The Evolving Role of HR in Private Equity
March 23, 2022 – Securing the right leadership for portfolio companies is a complex process. In the most successful circumstances, it often fuses the needs of a “commercial” operating partner and a human capital professional. Getting that collaboration to work effectively can make all the difference between a company that grows and outperforms vs. one that falls short and fails. And it all happens within the domain of HR and talent management.
JM Search and Hunt Scanlon Media have teamed up for a highly anticipated webinar tomorrow. Search consultants and former HR leaders Louis Montgomery and Phil Menzel, along with a panel of PE talent management experts – including Helen Hua with Insight Partners, CHRO Lyndsay Lord, chief talent officer Michelle Nasir or Arsenal Capital Partners, and VP of HR Adrienne Wheeler – will share their unique insights on how the role of HR continues to evolve within private equity. This a great opportunity to hear first-hand experiences and perspectives from key leaders across the sector.
“The biggest differences in competencies for head of HR in PE vs corporate America are in the skills of building HR systems and processes to sustain high growth rates,” said Mr. Montgomery. “PE is almost always about growth and in many cases very rapid growth, which is frequently via acquisition. Due to the generally smaller size of portfolio companies within PE backed firms these acquisitions can be transformative.”
As a result, he said, the HR leader must be a builder and an integrator. “Fewer portfolio companies have well developed HR systems and processes,” he said. “HR leaders in PE to quickly assess talent, work to transition and integrate newly acquired firms to not only realize cost synergies but to help to harmonize benefits and create a one company culture.”
A significant part of the job calls for placing first-ever chief people officers in portfolio companies of PE backed organizations, according to Mr. Menzel. “And while talent acquisition is almost always an important topic to discuss, these C-suite leaders are realizing that in order to achieve their growth ambitions they must have systems and processes to sustain high growth,” he said. “This means they must be able to attract, develop, and retain key staff.” It also means creating a compelling value proposition for people to join their organizations in the face of stiff competition.
“Today’s employees want to feel they are developing their skills as a result of working inside an organization and those HR leaders who are able to help them to feel a stronger connection to their organizations are increasingly valued,” Mr. Menzel said.
“As the old saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. Our firm’s experience is that only five years ago HR was a very small percent of the search work we conducted,” said Mr. Montgomery. “Since that time, the requests to partner with PE firms to hire heads of HR has at least quadrupled. We have placed HR leaders in all sectors: technology, consumer centric, industrial, healthcare/life sciences and services. Our portfolio firms have grown. Many reach an inflection point where they realize that to achieve their growth ambitions, they need an experienced, skilled HR leader.”
To meet that demand, JM Search has hired a number of former HR leaders and a year ago established an HR and diversity officers practice, which is led by Mr. Montgomery.
Mr. Menzel said that many of the search firm’s placements into head of HR roles in PE backed companies are coming from larger corporate type positions. “Many are attracted to the opportunity to be the TOP human resource leader for the company, reporting directly to the CEO,” he said.
The webinar outlines the accelerating need for key HR leadership in private equity, the differences and the competencies required for heads of HR in PE vs. corporate America, and the career value proposition when moving from a corporate role to one in private equity. Free registration … Click here to sign up!
Louis Montgomery, a partner with JM Search, specializes in the placement of senior HR and DE&I leaders and their teams. He helps organizations add diversity to their ranks: 75 percent of his placements have been women and 50 percent have been people of color. As a former HR and DE&I practitioner, Mr. Montgomery understands what it takes to be successful in this demanding field. His deep experience as an executive search consultant has honed his skills as a top assessor of talent. His background includes recruiting experience across numerous sectors, including private equity-backed companies and publicly traded firms across consumer goods, financial services, industrial, government contracting, higher education, trade associations, and non-profits.
Phil Menzel brings 30 years of human capital leadership and recruiting experience to his role as partner at JM Search. His background includes a broad set of industries, including consumer goods, technology, distribution, services, and retail. He has influenced big-picture business priorities, defined innovative HR strategies, and applied people and organizational best practices to drive results for clients across the private equity sector. Mr. Menzel is a key business partner and trusted adviser to the board, C-suite, and senior leaders at the holding company, corporate, division, and business unit level. His strategic insights and HR expertise have culminated in business transformation, steady growth, and value creation.
Helen Hua joined Insight Partners in 2017 to lead executive networking, best practices and other executive talent initiatives across the Insight portfolio. Prior to this, she was a principal at True Search. At True, she led and drove executive searches across scaling venture and private equity-backed technology companies. Ms. Hua started her career at the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission’s office of Enforcement in their Office of Market Intelligence in Washington, D.C.
Lyndsay Lord is the chief human resources officer at DECA Dental Group. She has vast leadership experience with global brands including Hilti, Pepsi, Arrow Electronics, CoreLogic and Sabre. Before joining DECA Dental Group, Ms. Lord served as CHRO for Jiffy Lube. Given her passion for building high-performing, values-based cultures, she was drawn to DECA Dental Group. She considers herself a modern HR practitioner with a focus on enabling team members to thrive and do their best work.
Michelle Nasir is the chief talent officer of Arsenal Capital Partners. Prior to joining Arsenal in 2020, she was the chief talent officer at United States Steel Corp. Previously, Ms. Nasir was a partner at Heidrick & Struggles. She also has worked at Google, Warner Media, Pfizer, McKinsey & Company, Ernst & Young, and Accenture.
Adrienne Wheeler, VP of HR at Elliot Aviation, is a strategic human resource leader with over 19 years of experience in both the manufacturing and professional services industries. She has progressive HR experience in talent management and acquisition, training and development, diversity and inclusion, employee relations and engagement. Her passions as an HR leader are talent acquisition, talent management and succession planning. Ms. Wheeler is also a certified leadership development coach. Additionally, she is passionate about innovation in talent acquisition, creating inclusive cultures, and HR technology.
Attendance is free. To learn more and register to attend, click here!
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media