What are the backgrounds of junior VCs in Europe?

Following @vonperger’s post on Pre-VC career tips and @robmoff’s post on How to get into tech VC in Europe, I wanted to take a look at the backgrounds of junior employees at European venture capital funds to see if there are any common trends.

To do so, I looked at the LinkedIn profiles of 175 members of a ‘Young VC’ group, all of whom currently work in junior roles at 103 different VC funds in 15 different European cities. Using this sample, I found the following:

1. ‘Associate’ is by far the most common junior role

Associates make up almost 35% of the group, with a lot of the others around the same seniority level with more creative titles. Many funds appear to use Associate as their most junior role rather than Analyst.

The title Investment Manager seems to be gaining in popularity for new hires around the same seniority level as Associate but means different things depending on the fund, some being back office roles rather than investing roles.

The Silicon Valley trend of giving all employees a Partner title hasn’t reached Europe yet, with those listed as Partner usually being the young founders of their own funds. Although quite a few LinkedIn profiles listed “Early Stage Investor” or “Venture Capitalist” rather than their real title to obscure their real rank.

Current title (out of 175):
Analyst: 19
Associate: 61
Investment Manager: 30
Principal: 16
Vice President: 6
Partner: 10
Other: 33

2. Junior VCs are predominantly male

Of the 175 people in the group, 133 are male (76%) and 42 female (24%). Looking at just Associates (61); 48 are male (79%) and 13 female (21%).

While still predominantly male, the ratio appears to be better at junior level than at Partner level at the same funds (in the US; Fortune reported that only 4.2% of Partner-level VCs at $200m+ funds were female).

3. Most junior VC roles are in London and Berlin

Of the 175 people in the group, 97 are based in London, 51 in Berlin and the other 27 in other European cities, confirming the two cities as the main financing hubs in Europe.

4. Associate is typically a 2 year role

The average Associate (sample of 61) in the group has already spent 15 months in their role (Q1=7, Q2=13, Q3=20) with the most senior Associate having spent 43 months in their role.

Number of months the Associate has spent in their role

Larger funds often have a formal 2-year Associate programme before being asked to move on to a portfolio company or to found their own startup. Even when this isn't a formal rule, 2 years seems to be the normal length expected to stay in the role before moving on.

5. Associates have a variety of university degrees but tend to not have MBA degrees

All 61 Associates in the sample have at least a university bachelor’s degree. For 48% that’s their highest degree, 39% have a non-MBA master’s degree, with only 5% with a PhD and 8% with an MBA.

There was no overall pattern in the universities attended, although a third of the London-based Associates attended Oxford or Cambridge.

Highest Degree (out of 61):
Bachelor’s: 29
Master’s (excluding MBA): 24
PhD: 3
MBA: 5

6. Associates come largely from business and humanities backgrounds with very few engineers

Despite investing predominantly in software businesses, only 5 of the 61 Associates hold a degree in computer science. The majority studied business/economics or other humanities with very few engineers (13%):

University major (out of 61):
Business/Finance: 22
Other Humanities (History, English etc.): 12
Economics: 11
Computer Science/Engineering: 8
Other Sciences (Physics, Chemistry etc.): 5
Law: 3

7. The average Associate is 27 years old with 3 years of work experience prior to joining a VC fund

The average Associate has 36 months of post-university work experience prior starting their role (Q1=24, Q2=34, Q3=45). There are a few exceptions where people have joined straight out of university, often these are PhD graduates or Analysts with Associate titles.

Months work experience prior to current role

The average Associate in the sample is 27 years old (Q1=25, Q2=27, Q3=29) with the youngest 23 and oldest 32 (ages estimated from their high school graduation year).

Associate ages

8. Associates come from a variety of backgrounds with consulting and banking still popular choices

More than half (32 of the 61) the Associates fit the ex-banker/ex-consultant stereotype.

Only 9 of the 61 had previously been startup founders themselves (often founders join VC in a more senior role than Associate) and only 9 others had previously worked in a non-founder operating role at a startup.

Previously worked in (full time roles, not including internships):
Banking: 22 (5 Goldman Sachs)
Consulting: 21 (7 McKinsey, 6 Bain, 3 Monitor)
Startups: 18 (9 as employees, 9 as founders)

9. Internships can help towards a full-time role but aren't required

13 of the 61 Associates had worked in venture capital before landing their current role; 6 in full-time roles at different funds and 4 as interns.