Is it possible to get M&A experience outside of banking, and then get a banking job?

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Is it ever possible to leave investment banking in order to get the deal experience needed to take a step up into an M&A role? Most go into the sector with one eye on the exit opportunities available and taking an in-house business development role in a large corporate is an increasingly popular route for senior investment bankers.

Robert Sanders has just taken the opposite track. He has a background in equity research, covering the technology sector at both Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank. However, for the past four years Sanders has been working in the United Arab Emirates for Mubadala Development Company.

Mubadala is an investment and development company – sort of a quasi-sovereign wealth fund – that invests in a wide-range of sectors and Sanders’ role was to focus on M&A opportunities in the semi-conductor sector.

Now, he’s just secured a new role back at Deutsche Bank in London, as a director in equity research. Sanders did, however, complete an MBA at INSEAD before joining Mubadala, suggesting more than a simple switch into the corporate sector is necessary to advance your career.

Nonetheless, Sanders’ move is interesting because it goes against the current grain. More investment bankers have been switching into corporate development roles and banks have started to be affected by retention problems at the top of the tree in M&A. Right now, for example, Tesco is building out a small corporate finance team and has poached from Credit Suisse as it does so.

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