July 26, 2021 – Executive search firm Hobbs & Towne has recruited Ryan Green as the chief financial officer for private equity-backed May Mobility, a leader in autonomous vehicle (AV) technology and shuttle operations. Partner Chris Clements led the assignment. “With experience at the intersection of automotive, technology and growth-stage companies, Ryan is an exceptional CFO for May Mobility,” said company CEO Edwin Olson. “Adding his knowledge and experience to our team will help us continue to accelerate our business and execute May Mobility’s vision.”
Mr. Green brings over 20 years of experience leading financial functions and will focus on positioning May Mobility for growth. He joins the company from American electric vehicle maker and automotive technology company Rivian, where he led their finance, accounting, and corporate governance functions, growing a department of five to a staff of more than one hundred. Prior to that, Mr. Green served as CFO at Harley Davidson Financial Services, with previous experience at Ford/Visteon.
“I am beyond excited to join May Mobility and help the company continue to accelerate growth,” said Mr. Green. “What drew me to the company is how we directly impact the communities we serve. The clarity of May Mobility’s mission to provide a safer, greener, more accessible world through autonomous mobility is something I look forward to supporting in my role as CFO.”
May Mobility is a leader in autonomous vehicle technology development and deployment. With more than 275,000 autonomous rides to date, May Mobility is committed to delivering safe, efficient, and sustainable shuttle solutions designed to complement today’s public transportation options.
Founded in 1997, Hobbs & Towne is an executive search and advisory services firm. Partnering with venture capital, private equity, and family office investors, as well as large, global companies, the firm has recruited across some of the most impactful technology categories, including but not limited to aerospace, agriculture, AI, bio and medical, data science, energy, food, IOT, mobility, robotics, and sustainability. The firm has performed over 2,500 executive searches over the last 20-plus years. It maintains offices in San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles, Toronto and London.
Executive search firm Hobbs & Towne has assisted in the placement of Vanderbilt University biochemistry department chair John D. York as chief science officer at Impossible Foods. CEO Andy Towne led the assignment along with partner Ryan Houder for the search firm.
Dr. York, whose first day at Impossible Foods will be Jan. 4, will serve on the senior leadership team and oversee research and development, and product innovation. He will report directly to CEO and founder Patrick O. Brown. Under Dr. York’s leadership, Impossible Foods will continue to build its food technology platform and expand basic research capabilities to accelerate next-generation products. “Throughout his career, John has contributed to discoveries in biochemistry thanks to his curiosity and risk tolerance,” said Dr. Brown, a Stanford University professor emeritus.
Hobbs & Towne has completed searches for the specific roles of chairman, executive chairman, audit chair, CEO, COO, CFO, CTO, CSO, CCO, CMO, chief architect, chief engineer, general counsel and mandates at the EVP, SVP and VP level in technology, engineering, research and development, process development, software development, intellectual property, operations, manufacturing, supply chain, logistics, quality, human resources, finance, accounting, project finance, project development, asset management, development, business development, sales, customer success, marketing, product management, digital and regulatory.
Mr. Clements joined Hobbs & Towne in 2015 and is a partner based out of the firm’s San Francisco office. He has performed searches across a wide range of technology verticals including artificial intelligence, robotics, energy, automotive and mobility, aerospace technology, smart cities and buildings, internet of things, and agricultural and food technology with both large public and private companies as well as growth stage companies.
Recruiting CFOs for PE Companies
Executive search firm Caldwell recently conducted a survey on the CFO role to fine-tune its understanding of the skills and experiences that define success today for a CFO of a PE-backed portfolio company and, equally importantly, which attributes may sound appealing but are not essential. More than 300 private equity CFOs shared candid responses on their backgrounds and how they landed in their current role. The results provided a clearer picture of who sits in the CFO chair at many PE-backed portfolio companies, and the skills and credentials that are truly impactful in their leadership role.
When asked to describe their previous experience, 10 percent of the participants said, “I was a divisional CFO or No. 2 finance executive in a PE-backed company,” while 20 percent had the same status at a public company. Another 35 percent had been a CFO of a public or private company. And only 34 percent had been CFO of a PE-backed company. So just a third of the CFOs in the Caldwell survey had previously held a PE CFO role.
Among companies with less than $25 million in revenue, only 15 percent of the CFOs had prior experience as CFO of a PE-backed company, while 56 percent of the companies with greater than $500 million revenue hired a CFO with prior experience in a PE CFO role. In the three other revenue categories, the companies hired a CFO with prior PE CFO experience 40 percent of the time, or less. These findings would seem to indicate that hiring a CFO with prior PE CFO experience is a “nice to have,” but not a must-have credential for all companies, said the firm.
Caldwell also asked the CFOs: “What were the key factors in your hiring?” and asked them to check all relevant factors. Among the total population of participants, the No. 1 factor was industry experience, and the second factor was PE experience. Tied for third were a previous successful exit and a prior role as a stand-alone PE CFO.
Looking at the responses by company revenue size, private equity experience was the first or second response in all revenue categories. Likewise, industry experience was first or second in the four lower revenue categories. Among companies with greater than $500 million revenue, however, private equity experience was the top response, selected by 64 percent of the respondents, while a previous successful exit and experience as a stand-alone PE CFO were each chosen by 48 percent of respondents. Only in this largest revenue category did industry experience drop to the fourth answer, tied with public reporting experience. These responses would seem to reflect that among the largest companies, investors are more likely to be anticipating and hiring for an exit via a public offering.
By comparison, among companies with less than $25 million in revenue, public reporting experience was cited as a hiring factor only eight percent of the time, while a previous successful exit was cited by 17 percent of respondents. Across all revenue categories, the CFO had Big Four experience a quarter of the time, or less.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media