William E. Conway Jr. began his career with the First National Bank of Chicago, where he held various positions in the areas of corporate finance, commercial lending, workout loans, and general management. After earning his MBA, Conway held several posts at First National, starting as a First Scholar trainee, then becoming a loan officer, vice president of bank operations, and finally a loan group head.
In 1981, Conway joined MCI Communications Corporation as a vice president and treasurer — the youngest member of a major management team. He arranged several billion dollars of debt and equity financing, both in the public and private financial markets, and was credited with negotiating some of MCI's most significant acquisitions and divestitures.
In 1987, Conway set up a pioneering investment firm with four partners and named it after the Carlyle Hotel in New York. The Carlyle Group specialized in creating, structuring, and closing private financial transactions, leveraged buyouts, and real estate transactions between $75 and $500 million for its managing directors, limited partners, clients, and investors. Under Conway's leadership, Carlyle became one of the nation's largest defense contractors, a major arms exporter to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, one of the biggest foreign investors in South Korea and Taiwan, and a key player in global telecommunications, wireless, real estate, and health care markets.
By 2007, the Carlyle Group was one of the world's largest private equity firms, combining global vision and local insight with its more than $54.5 billion under management, 48 funds across four investment disciplines, and top-flight team of more than 400 investment professionals in 16 countries across North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.