Career Stories: Steve Burt, MBA ’15 – Top 10 Tips and Tools for Navigating a Career Transition from Consulting to Private Equity

After completing his MBA in 2015, Steve Burt, MBA ’15, pursued a career path in consulting, refining his skills and gaining valuable experience. Post-MBA Steve was a consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton in Dubai, working with institutional financial clients, as well as a consultant in the United States working with portfolio companies of private equity firms. A few years later, Steve took a bold step and pivoted his career from consulting to private equity.  Steve was drawn to the partnership aspect of private equity where investors can facilitate a firm’s growth with mutually beneficial aligned incentives.

Today, Steve is a Director at Wafra, an alternative asset manager. He supports their Outsourced Chief Investment Officer (OCIO) capability via manager origination and diligence in private equity and real estate strategies. For their self-managed funds, Steve supports thematic investment research and diligence in private equity and real assets and opportunities.

Below, discover the 10 tips and tools he utilized to navigate his career transition from consulting to private equity.

  1.  Develop a “PE” Resume: Rewrite your resume to be tailored to PE recruiters, headhunters, and hiring managers in the industry. Adapt your resume to highlight experiences that are translatable to PE workstreams such as sourcing, modeling, diligence, negotiation, value-creation, and post-deal monitoring
  2. Seek Consulting Projects Adjacent to PE: As a consultant looking to break into PE, build the competencies PE firms look for; projects with a heavy modeling component or in industries that your target PE firms specialize in can help you build a career story to boost your candidacy. As a consultant looking to break into PE, you must be able to convey to the firm how your experience can be value-add over traditional backgrounds like banking.
  3. Consider Value-Creation Roles: In the post-ZIRP world, PE firms are focusing on driving returns via value creation initiatives – improving processes, identifying efficiencies, and growing revenue. These project areas are well-suited for consultant skills and expertise. Value-creation is no longer the realm of mega funds, and more opportunities are being created at large and mid-sized PE funds which could be a target for ex-consultants. Firms staff these initiatives via experienced c-suite alums often called Operating Partners, but certain value-creation models require staffing from consulting ranks as well.
  4. Hone Your Interview Skills: Your MBA journey constantly sharpens your interview and recruiting skills, but it’s crucial to keep these skills polished even after landing your first post-MBA role. Careers are dynamic with many role changes and transitions, so the importance of maintaining sharp interview skills cannot be overstated. By staying on top of your interviewing game, you position yourself for success throughout your career.
  5. Assess Company Culture: It’s important to thoroughly assess the company culture before you decide to join a new organization, ensuring that it aligns with your personal values and professional objectives. A positive cultural fit can significantly impact your job satisfaction and overall career trajectory. Leverage your network and speak to firm alums to assess a firm’s culture.
  6. Assess Company Growth Opportunities: It’s crucial to evaluate the growth opportunities that your potential employer offers. While cultural alignment is essential, so too is the potential for your own professional development and advancement. Consider whether this is a company where you can grow and develop your career in the direction you’re aiming.
  7. Tap into the MIT Network: The extensive network of Sloanies is a goldmine of invaluable insights and strategic support. By actively engaging with this influential network and consistently nurturing your connections, you not only gain access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise but also position yourself to receive mentorship, advice, and opportunities that can prove instrumental along your career journey.
  8. Clarify Your “Ask” in Networking: The clarity of your objectives when networking is a determinant of your success. By precisely defining what you aim to achieve during networking interactions, you increase the likelihood of fostering meaningful conversations, establishing genuine connections, and ultimately reaping the benefits of those connections.
  9. Understand Their Goals: Networking is a two-way street, and it’s essential to recognize that everyone you connect with has their own set of goals and ambitions. Going beyond surface-level interactions, make an effort to understand the aspirations and objectives of the individuals you engage with. By aligning your networking efforts with their goals and offering your assistance, you not only deepen your connections but also open doors to unexpected opportunities and collaborations that can propel your career forward in the future.
  10. Embrace Rejection: In the journey of career transition, resilience is essential. It’s important to acknowledge that rejection is common in the pursuit of new opportunities. While you may encounter “no” on numerous occasions, always remember that it only takes one “yes.” So, embrace rejection as a natural part of the process and maintain determination in your career transition.

Steve is an MIT Sloan Industry Advisor and is happy to share his expertise regarding career conversations in investing, asset management, consulting, and finance. He can also provide insights into strategic issues spanning various industries. Click here to schedule an appointment.

By MIT Sloan CDO