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How to get a private equity job at a big fund coming to London & NY

Temasek, the enormous Singaporean sovereign wealth fund with $215bn under management, is coming to London and to New York. In May, Temasek registered a new London office (called ‘Temasek International Europe’). In 2012 it hired John Cryan, former CFO of UBS to run its European business, along with Boon Sim, former head of M&A for Credit Suisse in North America, to run its North American business.

Temasek’s London and New York offices aren’t fully functioning yet – the company’s website shows that they’re ‘upcoming’ rather than in place. A spokesman for the fund told us there are no current hiring plans and no “timelines” for opening the new offices, but that they’re likely to start quite small. However, Boon Sim told the Wall Street Journal last month that Temasek will be looking to hire 20 people for each new office and Temasek said today that the proportion of its fund allocated to Europe and North America has increased from 8% to 12% in the past two years.

Assuming, therefore, that Temasek will be hiring in London and New York soon, how can you get a job there? This is what you need to know.

1. Temasek likes to hire people with MBAs

Temasek employs around 450 people globally, based in Singapore, Beijing, Mumbai, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Mexico City, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Sao Paolo. Around 333 current and previous Temasek employees have a profile online, and 285 of them have an MBA, suggesting that more than 80% of the people Temasek employs have a business qualification.

Further scrutiny suggests Temasek especially likes to employ people from big name business schools. Think INSEAD (19 alumni), Wharton (28 alumni), Harvard (30 alumni), and the Indian Institute of Management (18 alumni).

2. Temasek likes to hire ex-M&A bankers

It’s not just Boon Sim, Temasek employs a whole host of people who once worked in M&A at a major investment bank. If you’re analyst or associate (preferably with an MBA) and you feel like working for a major sovereign wealth fund, you may be popular.

3. Temasek will want to hire linguists with a global outlook

In Europe, Temasek’s strategy will be to invest in companies which derive much of their income outside the continent. So far, for example, it’s invested in Repsol, a Spanish oil-and-gas company with operations in the US, Turkey, Japan, India and 26 other countries and in Evonik Industries, a German chemicals group. If you’re applying to work there, we suspect that multilingualism will help.

4. Temasek likes to hire specific sector specialists

Temasek doesn’t just hire any old person: if you specialise in supermarkets or sectors highly reliant on macroeconomic growth, it won’t be interested in you. Instead, Sim told the WSJ Temasek’s investments are focused on high growth sectors exposed to the expanding middle classes. On its own website, Temasek says it specialises in eight industry sectors: consumer & real estate, energy, financial institutions, industrials, life sciencies, resources, TMT, transportation and logistics.

If you’re an M&A banker and you have an MBA and you’ve worked in one of these sectors, we’d suggest you’re in with a chance.

5. Temasek likes to hire ex-strategy consultants

If you haven’t worked in M&A and you don’t have an MBA and you don’t have experience in one of Temasek’s key sectors, you may still be able to redeem yourself if you you’ve worked for a major strategy consulting firm. 12% of Temasek’s global employees with online profiles have worked for McKinsey & Co at some point in their careers. Another 5% have worked for Bain.

An MBA, a spell in consulting, and a period in M&A as a sector specialist look like the ideal combination.

6. Temasek likes to hire people who care about things

If you want a job at Temasek, you will need to commit its company values (meritocracy, excellence, respect, integrity, teamwork and trust) to heart. The fund says it positively wants people whose ‘beliefs are aligned’ to these.

Based upon the testimonials on Temasek’s own careers site, you will also need to be prepared to talk enthusiastically about the ‘Temasek family’ and to participate in after work social events.

Unfortunately, this may bring downsides. According to various employee reviews, Temasek can be a very political place to work.

7. Temasek likes to hire people who look good in blue

We deduce this from the photograph of Temasek employees on the company’s own website.

Related articles:

Ten reasons there are no alternatives to banking careers 

Where the Goldman Sachs bankers really go next 

How to get a job in a sovereign wealth fund

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