaranteed but very doable.

  1. Also, I have interviews at MBB, and if they pan out I have another quandry: while it would involve a better lifestyle than IB, I'm still not sure I would be happy with the hours. Would it really be stupid to go for a top Rotational program instead for someone who ultimately wants to end up in a F500 strategy group?

I wouldn't say it's stupid if the rotation program you are going into is for an industry that you are passionate about and would ultimate like working in. That said MBB does give you a few more years to figure that out.

  1. As for salary, the only real concern is that my Significant Other is an engineer looking at a $90k starting salary, and I'd like us to be making similar money in 3-5 years!

In tech engineering comp is pretty high to start but generally the trajectory / growth is slower than for a top strat/cd role. I think it's very reasonable to assume if you are going into tech than you would easily be making comparable comp 3-5 yrs out. As an example, I came in to my firm and all in 1st year (incl. stock & bonus) made ~$100K while my engineering buddies were making $120-130K all in that same year. Fast forward 4 years, I have been promoted multiple times while my engineering buddies have maybe been promoted once. To the point that now my comp is higher that theirs.

  1. I am based in Hong Kong now and have an interview with the corporate development department for the junior analyst role doing M&A's with Swire. How likely would it be if I work in Swire for a few years (if I get the position) and transfer back to the US possibly at the same company or another company doing CD? I know there are different regulations regarding M&A compared to HK and US so not sure if the skills I obtain from HK corporate development would be transferrable to US.....

Despite the nuances of deal regulations from one country to another the skillset is still transferable and you could probably land in CD in the states anyways. I would always play up the aspect of that you know how to do cross-border M&A and deals in Asia which are things that many firms look for and are focused on.

  1. Do you know if online webcam interviews are common for corporate development roles? If say for example I am located in HK and want to apply for CD roles in US, do you know of any instances where interviews can be conducted on webcams instead of me flying over for the interviews since companies don't want to spend so much money in the recruitment process flying people over from abroad?

Depends on the company. We do Skype interviews for first round interviews with candidates that are located abroad.

  1. I'm an ex-lawyer (top 3 NYC firm) who is now pursuing an MBA at a top school with a view toward breaking into CD - most likely in media given my deal history. Obviously I will be at a disadvantage against those with IBD experience at the BBs, but do you think I have a chance at landing a CD gig or are companies more likely to try and direct me to their inhouse legal team? Also, any tips you have on "selling" my skillset in interviews would be much appreciated.

I wouldn't necessarily say you are at a disadvantage. The legal experience is actually highly regarded for CD jobs as a lot of the deal execution work when you are owning a deal end to end is very technical from a legal standpoint. We have 2-3 guys that are ex lawyers on our team so I don't think you would be pushed to go inhouse counsel if that's not the path you want to go down especially coming from a top MBA. I would play up any M&A related legal experience you have and talk about how your MBA + JD would help you be a strong candidate.

  1. Are these roles of Corporate Strategy/Dev in tech companies only limited to those with financial background? Or are there also team members within Corporate Strategy/Dev who comes from the technical side as well?

For the most part strat/CD roles want people that have some sort of "business" experience whether its law, banking, consulting, etc. It's pretty rare for someone that only has technical experience to land in this kind of a role. That said those with engineering/technical experience that we do have on the team had that experience then went to get an MBA then went to banking/consulting/etc before landing in start/cd.

Oct 21, 2012

Welcome back!

Got a couple more questions for you..

Have you talked to any of the post-MBA CD hires at your company? I'm wondering how competitive they found CD/CS recruiting from a top tier MBA.

How is your progress at the company coming? Have you been promoted since you started this thread? Any future plans (MBA, VC, stay put, startup, take over the world, etc)?

Oct 22, 2012
  1. Have you talked to any of the post-MBA CD hires at your company? I'm wondering how competitive they found CD/CS recruiting from a top tier MBA.

From my experience, talking to recent hire and also as an MBA hiring manager, I would say it's pretty competitive to get CD/CS jobs at the top tier companies. For example, at the moment I am currently going through the process of hiring MBAs and we are going on campus to two of the top 5 schools but have resume drops at another 8. Meaning that in total we are recruiting from 10 different schools. Across all schools we received ~900 resumes, we interviewed ~40 candidates for first round and are flying back ~10 for final rounds in the hopes of hiring 2 people. For lesser known companies it may be easier but it's still a competitive process given the high interest at the MBA level in the type of work + lifestyle combo.

  1. How is your progress at the company coming? Have you been promoted since you started this thread? Any future plans (MBA, VC, stay put, startup, take over the world, etc)?

Things are going well. I've been promoted a couple of times now since starting the thread nearly 2 years ago. In terms of what's next, I think I will continue to stay on the team for the next year or two and ride out the fast trajectory then I'd like to try and transition to more of a core finance role where I'd be CFO of a small product group giving more end-to-end P&L management in the hopes of transitioning to a CFO role at a smaller company in the next couple of years. Definitely not going to go get an MBA at this point...I'm already to the point where I'm more senior than MBA hires and am hiring MBAs to work under me so I don't see a need to take two years out of my current career trajectory to put spend lots of $$ on a degree that in all reality is looked down upon in the valley.

    • 1
Oct 24, 2012

Ultimate props for keeping this thread going bro.

Jan 21, 2013

-

Dec 24, 2012

.

Jan 12, 2013

op is definitely an outlier for a finance graduate, both in compensation and experience. i'm amazed that you're hiring MBAs less than five years in.

Jan 13, 2013
chimpout:

op is definitely an outlier for a finance graduate, both in compensation and experience. i'm amazed that you're hiring MBAs less than five years in.

I would agree on being an outlier in terms of experience. I have been lucky enough to have worked under very respected up-and-coming leaders that have risen through the ranks and by doing good work for them, being politically savvy, etc. they have taken care of me. Presently, at 27, I am in a role where all of my peers are 5-8 years older than me and most of the people my age are significantly more junior than me. I am an outlier in the corporate finance world in that you don't normally have a 27 year leading a functional team with 5+ direct reports with many that are older than me and have MBAs.

That said, from a compensation standpoint, I don't think I am an outlier. My industry may be an outlier but within my industry I am not. Remember I work in tech in the bay area...for one the tech world comp is significantly better than pretty much every other industry (excl. finance) and secondly the bay is expensive. I am pretty well connected now in the valley and have friends, colleagues, etc. that are in similar functions at Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Ebay, Microsoft, Adobe, Twitter, Dropbox, etc. and compensation is pretty much across the board similar to what I've detailed earlier in this thread. Also I've been approached for jobs at least 5+ times over the past year and the comp described is in line.

Jan 21, 2013

Great thread and thanks for the time and effort put into this.

I read this thread from beginning to end and didn't see responses specifically addressing the following:
How would it be perceived by corp dev/strat teams if a first year analyst was interviewing for a position? Is it rare for them to hire someone with only one year of banking experience? What position/role would the analyst be hired into?

Jan 22, 2013

163. How would it be perceived by corp dev/strat teams if a first year analyst was interviewing for a position? Is it rare for them to hire someone with only one year of banking experience? What position/role would the analyst be hired into?

Generally I would say it's not perceived negatively but it can depend on the firm...for the most part though you will see a good amount of firms that will be willing to interview / hire someone with only 1 year of experience. That said, you are likely to be a lateral hire and come in as an analyst and in the best case scenario if you are able to surpass expectations you will hit associate at the end of your 2nd year (however, more realistically it will take you 1.5-2 years)...while your friends with 2 years will come in directly as associates / managers (title is firm dependent). I have come to notice that coming externally into most firms in corporate america will get you a higher title / pay level in a faster time than those getting promoted directly from within [e.g. you come in with 1 year of experience as an analyst getting paid 75K base + 10-20% bonus + 10-15K in stock vested over 5 years; after 1 year, if all goes extremely well, you are promoted to associate with a 8% pay increase so your new pay is 81K + 10-20% bonus + 15-20K in stock vested over 5 years...at the same time your friend with 2 years banking gets hired by your firm as an associate making 90K base + 10-20% bonus + 20-25K in stock].

    • 1
Jan 22, 2013
harvardgrad08:

[e.g. you come in with 1 year of experience as an analyst getting paid 75K base + 10-20% bonus + 10-15K in stock vested over 5 years; after 1 year, if all goes extremely well, you are promoted to associate with a 8% pay increase so your new pay is 81K + 10-20% bonus + 15-20K in stock vested over 5 years...at the same time your friend with 2 years banking gets hired by your firm as an associate making 90K base + 10-20% bonus + 20-25K in stock].

this is 10000% true

Jan 22, 2013

can't believe this thread has been going for 2+ years...damn.

    • 1
Jan 22, 2013
harvardgrad08:

can't believe this thread has been going for 2+ years...damn.

Thanks for continuing to answer - this thread has been a really interesting read. I'm in a corporate strategy job now and am curious to know if there are any good books or learning materials that you'd recommend for someone who doesn't have a consulting/banking background and doesn't really have a formalized training program at their company.

I'm pretty much just asked to do work, given some guidance by my manager about how to approach the problem, and then set to figure it out on my own. It's a great learning experience, I'm given lots of responsibility, and I'm working on some really interesting projects, but sometimes I wonder if there are more efficient ways to be doing what I'm doing. I don't really want to bother my manager all the time about what I would consider learning the basics, but I would also love a primer on how to approach strategy projects and other consulting-esque tasks I'm asked to do. I also don't have any formal Excel training and am just picking things up as I go along.

Most people on my team are ex-consultants, which is why I think there isn't really a formal training program.

Jan 23, 2013
harvardgrad08:

can't believe this thread has been going for 2+ years...damn.

Awesome doesn't even begin to describe this thread. Thanks a ton for all the advice you've doled out over the years. Threw a couple more SBs your way

EDIT: I'm assuming you were promoted to VP, hella congrats man, that's awesome

Jan 23, 2013
D M:
harvardgrad08:

can't believe this thread has been going for 2+ years...damn.

Awesome doesn't even begin to describe this thread. Thanks a ton for all the advice you've doled out over the years. Threw a couple more SBs your way

EDIT: I'm assuming you were promoted to VP, hella congrats man, that's awesome

Haha my guess is either sr manager or director. VP before 30 is prettyyyyy unheard of :)

Jan 23, 2013
West Coast Analyst:

Haha my guess is either sr manager or director. VP before 30 is prettyyyyy unheard of :)

I'm with ya brotha, he just chose VP to rep his new position so I stuck with that haha

Jan 22, 2013

How often to do you hire post-PE associate-level candidates and at what level do they generally come on board (same level as someone who came in post IB or higher)? How have they handled the transition and how well/not well did PE prepare them? How is the focus on MBAs with regard to promotion compared to PE/IB? Also, how is the work life balance from a vacation perspective - how much time do you actually take off. Do people use their days or do you get funny looks if you take over two weeks?

Dec 12, 2017

haha yeah so given the titles available on WSO i cant choose director so i guess VP is the closest because all of the other directors at my company were former VPs in IBD...if I make group head which would mean replacing my boss who is a VP (in the corporate / F500 sense) then I'll change it to MD on WSO :)

That said, the youngest guy ever in our company's history to make it to VP (again corporate sense not IBD) was 28...now the guy is like 33 and was invited / attended Sun Valley...that guy is legit.

EDIT: Full disclosure...went back to look at my profile and it turns out that "director" is an available title I just didnt look down far enough haha...updated profile to reflect true title :P

    • 1
Jan 24, 2013
harvardgrad08:

EDIT: Full disclosure...went back to look at my profile and it turns out that "director" is an available title I just didnt look down far enough haha...updated profile to reflect true title :P

Don't judge me, but I'm proud of you e-bro :-p

Jan 24, 2013
harvardgrad08:

haha yeah so given the titles available on WSO i cant choose director so i guess VP is the closest because all of the other directors at my company were former VPs in IBD...if I make group head which would mean replacing my boss who is a VP (in the corporate / F500 sense) then I'll change it to MD on WSO :)

That said, the youngest guy ever in our company's history to make it to VP (again corporate sense not IBD) was 28...now the guy is like 33 and was invited / attended Sun Valley...that guy is legit.

EDIT: Full disclosure...went back to look at my profile and it turns out that "director" is an available title I just didnt look down far enough haha...updated profile to reflect true title :P

Sheesh. Congrats dude!!! That is amazing and inspirational.

Oct 19, 2013
harvardgrad08:

That said, the youngest guy ever in our company's history to make it to VP (again corporate sense not IBD) was 28...now the guy is like 33 and was invited / attended Sun Valley...that guy is legit.

I just saw this thread. Thanks for keeping it up and updating it for all these years.

I am curious how did that guy make VP at 28? I assumed that Corporate Strategy/Development at a large company would be a highly structured and somewhat hierarchal environment. How was he able to distinguish himself in such a manner/impress senior management sufficiently to make such meteoric rise to division head? Did the previous VP quit/was fired abruptly and there was a temporary shortage of talents at that level?

Jan 29, 2013

Harvardgrad08: Thank you for keeping this thread up for such a long time! Got quite a bit of insights from your sharing.

I've just accepted an analyst role with a corporate strategy & business development team in the logistics industry. I considered it a very rare opportunity as I am only a fresh accounting graduate. I intend to move on from Corp Strat & Biz Dev in 2-3 years and want to start positioning myself from the get-go. What are the common exit options from Corp Strat / Biz Dev? The company isn't big and the team doubles as in-house consultants for strategy planning, and in-house M&A team. We've been on an acquisition spree so I expect to gain some deal experience. If I understand right, going into consulting / business school is the usual route out of CS&BD? What else are there? and what should I emphasize in my job experience to get into consulting MBB?

As it's a very small team, there is a great deal of deal responsibility from end to end. Can you suggest good resources to refer to that gives an overview on the different stages in driving a deal from sourcing to evaluation to closure and integration?, and the technicalities and challenges in each stage? I understand valuations and modelling are going to play a part and I'd also have to brush that up on my own.

Also looking for good resources to brush up on strategic analysis, especially for the logistics industry. All suggestions appreciated!

Feb 4, 2013

164. Thanks for continuing to answer - this thread has been a really interesting read. I'm in a corporate strategy job now and am curious to know if there are any good books or learning materials that you'd recommend for someone who doesn't have a consulting/banking background and doesn't really have a formalized training program at their company.

See if any of our former consulting colleagues have any of the old training docs from MBB and see if any of them would spend the team giving you some mentorship, etc. In terms of books and other learning material I wouldn't say any incredibly useful but I'd read some of Michael Porter's books (Competitive Strategy, Competitive Advantage), Valuation (Mckinsey book), see if colleagues that went to b-school have any of these or some of their older text books. The only one i've found especially useful is a text book from a wharton course called "Venture Capital and the Finance of Innovation." Especially useful if you do a lot of early stage stuff. My best suggestion is to learn from your colleagues that have the formal training.

165. How often to do you hire post-PE associate-level candidates and at what level do they generally come on board (same level as someone who came in post IB or higher)? How have they handled the transition and how well/not well did PE prepare them? How is the focus on MBAs with regard to promotion compared to PE/IB? Also, how is the work life balance from a vacation perspective - how much time do you actually take off. Do people use their days or do you get funny looks if you take over two weeks?

Lots to answer and I think I've covered this upthread but I'll give you the summary here. We have hired people that have post-PE experience although as I've mentioned the 2 most traditional recruiting windows for us are straight out of banking / consulting (2-3 yrs) and post-MBA. Those that have come from PE (assuming they have 2-3 yrs of banking prior) would likely come in somewhere in the sr. manager level (give or take depending on experience). In terms of the transition those that have come from PE that have been the most successful are folks with consulting experience prior because they can understand the business strategy and operational requirements as opposed to pure deal structuring since most deals are acqui hires or traditional acquisitions - pretty plain vanilla deals. In terms of promotion of MBAs vs. PE/IB folks it doesn't really matter...all that matters is how good the individual is. I've seen people without MBAs or PE/IB experience get promoted faster because they were good. Lastly on vacation, I usually take ~ 3 weeks off (2 at Christmas time and then 1 in the spring / summer). It is not frowned upon and no one cares as long as you give enough of a heads up.

166. What are the common exit options from Corp Strat / Biz Dev? If I understand right, going into consulting / business school is the usual route out of CS&BD? What else are there? and what should I emphasize in my job experience to get into consulting MBB? Can you suggest good resources to refer to that gives an overview on the different stages in driving a deal from sourcing to evaluation to closure and integration?, and the technicalities and challenges in each stage? Also looking for good resources to brush up on strategic analysis, especially for the logistics industry.

Look upthread to see the common exit options from CS/CD/BD. I've outlined them in previous posts. Going to b-school is not an unusual route but going back into consulting is. In terms of emphasizing your experience to consulting MBB type firms focus on your experience in managing strategy projects from inception to execution, be able to highlight all of the different types of strategy projects you focused on, what you achieved, how you achieved them etc. In terms of good resources see suggestion in answer #164. Lastly from a resource standpoint in terms of the deal stages this varies significantly by company so I'd look to someone on your team for mentorship there.

Feb 8, 2013

How many people are typically on a corp dev team in a F100? I saw a presentation for a big pharma and they only had ~25 people. I was a bit surprised and thought there would be more given how many potential deals they have to sift through. Thanks.

Feb 8, 2013

166. How many people are typically on a corp dev team in a F100? I saw a presentation for a big pharma and they only had ~25 people. I was a bit surprised and thought there would be more given how many potential deals they have to sift through.

I guess I can speak to this both anecdotally and by looking at LinkedIn profiles.

Anedotally from the sample of large companies that I know relatively well in the tech space, most have corpdev team of anywhere from 10-25 people (sometimes these include corpstrat headcount as well).

A quick LinkedIn search for "current employees" with "corporate development" in their "current title" at "Fortune 100" companies (this field is one only available for premium users in case you can't access) yields a total of 1,290 employees which i guess averages out to ~13 corpdev employees per company.

If we do the same search but just for say one company (using Cardinal Health as the example for this search), I get 15 employees with titles ranging from EVP and SVP to analyst.

Feb 11, 2013

Harvardgrad - really appreciate your time / effort on this.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on why corp dev instead of PE / VC from a pure recruiting perspective. As we all know, one huge factor is lifestyle - but that is taboo to emphasize during an interview. The other obvious rationale is the ability to focus and specialize within an industry / sector (depending on the organization) versus a more generalist coverage at a buyside fund (also depending on the fund).

But beyond that, is more at hand? Is the opportunity to "build" and "evolve" a business from a long-term perspective, which in turn introduces a strategic / managerial element, unique to the role of corp dev vs. a financial sponsor?

Feb 13, 2013

Do you ever see people move from one Corp Dev/Strat group to another in a different industry, or are you pretty much tied to your industry after a few years working for your company?

Feb 14, 2013

167. I'd like to hear your thoughts on why corp dev instead of PE / VC from a pure recruiting perspective. As we all know, one huge factor is lifestyle - but that is taboo to emphasize during an interview. The other obvious rationale is the ability to focus and specialize within an industry / sector (depending on the organization) versus a more generalist coverage at a buyside fund (also depending on the fund). But beyond that, is more at hand? Is the opportunity to "build" and "evolve" a business from a long-term perspective, which in turn introduces a strategic / managerial element, unique to the role of corp dev vs. a financial sponsor?

For me personally it was less around focus and specialization within an industry / sector - which to a certain extent you can get at a VC / PE fund. My decision was more aligned with your latter point. I wanted to be at a company within an industry im passionate about where from a long-term perspective I could have opportunities to work on product and evolve into a role where I would be a decision maker helping to shape the strategy and direction of a company.

168. Do you ever see people move from one Corp Dev/Strat group to another in a different industry, or are you pretty much tied to your industry after a few years working for your company?

For the most part people tend to stay within similar industries. People may move to companies within different sub-sectors (e.g. going from a software company to a consumer internet company within the tech space) but it's pretty rare to see someone move from a cd/cs role in tech to say pharma or oil/energy, etc. While it happens occasionally it is not the norm. The only industries that I've seen people move between a decent amount is between tech and media & entertainment. The reason people don't really move is that if you are moving into cd/cs you are usually trying to do it within an industry you are interested in or passionate about. Even if i was offered a great role at a company within a very different industry from tech I would likely not take it as I'd like to make my career within tech. My guidance for people moving into cd/cs is to really be thoughtful about what industry you want to work in.

Feb 18, 2015
harvardgrad08:

168. Do you ever see people move from one Corp Dev/Strat group to another in a different industry, or are you pretty much tied to your industry after a few years working for your company?

For the most part people tend to stay within similar industries. People may move to companies within different sub-sectors (e.g. going from a software company to a consumer internet company within the tech space) but it's pretty rare to see someone move from a cd/CS role in tech to say pharma or oil/energy, etc. While it happens occasionally it is not the norm. The only industries that I've seen people move between a decent amount is between tech and media & entertainment. The reason people don't really move is that if you are moving into cd/CS you are usually trying to do it within an industry you are interested in or passionate about. Even if i was offered a great role at a company within a very different industry from tech I would likely not take it as I'd like to make my career within tech. My guidance for people moving into cd/cs is to really be thoughtful about what industry you want to work in.

I really want to highlight how important this is. I currently work in Corp Strat in a non-Tech Fortune 100 company and am currently trying to move over to a CS role in a big tech company. I lucky to say I've gotten some traction recently but when I speak with people, most seem question my interest/passion in tech. Only through demonstrating interest in other ways was I able to pass through that barrier.

Mar 28, 2016

great insight!! would you mind to elaborate on how you showed interest? eg. talked about recent deals in tech? reading materials etc you used to get more insight on tech industry? thanks a lot!

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Feb 16, 2013

This thread is an awesome read, props for keeping it going!

Feb 16, 2013

Hey harvardgrad08,

I recently started as an out of undergrad finance analyst for a F100 pharmaceuticals company. I am expected to rotate through 2-3 groups, with my first being FP&A.

For moving into corp dev after the rotation program , aside from networking, which groups do you feel would provide the best skillset and improve my candidacy? Also curious to hear which groups you worked in during your rotations before moving to corp dev.

Thanks!

Feb 27, 2013

Hey Harvardgrad08, thanks for doing this. Not sure if I'm late, and if you are not answering anymore, but I thought I'd try anyways:

I recently received an offer to be an Analyst in this company's in-house M&A/corp dev. team (non-F500, only $200 mln in market cap). Right now, they have a director, who does everything, and he really needs an analyst that reports to him. The director reports to the CFO. Now, the company went downward after 2008. All execs took pay cuts, and the bottom line and cash was not great at all. However, since this earnings season, they have reported their first substantial profitable quarter, and it's huge. They are getting ready to acquire many other companies and are really growing (evident in their financials). They just got a round of term debt and have the capex in place to grow their operations even more.

Should I really consider this offer -- given that this may be the start/foundation of an entirely new company? Also, according to CapitalIQ, compensation has been trending up.

Also, in the near future, if I would want to go back to banking, how possible would that be?

Thanks!

Feb 28, 2013

169. I recently started as an out of undergrad finance analyst for a F100 pharmaceuticals company. I am expected to rotate through 2-3 groups, with my first being FP&A. For moving into corp dev after the rotation program , aside from networking, which groups do you feel would provide the best skillset and improve my candidacy? Also curious to hear which groups you worked in during your rotations before moving to corp dev.

It's a bit hard to comment because these kinds of questions are very company specific. The best groups to improve your candidacy could vary from company to company because of various factors like historical prestige (e.g. audit group at GE) or who the leader is or how many former corpdev guys are on the team, etc. That said, in very general terms the best groups to improve your corpdev candidacy are 1) strategy teams (for obvious reasons), 2) FP&A roles that function as "decision support" teams (e.g. teams that help the execs model scenarios for decisions they'd like to make, markets to enter, etc.), 3) market & competitive intelligence teams. I would rather not comment on which groups as it could help identity me :) but it was a combination of corpdev, strategy and FP&A teams.

170. I recently received an offer to be an Analyst in this company's in-house M&A/corp dev. team (non-F500, only $200 mln in market cap). Right now, they have a director, who does everything, and he really needs an analyst that reports to him. The director reports to the CFO. Now, the company went downward after 2008. All execs took pay cuts, and the bottom line and cash was not great at all. However, since this earnings season, they have reported their first substantial profitable quarter, and it's huge. They are getting ready to acquire many other companies and are really growing (evident in their financials). They just got a round of term debt and have the capex in place to grow their operations even more. Should I really consider this offer -- given that this may be the start/foundation of an entirely new company? Also, according to CapitalIQ, compensation has been trending up.

I assume you are joining post-banking? The decision to join is situation dependent. The key considerations I would evaluate are 1) interest in the industry (you need to have passion for the space if not you are going to hate your job), 2) company's growth prospects & your ability to participate in that upside (seems like youve done your DD on the co. but given how small it is you should be able to secure some equity), 3) your career progression opportunities at the company (e.g. can you move up quickly and get to say director in a couple of years? I assume at such a small shop the answer is yes).

My personal opinion (so take it with a grain of salt) on this situation is that unless you are 1) SUPER interested in the industry, 2) getting decent equity and 3) believe the company is about to explode (from a growth perspective meaning that the equity you get is going to become material) then I would not take the offer. Reason being that the company is way too small and if you are coming from banking you could find better corpdev opportunities at true hyper-growth companies or at "big-name" companies - which at this stage in your career is important.

171. Also, in the near future, if I would want to go back to banking, how possible would that be?

You could probably pretty easily go back to your old firm assuming they like you :). In terms of going to other shops it will depend on what bank / group you worked for before because this type of corpdev experience likely wouldn't "move the needle" in terms of helping you secure another banking job (company is just too small). However, if the company has huge growth, you do a bunch of good deals, etc. then it would definitely help. All that said, having this experience won't preclude you from going back to banking...you could easily move back to a comparable bank (e.g. if you were in MM before you could go back...but won't help you in going from MM to BB).

Feb 28, 2013

Thanks for your advice -- I'm coming from banking, but with only 6 months of exp., they (corp dev) offered me 70k with no equity right now plus "discretionary bonus". The growth prospects are legit, and the company will def grow. All analysts have a strong buy/buy recommendation right now for the stock. One major reason I am truly considering it is because it will be a two man team, with significant heat/exposure to mgmt. I would obv. be staffed on every deal, and since these guys have many products, they would probably be diff. deals each time.

Mar 20, 2013

Thanks for this great thread.

What kind of case studies should one expect during a Business Development interview? In addition, what kinds of things do you look for in the candidate's response to the question?

I had a recent interview at a Media firm where I was given a Case Study. Basically, I was given 4-5 data points for an app (active users, price per app download, ad revenue, costs to Apple and Android, and hosting costs), and asked how I would asses this app when deciding whether or not to enter into a partnership/licensing agreement with it.

Needless to say, I was stumped on THIS kind of Case Study. Is this the norm kind of questions to expect? If so, what would be the best way to approach this?

May 30, 2013
dabulls312:

Thanks for this great thread.

What kind of case studies should one expect during a Business Development interview? In addition, what kinds of things do you look for in the candidate's response to the question?

I had a recent interview at a Media firm where I was given a Case Study. Basically, I was given 4-5 data points for an app (active users, price per app download, ad revenue, costs to Apple and Android, and hosting costs), and asked how I would asses this app when deciding whether or not to enter into a partnership/licensing agreement with it.

Needless to say, I was stumped on THIS kind of Case Study. Is this the norm kind of questions to expect? If so, what would be the best way to approach this?

I don't do tech, but from those data points you could infer revenue/active user, margins (you have costs) and you'd have a sense of the barriers to entry (low) so you might want to ask some questions on where revenue growth would come from (is the active users count in the millions or hundreds, what's the revenue/per person), current and future competition (probably high), sustainability of growth/revenue/margins/product life, your costs to partner with them, etc.

Pretty normal to expect these questions - I ask them all the time.

Aug 25, 2016

Really awesome thread. Thanks so much for answering all of these questions, harvardgrad08.

Apr 1, 2013
MBA_to_CorpStrat:

Really awesome thread. Thanks so much for answering all of these questions, harvardgrad08.

I just gave you all 3 of my first Silver Bananas ... I suppose that means you just took my SB-card ... quite the accomplishment; be sure to add it to your never-ending list of accolades

Thanks appreciate it...man 2+ years and still taking questions on this thing :)

    • 1
Apr 1, 2013
harvardgrad08:
MBA_to_CorpStrat:

Really awesome thread. Thanks so much for answering all of these questions, harvardgrad08.

I just gave you all 3 of my first Silver Bananas ... I suppose that means you just took my SB-card ... quite the accomplishment; be sure to add it to your never-ending list of accolades

Thanks appreciate it...man 2+ years and still taking questions on this thing :)

Yea, we really appreciate this! Crazy bastard even put all your Qs and As in a word doc, which is awesome...

Here's a more personal question, sorry if it's been asked (you've answered so many, good lord): where do you plan to go with your career? Stay in dev or move to a different group? Timeframe if you plan on moving?

Apr 1, 2013

172. What kind of case studies should one expect during a Business Development interview? In addition, what kinds of things do you look for in the candidate's response to the question?

The question that you got is very typical for a "business development" role. It's kind of a case but they want to see if you know how to structure a deal defining the key levers, identifying the key considerations, risks, etc. For example on the one you got you would first look to define why you would want to do a deal with the app from a strategic standpoint, then define what it is you would look to get from the app if you did a partnership (would they drive traffic to your site / property? is it an opportunity for you to be a distributor for the app and get some sort of rev share? etc.). Then you would highlight how you would structure that specific deal...what kind of terms, etc.

    • 1
Apr 2, 2013
harvardgrad08:

172. What kind of case studies should one expect during a Business Development interview? In addition, what kinds of things do you look for in the candidate's response to the question?

The question that you got is very typical for a "business development" role. It's kind of a case but they want to see if you know how to structure a deal defining the key levers, identifying the key considerations, risks, etc. For example on the one you got you would first look to define why you would want to do a deal with the app from a strategic standpoint, then define what it is you would look to get from the app if you did a partnership (would they drive traffic to your site / property? is it an opportunity for you to be a distributor for the app and get some sort of rev share? etc.). Then you would highlight how you would structure that specific deal...what kind of terms, etc.

Thanks for the response. I wasn't as clear. I approached the case that way, but was told to disregard any strategic implications on "our" end and just focus on how I would evaluate the sustainability/feasibility of the app. So basically looking at it from an investor/VC perspective (as opposed to the partnership perspective) and just analyzing the app with the information I was given (i.e. daily active users, revenue and costs). I didn't really have much knowledge of apps (on the data/metrics side), so I didn't really know what type of questions or key things to look at.

In terms of your response, do you know any other sources one can look at to learn more about that component of the role (i.e. deal structure, terms, etc.)?

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