VP Work-Life Balance Worse than Associate?

Hey guys! I'm a relatively new (promoted YE 2020) VP at a growth equity firm and am finding it tough to keep my head above water getting started. 

As an associate, ~60% of my job was sourcing… which is kind of nice from a work-life perspective because 1) it's a largely self-driven event, you can control how active it is based on deals / bandwidth, and 2) no CEO is gonna take your call at 10 PM on a weekend so "at desk" hours were relatively predictable when not on something live (20-30% of the time) 

Now as a VP I am basically involved in live deals and/or early stage ones where we are very serious 100% of the time and am quickly finding that everything is a fire drill and I'm getting blown up all the time.

I'm sure my buyout peers won't have much sympathy for me here, but would be curious if this is just a byproduct of my earlyish tenure and will normalize with time, or if my sorry WLB is here to stay. And any tips on how to better manage the transition would be awesome as wel! 

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Comments (11)

Most Helpful
  • Associate 1 in PE - LBOs
Jul 14, 2021 - 1:12am

In my mind as a jaded buyout associate - and I mean this comment half in jest and half seriously - the trick is to either lean in to being chained to the job mentally, or realize that nothing is actually a fire drill, you're just in an industry where everyone collectively buys into fire drills.

99% of the things that my VPs freak out over are meaningless, but everyone senior to them and in adjacent positions has bought into as having significance.

Jul 15, 2021 - 11:47am

I'll echo this a bit. Part of what you're experiencing right now is that you don't know what does and does not need immediate attention. So to make sure nothing slips you are treating everything as if it does. This is something you learn to manage over time, or at least you better. If you don't start clearly identifying what needs to be done right now vs in a few hours vs in a few days/weeks, then you will have a very hard road ahead. Because there is another factor that hasn't been mentioned. The more successful you are at building your network, the busier you will get and until you are an MD you have to do more than field calls all day. There are some days my phone literally rings off the hook non-stop with people trying to shop a deal with me and I don't get a chance to pay attention to "real work" until the normal business day is done. If you get to this point and you haven't learned to clearly identify priorities, you're hosed. Enjoy being a wage slave. 

Jul 14, 2021 - 9:52am

I'm in growth equity (senior associate level) where 50% of my job is sourcing, and my hours are worse than my VP's hours. Of couse this is just one data point, and my hours aren't bad (average 50-60 per week, except for live deals when it gets up to banking hours).

What you mentioned about getting caught up in fire drills on live and/or early-stage deals is a good point. I think that the VPs who do the best to manage their hours are the ones who are able to distinguish between what is truly a live deal where you need to be very hands-on, and an early-stage deal where you don't need to treat everything as a fire drill. They also make very quick go vs. no-go decisions on deals so that they can save their bandwidth for the ones that matter. Not sure if that helps at all, but I'm sure it's something that you'll get better at over time as you transition into the role. It's something I'm thinking about as I move up the ranks as well. 

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Jul 14, 2021 - 3:58pm

Do you mind sharing what size of fund your at and what your comp progression in GE looks like? Looks like you have good hours

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Jul 14, 2021 - 11:09pm

Fund size is $1B-$5B, and comp is in line with what buyout associates at similar fund sizes make. 

In general, as an associate in growth equity you can probably expect to make $200-300k. VP cash comp (salary + bonus) is probably $300-500k depending on fund size ($350-450k is probably the middle range with some outliers), and of course VP is generally when you start getting meaningful carry as well.

The Heidrick and Struggles report has a good breakdown of comp progession by size of fund. In general, GE comp looks pretty similar to PE comp and the variations are going to be due to fund size.  

  • Associate 3 in PE - LBOs
Jul 14, 2021 - 10:22am

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