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MC Career Advice

#1 MC Career Advice
21/03/2013 19:50


Dear All,

I've been following the forum for a couple of years now and benefited greatly from some cases discussed here about career advice. Now I need one myself :)

I have around 4 years MC experience and recently moved to a new role in life sciences strategy consulting (consultant level). It's been around 1 year since my move but I don't find the industry attractive for my long term career (do not have performance issues etc - just to give a perspective). I seem to have a couple of options:

- Business Development role in industry: Involves all activities from target definition (business or product) up to before transaction

- Associate role in strategy department of a holding: Mostly market analysis and investment recommendation

- Senior Consultant in commercial due diligence & strategy department for Big 4

Among these options which one do you think seems to be a smart move (keeping as-is is of course the 4th option). My long term goal is to either work for strategy department in industry or in a private equity/startup environment.

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#2 RE: MC Career Advice
22/03/2013 07:50

tom1 to AnonCons (#1)

Option 2 or 3. Although I'd go for option 3 personally, you are still junior in the world of MC and the insight a CDD type role could give you across a number of industry clients and PE firms would help build your network and make you a more rounded consultant..

However, that's only my personal thoughts!

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#3 RE: MC Career Advice
22/03/2013 09:32

AnonCons to tom1 (#2)

Thanks tom1, really appreciated

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#4 RE: MC Career Advice
22/03/2013 17:05

marsday to AnonCons (#1)

With consulting exp already under your belt, I would opt for option 2 then 3 in that order. As tom1 pointed out the CDD experience at a Big 4 would be useful...up to a point, but there are just as many people doing that in banks and PE firms already and it can be hard to get yourself noticed unless you happen to land on a very high profile transaction. PE firms generally dont look to Big 4 for their hires.

option 2 - strategy associate in a holding - will both position you in the PE universe (and its a small place) and will also give you experience on actual deals in their portfolio, perhaps initially in only one holding but all it takes is to get asked for your input on one cash call and you've stepped up to get yourself noticed.

PE is intensely competitive to get into - not least because the money is very good but the hours not very hard. They can afford the brightest and best, even cherry picking from IB and MC. But ultimately it's about fitting in and being seen as part of their world - something very hard to do from a Big 4 CDD role (not impossible though).

But this is also just my personal view.

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#5 RE: MC Career Advice
25/03/2013 09:28

AnonCons to marsday (#4)

Thanks a lot Marsday, I'm also inclined towards option 2 and 3 (mainly because option 1 is not in an industry I prefer and I don't know how sustainable is the role after some time, it's a 3 people team).

My concern for option 3 is that it is a CDD and Strategy role. I don't know the distribution of projects between strategy and CDD. As I have done similar work to CDD in the past (landscape assessment, business plan...) I suspect the role can be too data oriented due to CDD part and less storyboarding etc (to simplify things I like ppt part of MC more than xls :)). Can anybody share their opinions regarding this?

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#6 RE: MC Career Advice
25/03/2013 10:18

marsday to AnonCons (#5)

on that information, why on earth would you aspire to get into PE? What do you think you'll be doing most of the time in a PE fund?

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#7 RE: MC Career Advice
26/03/2013 15:22

AnonCons to marsday (#6)

Marsday, you're right let me detail what i meant. In my experience with private equities (only 2 firms by the way), I dealt with people whose target is to improve portfolio companies. They were responsible for post merger activities. Although their role also had an analytic aspect, it was a mixture of operating responsibility (improve portfolio company) and analysis (track results for portfolio company). In one case that role was handled by a senior employee, in the other company by someone similar to my background.

As I said, I'm not sure if this is a basic fact for PE or company specific. If this is the case, I'm worried CDD may slim my chances for such a position in the future. I'm also considering my chances for the other option, strategy department in industry.

Like I said, I'm open to any correction and your help is very much appreciated, thanks again marsday.

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#8 RE: MC Career Advice
26/03/2013 15:48

marsday to AnonCons (#7)

PE funds dont often hire someone in just to improve the portfolio, not as a permanent position in any case. Far more commonplace is to either hire in an experienced interim/contractor/consultant to do the work, or (and you need to look carefully at this) to engage a consulting firm to do it, and it is not uncommon for firms which specialise in this to be owned by PE firms themselves. Much of the work within PE itself (employed by the fund) will be transactional in nature - identifying and securing suitable acquistions, and looking at the investment case for that acquisition. Expect a lot of analytical work - which is why their first hiring priority is typically an Associate from a bulge bracket, and then perhaps from the likes of MBB. And they have no shortage of applicants from either route, in what has become a one out one in industry.

What you are looking for is a kind of work which actually sits within the mainstream of consulting, you just need to ensure you are getting into the right firms, either specialists or who have a specialist practice. Work around performance improvement, turnaround, potentially restructuring (although that effectively brings you back close to the analytical type work and a finance or legal background is usually needed) is all relevant here.

So, now we have clarified what you want to do, options 2 and 3 are still the right ones. Option 2 - position yourself in the portfolio itself and do a great job on it, but this assumes that you'll get the opportunities to deliver a significant performance improvement or be able to handle a restructuring situation which at 4 years experience is unlikely. You'll need to try and catch the eye of a PE fund which, other than the observer on th board, is likely to be quite a distant entity in your BAU life. It's a credible option though. Option 3 - the one you seem most reluctant about, will in fact give you just what you need - direct exposure to funds, CDD experience (it's absolutely essential, trust me) and the very useful Big 4 business card. All the Big 4 have thriving corporate recovery practices fuelled by PE business, so they will already have the reputation and roster of contacts. You dont need to be advising KKR, most PE funds are midmarket focused where the deals are. You will need the CDD experience - how else will you be able to design and run a diagnostic across a disparate portfolio and design the models to determine which will be merged, carved out or divested? How will you be able to determine where capital investment should go or whether to run down one business unit as non core to free up working capital for another?

A PE firm will want its pound of flesh - yes they can be exciting, vibrant organisations and utterly compelling. But they will want to know you can be paid the big bucks and left to get on with it. What appeals to them is the breadth MCs bring to the table - banking is very binary, meaning IB backgrounds are great at the transactional work, but useless downstream. Tracking performance isnt going to be a demanding role - certainly wont stretch you as a PE portfolio is inherently less volatiile than say a hedge fund, or even a mutual. You need to be focusing on the mid-game for the fund, and that means knowing how to build value which will be realised on a mid-term time horizon - so the strat role in house will give you that visibility, but from a fixed point, the CDD experience in Big 4 will give you the tools to work it out across floating points.

Either way will work.

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#9 RE: MC Career Advice
28/03/2013 16:33

AnonCons to marsday (#8)

Thanks a lot for the insights!

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#10 RE: MC Career Advice
26/08/2013 09:53

AnonCons to AnonCons (#9)

Just to give an update, I went ahead with the corporate strategy role in conglamorate. Thanks once more for the insights provided here

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#11 RE: MC Career Advice
26/08/2013 09:53

AnonCons to AnonCons (#9)

Just to give an update, I went ahead with the corporate strategy role in conglamorate. Thanks once more for the insights provided here

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