MBA Jobs: Corporate Development Associate
Strategy and leadership development are at the core of almost every MBA program. In fact, they’re two of the skills most often mentioned when candidates discuss why they want to go back to school. But when it comes to narrowing down a career path that best takes advantage of those skills, how do you make a decision? If you enjoy mergers and acquisitions (M&A) as well as planning and executing strategies to meet organizational objectives, then you might want to consider a role as a corporate development associate.
With 10-year job growth—through 2022—expected at 41.2 percent, a career as a Corporate Development Associate is an excellent choice for MBA graduates.
What Does a Corporate Development Associate Do?
According to Oracle, a Corporate Development Associate plays an active role in all acquisitions around pre-deal diligence. This means that the Associate is responsible for identifying potential business and operational issues with an acquisition. They’re also responsible for contributing to the creation of business plans and performance reports. Finally, they “participate in the company’s strategic development planning process, which includes acquisitions, joint ventures, investments and other activities.”
The exact role of a Corporate Development Associate will vary slightly between companies. However, in most cases, there are four primary responsibilities:
- M&A: One of the core responsibilities of an Associate is to drive and manage the acquisition function of your company.
- Financing: Corporate Development Associates must also provide funding for all of the various acquisitions, development projects, and corporate initiatives.
- Forecasting: A Corp Dev. Associate traditionally does the role of forecasting, especially if the company has a fledgling FP&A function.
- Ad Hoc Reports: Management, the board, and investors typically require a fair amount of ad hoc reports about long-term forecasted financials, and the Corp Dev team is generally responsible for completing these.
Corporate Development Associate Salary and Work Life
According to Mergers and Inquisitions, the average workweek for a Corp Dev Associate is 40-50 hours per week. However, when a deal is in progress, you may be expected to work as much as 60-70 hours a week. “I’ve stayed past midnight before when we’ve been working on live M&A deals and have been under pressure to get them announced and closed quickly, but I haven’t yet pulled a true all-nighter,” an interviewee told Brian DeChasare, the Founder of Mergers & Inquisitions.
As for what you can expect to earn. The base salary typically starts between $90-$110k, with a large company such as Oracle offering between $97 – $104K. Associates can also expect an annual bonus, but it’s typically smaller than banking
Top Skills for a Corporate Development Associate
Based on a recent survey from KPMG, when asked how daily activities have changed over the past five years for corporate development teams, “the single biggest response is that they have become more strategic, with potential involvement in a wide range of activities, including operational efficiency, business transformation, cost reduction and technology advancements.” In fact, corporate development teams are now more likely to be involved in virtually any type of strategic initiative.
So, for skills, a Corporate Development Associate should be prepared to handle:
- Portfolio management
- Product development and penetration
- Client experience
- Communicating strategy to stakeholders
- Identifying and initiating new potential acquisitions
- Dealing with regulators
As for the personality of someone who would thrive in a corporate development role, CFI recommends the following character traits:
- Highly ambitious
- Confidence inspiring
- Attention to detail
- Good communicator
Corporate Development Associate and the MBA
Without an MBA, there is very little chance that you’ll be hired as a Corporate Development Associate straight out of undergrad. Companies tend to run lean development teams—two-to-four people—and so won’t waste their time hiring someone without experience.
Typically, people enter the corporate development field from investment banking or management consulting. However, according to Wall Street Oasis, some larger companies require an MBA, but it still comes down to experience, so during your MBA you’ll need to demonstrate that you gained the necessary M&A skills.
Best MBA Programs for a Corporate Development Associate
- Harvard Business School: At Harvard, students can take a seven-week course titled Mergers, Acquisitions, and Restructurings. There’s also the fact that 7 percent of MBA grads go into a career in Business Development.
- Columbia Business School: The Master Class in Mergers & Acquisitions at Columbia is perfect for MBA students interested in a Corp Dev career. In addition, 2.6 percent percent of the School’s 2016 MBA graduates went into Corp Dev. With 13.4 percent more going into M&A.
- Stanford Graduate School of Business: At Stanford, their Executive Education arm offers an entire program on Mergers and Acquisitions. And for MBAs, 9 percent went into Business Development.