While thousands of private equity firms are headquartered in the United States, firms are located throughout the world. According to a 2019 ranking conducted by Audax, HarbourVest, and Genstar, many industry leaders are located in Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Opportunities for business development directors are available in nearly every industry. You may have to relocate to New York or another financial center to locate a position.
It’s a challenge to land a job as a business development director at a private equity firm for two reasons: 1) Not all PE firms have BDDs on staff, and 2) most PE firms are small and may employ just one full-or part-time business development professional. Although PE firms of all sizes hire BDDs, your best bet of landing a job is with a large firm. Private Equity International publishes an annual list of the 300 biggest private equity firms at its Web site, https://www.privateequityinternational.com/pei-300/. Use this list to identify potential employers.
Another job-search strategy is to work in business development at a company outside of the PE sector, gradually building your skills and experience until you’re ready to pursue an entry-level business development job in private equity. Business development jobs are available in many other industries. Check out job postings for BDDs on general job-search sites to get an idea of what’s available.
To locate employment leads, check out job listings at employment sites, use the resources of your college’s career services office, talk with recruiters about job-search strategies, attend career fairs, and participate in internships and co-ops to obtain experience and get noticed by hiring managers.
Business development (BD) professionals at a large PE firm with a dedicated business development department can advance from BD associate, to BD manager, to BD director. Advancement can also come in the form of pay raises and bonuses. Experienced and highly skilled business development directors may launch their own funds or be promoted to junior partner or general partner. There are also many opportunities in business development and sales at companies outside the PE industry.
For job listings, visit
Use social media sites to network and learn more about the industry. One useful resource is SumZero (https://sumzero.com).
Visit the Wall Street Oasis to learn about different career pathways in the field of private equity: https://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/how-do-i-get-into-private-equity.