Jun 8, 2008

BW: MBAs flocking to private equity (2007)

Every decade, another faddish career opportunity dazzles the nation's business schools. In the 1980s, MBAs dreamed of Wall Street fortunes, swaggering their way into penthouses and private planes. During the dot-com bubble, it was about vesting swiftly and starting a foundation by age 30.

Today job lust among B-schoolers is fiercest for the gilded, clubby preserve of private equity. "Absolutely, it's become the hot job for MBAs," says Maury Hanigan, president of New York's MBA Scouting Report.

From the Wharton School to the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business, it sometimes seems as if private equity is all anyone is talking and thinking about. MBA programs have always had private equity clubs. But B-schools at New York University, Dartmouth, and Columbia all report record memberships in these networking fests. At Wharton, nearly half the student body is a member of the private equity club. Conferences starring such legends as Blackstone Group chief Stephen A. Schwarzman sell out months in advance. And the schools have been falling all over themselves to add classes teaching everything from innovative dealmaking to the art of wielding "influence" within a firm.

Some see this as a leading indicator of yet another bubble. We know where the earlier stampedes to Wall Street and Silicon Valley ended. In five years, when these junior barons want to start their own funds, will the wash of money still be in private equity? Then again, what better school for a lesson in risk?

~ BW, "What B-Schoolers Lust For Now ," January 22, 2007, by Michelle Conlin

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