Without an MBA, How to Succeed in Private Equity Careers

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Private equity (PE) firms are exclusive and hire the brightest minds.

They say getting into a Private Equity Industry is the toughest job since it is described to be an exclusive club that hires only top b-school graduates (preferably MBA), former strategy consultants, graduates from ivy league institutions, and former investment bankers.

Well, this is not always the case.

  • PE firms are also known to hire,
  • Undergrads for junior-level job roles, e.g. Private equity analyst.
  • Professionals having extensive work experience in multiple PE firms.
  • Investment banking analysts from elite boutique banks.

Although an MBA degree stands as a stepping stone to getting into most C-suite jobs, you can still be one of the sharp-suited financiers in your firm even without an MBA.

If you’re not aware, not all private equity career jobs require candidates with an MBA.

Career in Private equity

The PE firms can also extend offer jobs to undergrads, certified equity professional, accountants, and engineers under certain considerations.

Getting into private equity jobs can be tricky but not impossible.

An engineering graduate and a former Vice President at one of the top-ten global investment firms, Mr. X made a career in private equity. Before taking his first private equity job Mr. X trained at a top consulting firm.

According to Mr. X, the aim of private equity professionals should always depend on finding significant investment opportunities as compared to your competitors.

Of the two firms Mr. X previously worked, he says both the firms have one common feature — they are more focused on the long-term investment size and profile. And this is one major problem with all the MBAs. It can get difficult to distinguish the PE players from the outside because they all sound just the same.

So, according to Mr. X, the only way to break into the PE career is to first understand the major operational functions taking place between PE firms and to dig deeper with your research. Most private equity firms run their operations like banks with face-time and a lot of hierarchy while others like to be a lot more practical.

The best way to get into PE firms is to understand the market first-hand and take feedback from different players in the industry.

According to Mr. X, he thinks getting an MBA in the U.S. is by default while none of the 20 people working in the private equity firms has an MBA.

What’s Mr. X’s view of building careers in private equity?

A candidate with an MBA provides three things, educational content, network, and time to think. Whereas a candidate without an MBA might still gain educational content, however, they may lose the network and time to think.

But Mr. X sacrificed his thinking time, and instead opted for private equity certifications, a part-time career advancement, which he studied during the weekends.

Overall, Mr. X is happy. Even though he didn’t have an MBA degree, he still made it to one of the top PE firms. The  Chartered Private Equity Professional (CPEP™) certification program offered by the United States Private Equity Council (USPEC) grooms you with the latest skills needed by PE firms. And since you don’t have an MBA, opting for a certification program is an ideal way to get into private equity.

Since PE firms are smaller in size as compared to investment banks, they already have a predefined job specification for the candidate they’re looking to hire. This applies to both freshers and experienced professionals.

The certification program offered by USPEC is highly regarded in the industry. To get certified, you must take the examination. This certification is demonstrated as an excellent differentiator for anyone looking to get into private equity.

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