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Tips to Lead the Next Generation of Dealmakers

Uncover exclusive advice from industry experts on how to break into and excel in private equity and investment banking.

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April 24, 2024

Making a name for yourself in private equity and investment banking — and in the financial industry in general — has never been easy. But ongoing market uncertainties have resulted in lower deal volumes and values, making it particularly difficult for newcomers to break through, prove their worth, and generate paydays.

Recent advances in technology, such as artificial intelligence (AI), are automating many entry-level tasks and causing organizations to reconsider how they structure teams and assign responsibilities. This requires dealmakers in the early stages of their careers to think carefully about their futures and the skills and experiences they’ll need to be successful.

To help get your wheels turning, we recently sat down with three industry veterans who successfully broke into private equity and have found fresh ways to stand out and get ahead ever since. Here’s what they had to say about their journeys and some of the advice they gave to help others follow in their footsteps.

Forge Your Own Path

All three of our panelists took different routes to their careers in private equity, proving that one size doesn’t have to fit all and passion is a key ingredient in this highly competitive field. For instance, Kristin Tassini, Director of Business Development at ZMC, did not come from a finance background but instead found her interest in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in a consulting job. She then successfully completed business school and joined Bank of America’s investment banking division until landing at ZMC.

The second of our panelists, Maddy Dwyer, completed her university degree in Humanities before switching to a career in market research. She was then recruited by THL and is now a Business Development Manager at the mid-market, buyout-focused firm within a FinTech- and Financial Services-focused team.

Rounding out our panel was Margaux Valle, who also broke into private equity via consulting. In the years since, she's explored different parts of the dealmaking world, including working at a FinTech platform that served the private equity market, until she found her way back to the deal origination side and to her current role as Head of Business Development at Rotunda Capital.

Find Your Niche

While each of our panelists followed different paths, the common thread among them was their drive to find and display their individual strengths. In the session, Dwyer recalled a position prior to joining THL where she had the opportunity to learn about many different industries by speaking with various founders and executives. Not only did she enjoy this process, but she also excelled at it. This intellectual curiosity ultimately led her to make market research her career.

Similarly, Tassini knew she wanted to be involved in the dealmaking process, but she wasn't quite sure where. A talk she attended shared a sentiment that stuck with her, however: Cutting through the noise meant doing what other people don't really want to do. She then recognized that deal sourcing was an underserved part of the deal process and used it as the launch point for her career, successfully transitioning from the investment side of the house to deal sourcing.

Figure out Technology

All three of our panelists referenced how important networking was and is to their careers. But they also emphasized the importance of technology and how it can help differentiate people within legacy-steeped industries such as private equity.

Valle, for instance, worked in the technology sector before she joined private equity, and was able to translate what she learned there and help the firm apply it to day-to-day tasks. She stressed, however, that picking up skills in tech is something anyone could — and should — do to set themselves apart in M&A. Dwyer agreed, adding that the concern over AI is valid, but "your job will never be replaced fully by AI. You'll be replaced by someone who knows how to use it."

For many, this could be using an AI-powered deal sourcing platform such as Sourcescrub to craft personalized outreach at scale and build rapport with target investment opportunities long before they're ready to be banked. Another example the panelists shared is using technology to identify hyper-relevant add-on acquisitions and bringing them to a platform deal negotiation to help secure the transaction.

Tassini echoed the other panelists' sentiment, positing that sourcing is what ties everybody in a deal together. The advancements and evolutions that technology is currently undergoing will mean many mundane and time-consuming tasks, such as pulling lists or processing large amounts of data, can be performed much more quickly. The increased sophistication of available technology and reliance on data and analytics to make decisions will continue to open doors at organizations for those who learn how to use them.

Jumpstart Your Career in PE

If you're looking to jumpstart or further your career in private equity, investment banking, or corporate development, there are plenty of ways to set yourself up for paydays and promotions. The key is to learn what will catch the eye of partners and founders alike and find ways to differentiate yourself from your peers.

To hear more about how our panelists successfully navigated the financial industry and their tips to help you do the same, check out our on-demand webinar, The Next Generation of Dealmaking: Unlock New Skills to Accelerate Your Career.