February 16, 2021 – What is one of the top concerns keeping PE investors and executives up at night? Talent. Great executive talent is one of the most important factors driving company performance, and during an unprecedented era of uncertainty there is even more pressure and competition on PE firms and executives to staff their management teams with top-tier leaders.
In an upcoming webcast on Thursday, Feb 18, you’ll hear from Todd Markson, operating partner at Bain Capital; Ishan Manaktala, operating partner at Symphony AI; and Susan Clark, general partner at TCV as they discuss talent demand with The Bowdoin Group’s Jim Urquhart. They will discuss what PE firms are doing to attract and hire top executives in an uncertain market and how C-level candidates are making moves in their careers during a pandemic.
According to this line-up of presenters, what’s most at risk? The success of their portfolio companies. To attract and hire the best talent, investors know they must execute on a coordinated, strategic approach around that talent. Without the right strategy, it is possible to tap networks when a new CXO is needed, but that is not enough in an increasingly tight talent market. In this webinar, you’ll hear from top operating and investing partners as they discuss two sides of the issue: What PE firms are doing to attract and hire top executives in an uncertain market . . . and how C-level candidates are making moves in their careers during a pandemic.
“As the presenters and I prepared for this exchange, our thought was to break out a few key themes,” said Mr. Urquhart. “To that end, we plan to open with a general discussion around talent, i.e., how do you build and nurture your personal talent network, how do you evaluate talent – spanning objective skills and experience vs. abilities and high upside?”
Jim Urquhart has 13 years of team building and executive search experience, collaborating with founders, executive teams, and investors to set and execute against critical hiring plans, ranging from VP roles to their C-level teams. As the managing director, FinTech at The Bowdoin Group, he specializes in working with VC-backed SaaS and data analytics companies with a special emphasis on RegTech, InsurTech and AI/ML. He is responsible for developing and managing client relationships and executive searches in Boston, New York City, San Francisco, and elsewhere in the U.S.
“We then plan to open a discussion on pre-deal diligence,” Mr. Urquhart said. “Assuming we are all making a bet on a team as well as a company, how do investors traverse the talent landscape of a company, possibly having to think about and articulate difficult decisions/changes, while still selling the deal?”
“Finally, we will take a deep dive into a more granular view of recruitment,” Mr. Urquhart said. “How involved and hands-on are PE investors with the recruitment process? Is there a methodology by which they determine whether to groom people and promote from within, leverage networks, or engage a search firm? What does the decision criteria look like? And when one does turn to external talent searches, how do organizations and our talent partners ensure the right selection of a search firm and set up the right process?”
In addition, The Bowdoin Group will explore with viewers how top PE partners are leveraging their platforms to attract top executive talent, key strategies to keep C-level executives engaged even if there isn’t an immediate opportunity, and best practices to engaging and getting the most out of leadership teams.
Talent Management as a Crucial Lever
According to the latest upcoming Hunt Scanlon Media ‘2021 Global Private Equity Talent Leadership Report,’ institutional investors increasingly see portfolio company talent management as a crucial lever for value creation, risk mitigation and growth. And virtually every PE firm and their portfolio companies – along with many traditional companies – have detailed playbooks at the ready for how to respond when the booming economy they enjoyed in recent years finally reversed course last year. Everyone knew it would come; it was just a matter of when. Yet, according to private equity operating executives and their talent leaders, no one was fully prepared for a disruption of the magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.
“At the core of PE’s handling of the pandemic has been a vigorous focus on leadership” said Scott A. Scanlon, CEO of Greenwich, Conn-based Hunt Scanlon. “Beyond the chief executive, the roles of CFO, CHRO, heads of technology, CISO, you name it – they have all taken on heightened significance in the face of this crisis. We believe in many ways, seen and unseen, that this will continue longer after COVID-19 is beaten back.”
The pandemic, in fact, has rewritten the script for many portfolio companies in search of talent. According to one expert, even areas of businesses that are thriving because of COVID-19 – such as grocery store delivery and telemedicine – demand that companies make huge adjustments or risk losing customers. “It means that we need a reevaluation of leadership because we need a reevaluation of the strategy or the value creation plan that was in place when the investments were made,” said Hugh MacArthur, head of the global private equity practice at Bain & Company. “There are going to be some businesses that are going to be fundamentally different coming out of the crisis. What’s going to create value in those businesses is going to be fundamentally different than in the past.”
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media