Private equity is often touted as an exclusive club meant only for veteran bankers, financial consultants, or ivy league graduates.
According to Australian business mogul, Darren Herft, this isn’t necessarily the case.
“The private equity arena offers competent graduates, accountants, and even engineers an opportunity to follow a thrilling path to a meaningful career,” says Darren Herft.
While the long-time investor acknowledges that entering the private equity business straight from school is bound to be challenging for most, there are exceptions.
“Graduates who already have some experience in financial modeling at reputed investment banks with a proven track record of success make for great candidates,” says Darren Herft.
He thinks that while there are times where an exceptionally bright graduate might break through the market by being recruited, such instances are few and far in between.
Darren Herft contends that “Private equity firms aren’t looking to train graduates, they’d much rather prefer candidates who have a few years of consulting or banking experience under their belt.”
The AFL aficionado believes that business graduates are desirable candidates but should gain some experience in finance to add a competitive edge.
Darren Herft says that “Age plays a factor in recruiting as top private equity players are looking for younger people to work for them and most graduates fit that criterion.”
Herft also recommends ambitious individuals looking to foray into private equity to obtain an MBA from a renowned institution.
“Those looking at senior roles within top firms should know that most consider an MBA as a prerequisite for consideration,” he says.
While getting in as an undergraduate is an uphill task, the Australian entrepreneur thinks that some bright minds have what it takes to make it.
“Undergraduates thinking of getting into private equity must be self-motivated to learn financial modeling themselves,” he says.
The Australian entrepreneur is of the opinion that such individuals are rare and usually have internship experience with private equity firms in areas such as consulting, restructuring or strategy. He also thinks that undergrads might find smaller firms more accepting in this regard.
“It is a highly competitive market, my advice to undergrads would be to obtain knowledge of finance and investing as it will help them gain an edge over their peers,” says Herft.
He thinks that building relationships with people in the field could also boost them into the world of private equity.
“You should reach out to any alumni that might be working at a PE firm as they would be able to guide you through the maze,” says Herft.
Resilience is a key factor, and the veteran investor believes that those without tough skin will find it hard to survive in the private equity arena.
While getting into private equity brings a slew of advantages such as gaining valuable experience early on, it can be an exhausting process for many.
“Aspirants must be prepared to fail. Even after rigorous preparation, they might not land their desired position or firm,” says Darren Herft.
“Keeping your spirits high is crucial.”