Source Talks ep. 26

Source Talks is a series where we discuss deal origination with PE and M&A pros.
In this interview, Belle Verhulst speaks with Milana Khodorkovskaya, Principal, Global Private Markets Practice at Korn Ferry, on her top pieces of advice for folks looking to break into an origination role in private equity.

So Milana, tell us about your role at Korn Ferry.

I’m a Principal in Private Markets Practice at Korn ferry that is led by Joe Healey. And if I were to summarize what we do in a sentence or two, we generally work with leaders of long duration, investment firms – private equity, credit infrastructure – to help them build their firms. It is pretty much a very global team. We have done a lot of work with emerging managers, as well as with large cap funds – people call them mega funds – mid-market firms, long, mid-market firms, family offices, across different sectors and regions. With intensive competition, there’s a lot more new firms have been formed and we just been busy across the board. BD especially has come to the spotlight, as there are more participants on the market and everybody’s trying to snag that deal.

Milana, tell us your top 3 pieces of advice for folks who would like to break into private equity through an origination role.

Of course, the demand is high for the role, but consistent, which is great. So if somebody is attempting to get themselves into business development seat, our practical advice is if you really want to get the job, you have to start acquainting yourself with people who already do the job. You do the outreach, it’s a step one. Prove to the people that you understand the job, or at least you make an effort to understand what it takes to succeed in the role. And then you need to ask for referrals, you have to be a part of the community. And help them also, it works in reverse in case they need anything from you. So, being able to network that’s advice number two. Three – if you decided that business development is a career of your choice, I wouldn’t worry about an entry point. The entry point in private markets, I believe in any fund could be irrelevant if you are building yourself into something that you want to be at 10, 15 years from now. So find your way – smaller firm, independent sponsor, maybe even bigger firm – but don’t worry too much about the entry point. Get yourself into a place where somebody gives you a chance in role, and then you are part of our dynamic community in private markets.

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