Would an MBA be worth it after 3 years in IBD for PE?

smalltown093's picture
Rank: Monkey | 63

Hi everyone! Happy New Year!

I recently had to leave my top tier BB after 3 years due to visa issue and have been wondering if I should look at an MBA as the next step. I have been interested in trying out PE but due to visa issue I haven't had the chance to recruit during my 3 years in IB.

My understanding is that the traditional path is 3 years in top BB -> 2 years in top PE -> HSW or M7 in general -> post-MBA PE associate / VP role. Since I don't currently have any experience in PE at all and only have 3 years of work experience, I am not sure if I will truly benefit from a top tier MBA program as the post-MBA PE roles almost always require pre-MBA PE experience. Honestly, if, after getting my MBA, I need to compete with current BB analysts for *PRE-MBA" associate roles, would pursuing this degree be worth the time and resources at all?

Also, like I said, I think I have an interest in trying out PE but am not entirely positive that I will like the experience / be good at it. So if I eventually decide to pursue other finance routes such as corporate development / strategy / corporate finance, would an MBA be of substantial value? I understand an MBA is incredibly helpful for anyone who wants to switch into finance without prior experience, so I would appreciate any insights on how much it can help in my case given my goals and background.

Thank you!

Comments (9)

Jan 15, 2020


Jan 15, 2020

It is possible to break into PE coming out of HSW; I know a few people from my class who made a transition. Being a former banker will make it easier (slightly easier than consulting for example) but make no mistake it's going to require dedication and a lot of networking. You get some benefit for the visa story which could help you justify why you didn't try before.

For the record, looking at my class the other day, only about 2/3 the folks who started in PE remained in PE (about 10% of the class); and the vast majority, like 7-8pp, are NOT at multi-billion funds. Keep your expectations reasonable!

ETA: yes, an MBA will be extremely helpful in moving into BD/CD or finance roles. A big chunk of my class now works in these positions especially in VC-backed / midsize companies.

Jan 16, 2020

Hey thanks so much for the input! Much appreciated. Just out of curiosity, for the people in your class who went to PE after HSW, did they step into a post-MBA associate / VP role or a pre-MBA role? I'm asking because oftentimes PE roles post-MBA would require prior PE experience, but perhaps the HSW brand name + a lot of networking + prior IB experience could justify an exception here?

Regarding BD/CD, I absolutely agree with you that an MBA will be helpful. However, given that I currently have 3 years banking experience and technically could easily move to BD / CD if there wasn't the visa issue, I guess I just wanted to see if an MBA is a must-have in this case. The majority of my friends in banking moved directly to BD even after just 2 years so I guess you could argue that an MBA is not needed? Interested to hear your take too.

Thanks again for the info!

Jan 16, 2020

You know, despite a lot of ink spilled over the demise of the MBA, the fact of the matter is that getting an MBA still accelerates your career - full stop. No one I know of was offered a pre-MBA position anywhere, PE included. And, for CD jobs, it's a much easier path to VP level having an MBA. Just remember that it's a certification of quality that is easily comprehensible to the average American (more so than "IBD at GS" which may just sound like you have Crohn's).

Can you be eminently successful without an MBA, sure, no doubt. Do I know anyone who went to HSW that regretted the credential, not a soul.

Sorry about your visa issue by the way. That deeply sucks.

  • Associate 1 in VC
Jan 16, 2020

How would someone coming form a ~$5B fund move to a similar or larger fund using H/S/W as a transition? The (genuine) story would be around not going back to the previous fund because of wanting to move cities and now being very recently married, wanting to pop out some kids in the next couple years, and grind it out to Partner.

Jan 16, 2020

This doesn't sound hard. You just identify your target firm and build relationships there while in bschool, leveraging your alumni network. Don't overthink it.

    • 1
Jan 16, 2020

most people out of my HSW class who broke into PE without prior experience were women with finance / consulting / corporate development backgrounds. some of them took associate level roles and others managed to land post-MBA titles.

it's definitely an uphill battle but doable if you can find a way to differentiate yourself.

    • 1
Jan 17, 2020

I did this myself. BB->MBA->MF Post MBA role.

Doable but very difficult. Also note that a lot of MM PE don't sponsor.

I would actually try to land a PE job directly, as a pre-MBA associate if I were you. I think that's a lot easier.

Jan 17, 2020