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The Path to Success: Building a Thriving Career in Private Equity


Congratulations! You’ve got your dream private equity! But that is just the first step of the private equity journey. Now, it is time to hunker down and build your career. Building a thriving career starts with climbing the ladder. Private equity firms are typically very hierarchical, with multiple levels of professionals needing to move up to make it to the title of MD or Partner. The first step in this journey is setting yourself up t to get promoted. Getting promoted at a private equity firm requires a combination of strong performance, leadership qualities, and building relationships within and outside the firm. Here are some steps to increase your chances of promotion:


Excel in your Current Role

Building a fruitful career in private equity starts from the ground up. The basic first step is to focus on delivering exceptional results in your current position. You should make sure to meet or exceed expectations for your role, demonstrate a strong work ethic, and consistently produce high-quality work. Even in the smallest and simplest tasks, make sure to be very detail-oriented and that your work is flawless. The sooner you can prove you are a hardworking and detailed employee, the sooner your bosses will feel comfortable trusting your work product. This will allow you to take on additional responsibilities and seek opportunities to contribute beyond your assigned tasks.


Display a Proactive Attitude

Now that your colleagues can trust your work, it is important to show initiative in your projects. The tasks performed by private equity teams are repeated on many deals. Once you have learned more about the process your team utilizes, take the initiative by working through these tasks without being asked. Further, associates are typically the closest to the models and some of the industry research. You can take the initiative by identifying opportunities for improvement and suggesting innovative solutions in these models and research-related tasks. Additionally, you can be proactive in seeking feedback from supervisors and implementing suggestions for growth and development.


Continuously Improve your Skills & Work on your Weaknesses

Private equity is a dynamic industry, and staying ahead requires ongoing learning. As you work in  teams, you will quickly learn where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Make sure to not only lean on your strengths but also work on your weaknesses. Like with many roles, many of the skills associates tend to be weak at are actually the most important skills for senior team members. Additionally, you should seek opportunities to stay up-to-date with industry trends. If applicable to your role and team, you can pursue additional certifications or advanced degrees like MBAs, attend relevant seminars or workshops, and engage in self-study of industries and sectors to deepen your knowledge.


Take on Leadership Roles within the Firm Wherever Possible

Even as a new analyst or associate, you can find ways to take on leadership roles within an organization. You should actively seek out opportunities to lead initiatives within the firm, whether it’s managing a deal team, spearheading a project or initiative, or mentoring junior colleagues. Initiatives that junior staff can become involved with include DEI, recruiting, and ESG. Taking on these types of leadership roles can show your ability to handle responsibility and guide others. Leadership skills are highly valued in private equity, and showcasing them can set you apart.


Build Strong Relationships within the Firm through Networking

Networking is critical for career advancement, especially in private equity firms. You should aim to cultivate relationships with colleagues, supervisors, and senior executives by attending firm events, engaging in social activities, and participating in internal committees or working groups. You can also build strong relationships in the firm by collaborating effectively with others, demonstrating strong communication skills, and showing a willingness to help and support your teammates. To build closer relationships in the firm with team members who will vouch for your promotion, make sure to seek out mentors who can provide guidance and advice on navigating your career path within the firm.


Communicate your Career Aspirations Effectively

Like with any career, it is essential to have candid conversations with your supervisors or mentors about your career goals. You should feel comfortable sharing your long-term aspirations and seeking guidance on the steps you need to take to achieve them. Be proactive in discussing your interest in advancement and seeking feedback on areas where you can improve. The only way for others to know how or where they can help is to give them the opportunity  by communicating your goals. Further, senior professionals are always looking for a new generation of leaders at a fund and communicating your aspirations can help them guide you effectively.


Seek Opportunities for Lateral Moves In and Outside your Firm

Sometimes, a lateral move within the firm can provide you with new experiences and exposure to different areas of the business. Larger private equity firms typically have multiple industry groups or product groups that consist of entirely different team members. Working with different types of teams can help you learn about new industries and different ways of investing. Further, increasing your touch points can help you show your skills to different influential members of the firm. Consider exploring lateral opportunities to broaden your skill set and increase your chances of promotion in the future.

If a lateral move is not possible or if there is no path upward for you at your current fund, consider a move to another fund. Many times, private equity firms are willing to promote associates to senior associates or VP to entice an associate to move funds. Along with the promotion and job change can come a salary increase.

Building a thriving career in private equity is a long road. Promotion is the only way up the ladder, so make sure to put yourself in the right position to be promoted. Remember, the promotion process can vary across firms, so it’s essential to understand your firm’s specific criteria and expectations. Regularly seek feedback, be adaptable, and remain dedicated to your professional growth to position yourself for advancement opportunities.


Are you preparing for the buyside? Schedule a call now with our top coaches or submit your application directly here and we’ll be in touch! Our experienced coaches will work with you to set and achieve your goals and provide support and guidance along the way.

You can also check our various course curriculums for different careers (i.e. investment banking, private equity, VC, etc.) and how our process works.

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