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On September 21, 2023, Hunt Scanlon Ventures is convening hundreds of search firm founders, PE leaders, and investment bankers at The Harvard Club of New York to examine how executive search firms are unlocking value, funding expansion, raising capital, seeking PE growth partners, merging, and acquiring rivals to stay competitive during one of the industry’s most dynamic periods.

We understand that navigating through a complex M&A process is a discrete and highly intensive exercise. Whether you are looking to sell, acquire, merge, take on minority capital partners or secure debt financing, we will cover it all with the best experts across the field. We take you inside the latest deals to examine how investors themselves are assessing search firms – and evaluating risk.



A Special Thanks To Our Premier Sponsor



Sponsored by:

Rob Adams

Opening Remarks

Rob Adams Moderator – Hunt Scanlon Media
Moderator: Prakash Patel
Eric Walczykowski
Sam Barthelme

Partnering with Private Equity: The Bespoke Partners Journey

Moderator: Prakash Patel Chief Financial Officer – Bespoke Partners Eric Walczykowski Chief Executive Officer – Bespoke Partners Sam Barthelme Co-Founder & Managing Director – BrightTower

As more and more private equity firms enter the executive search industry, there are increasing opportunities to differentiate and scale. In this special presentation, Eric Walczykowski, CEO at Bespoke Partners, Prakash Patel, CFO at Bespoke Partners, and Sam Barthelme, co-founder & managing director at investment bank and strategic advisory BrightTower, hold an engaging discussion of how Bespoke formed a partnership with private equity firm AEA Growth to drive the company to its next stage of growth.



Introduction by: Drew Seaman
Cody Crook

From Start to Finish: Negotiating and Structuring a Successful M&A Deal

Introduction by: Drew Seaman Managing Director – Hunt Scanlon Ventures Cody Crook Managing Director – Hunt Scanlon Ventures

Negotiating and structuring an M&A deal is a complex process that requires a thorough understanding of the market, potential buyers or sellers, and the various deal structures available. In this session, Cody Crook, managing director at Hunt Scanlon Ventures, will offer a step-by-step blueprint on how to navigate the art and science of deal making, including how to structure a deal that meets the needs of both buyers and sellers. Cody will share his personal expertise on guiding search firms through Hunt Scanlon’s process, which includes how to avoid common pitfalls and securing the cleanest pathway to reaching a successful exit. Attendees will leave this session with a clear understanding of the deal-making process.




Networking Break

Moderator: Justin Pinchback

Assessing and Maximizing Equity Value in Executive Search Firms

Moderator: Justin Pinchback Chief Revenue Officer – ZRG Partners

In today’s highly competitive executive search market, maximizing equity value is critical to success. Private equity firms have recognized this and have taken investment positions in dozens of executive search firms in recent years. In the following panel discussion, leading private equity, investment banking and human capital management experts share their insights on how investors assess executive search firms for investment and how search firm founders can, in turn, drive sustainable growth. They reveal the secret sauce that the industry’s top dealmakers are using to unlock their true value.

Juan Gaitan
CEO and President

Trevor Romeo
Equity Research Analyst
William Blair

Tobey Sommer
Managing Director 
Truist Securities 

Nat Schiffer
President & Managing Director
The Christopher Group



Introduction by: Natalie Bennett
Umesh Ramakrishnan

Preparing for Your Exit: Reflections on Executive Search M&A

Introduction by: Natalie Bennett Chief of Staff – Kingsley Gate Umesh Ramakrishnan Chief Executive Officer – Kingsley Gate

Umesh Ramakrishnan, chief executive officer of Kingsley Gate, shares his perspective on what executive search firm leaders should know, consider, and do in preparation for being acquired, whether by a larger search firm or by an investor. With experience helming several acquisitions – and Kingsley Gate’s own acquisition by private equity firm Crescent Cove (2022) – Umesh brings a wealth of lessons, examples, and tips for search firm leaders at every stage in their growth and exit journey.



Rob Adams

Closing Remarks

Rob Adams Moderator – Hunt Scanlon Media

VIP Drinks Reception

Sponsored by:

A steady wave of M&A activity and consolidations continues to sweep across the executive search industry. In hot pursuit are private equity firms, investment banks, super boutiques, and multi-billion dollar consulting firms seeking new platforms – and investment opportunities – to drive growth.

If your search firm is preparing an expansion and in need of funding, seeking a private equity growth partner, considering a sale, developing an M&A strategy, setting up a transition plan, or mapping an exit, we take a deep dive with the best experts across the field. We take you inside the latest deals to examine how investors themselves are assessing search firms – and evaluating risk.

On September 21, 2023, Hunt Scanlon Ventures is convening hundreds of search firm founders, PE leaders, and investment bankers at The Harvard Club of New York to examine how executive search firms are unlocking value, funding expansion, raising capital, seeking PE growth partners, merging, and acquiring rivals to stay competitive during one of the industry’s most dynamic periods.

Meet key players in the PE community, shake hands with top executive search leaders, and discover your next move. Our formal sessions will include a continental breakfast followed by a networking break which will include mid-morning snacks. We end with a ‘champagne & nibbles’ gathering upstairs in the club where you will meet everyone one-on-one!

From Growth to Exit: Unlocking Your Firm’s Value‘ will include presentations by Prakash Patel, chief financial officer, and Eric Walczykowski, chief executive officer at Bespoke Partners; Sam Barthelme, co-founder & managing director at BrightTower; Cody Crook, managing director at Hunt Scanlon Ventures; Justin Pinchback, chief revenue officer at ZRG Partners; Juan Gaitan, chief executive officer at TalentoHCM; Trevor Romeo, equity research analyst at William Blair; Tobey Sommer, managing director at Truist Securities; Nat Schiffer, president and managing director of The Christopher Group; Natalie Bennett, chief of staff, and Umesh Ramakrishnan, chief executive officer at Kingsley Gate Partners. 

Harvard Club of New York City
35 West 44th Street, NY 10036

(Cancellation notice: any passes canceled after July 21st, 2023 will not be refunded. Sponsorships non-refundable.)


Sam Barthelme, Co-Founder & Managing Director – BrightTower

Sam Barthelme is co-founder and managing director at BrightTower, a New York City-headquartered investment bank focused on M&A advisory services, capital raising and debt capital markets.

Natalie Bennett, Chief of Staff – Kingsley Gate Partners

Natalie Bennett serves as chief of staff for Kingsley Gate Partners. Natalie has led the development and implementation of processes and systems for all day-to-day operations since the firm’s founding. She also leads internal and external communications, policies and procedure formulation, and provides insight and analysis of the firm’s operations. In her role, Natalie serves as the connective tissue for all departments and the leadership team to develop, prioritize and support both strategic and tactical operations worldwide.

Prior to joining Kingsley Gate Partners, Natalie spent 15 years with CTPartners as the firm’s director of quality and training. In this role, Natalie worked closely with senior management and practice leaders providing operational reporting and analysis, training, and professional development support. She partnered with senior leadership and the IT development team for all client-facing programs and platforms supporting search process excellence.

Cody Crook, Managing Director – Hunt Scanlon Ventures

Cody Crook is a managing director at Hunt Scanlon Ventures. Reporting directly to the firm’s co-CEOs, Cody is responsible for co-managing the firm’s investment portfolio, which includes executive search, talent acquisition, private equity, and investment firms. Leading the investment team, he spearheads all fund transactions and maintains portfolio developments. He is also responsible for sourcing, managing and monitoring investments and working with external portfolio managers, analysts and investors on active and prospective transactions.

Cody started his career in recruiting and later joined Accenture as a business strategy manager where he developed organizational and operating models and conducted M&A commercial due diligence for Fortune 500 companies. Following Accenture, Cody served as head of strategy & operations for Hirewell, where he built a modern recruiting tech ecosystem and led multiple acquisitions.

Juan Gaitan, Founder & CEO – TalentoHCM

Juan Gaitan is founder & chief experience officer at Talento Human Capital Management holding primary responsibility for managing the growth of the firm to $100M in revenue by 2025.

Juan is obsessed with TalentoHCM’s customers’ success and enabling their performance through custom design and implementation of talent & organizational solutions. With two decades of human capital management & transformation experience in 30+ industries placing over 20k professionals across 500+ organizations, Juan partners with senior business leaders and human resources management teams to facilitate, align, optimize, and execute.

Prior to TalentoHCM, Juan co-founded, managed, and grew a global professional services firm delivering management consulting in human resources & information technology as well as a robust recruiting services offering in search, RPO and staffing. Prior to the global professional services firm, Juan served as managing director of an executive search & HR advisory firm and held progressive business & HR roles with an emphasis in talent management, organization design, strategy & transformation, mergers & acquisitions, change management and technology.

Prakash Patel, Chief Financial Officer – Bespoke Partners

Prakash Patel is CFO of Bespoke Partners and has more than 15 years of experience in top-tier financial services and consulting engagements, including extensive work in private-equity-backed organizations. Prior to Bespoke, Prakash led multiple strategic initiatives at Kaufman Hall & Associates, including a minority equity acquisition of the firm, spinoff of a SaaS business, and four acquisitions. He previously led strategic transformation projects for client companies in a wide range of industries for Accenture. Prakash started his career at HSBC, where he managed major finance operations and reporting projects.

Justin Pinchback, Chief Revenue Officer – ZRG Partners

Justin Pinchback is chief revenue officer of ZRG Partners, one of the fastest-growing mid-sized global executive search firms in the industry. His thought leadership and expertise in human capital earned him recognition when he was named to Crain’s Magazine’s list of ‘2020 Notable Leaders in HR’. He has spoken at leading conferences including Linked In’s “Talent Connect” and MIT’s “Sloan Sports Analytics” conferences. His work has been featured in Harvard Business Review and he has been a guest lecturer at Harvard Business School and Princeton University.

Justin most recently served as chief administrative officer at Bluegrace Logistics, a $400M logistics brokerage and digital freight matching platform. While there he successfully led numerous large-scale initiatives including the organization’s COVID-19 response.

Prior to joining Bluegrace Justin focused on finance, technology and data science talent management and hiring. He designed and led Citadel’s global Datathon program, a hiring approach that focuses on ‘talent auditions’ as opposed to interviews. At Datathons professionals in the field of math, statistics, technology, and engineering compete by analyzing data to solve business and social problems.

Immediately following graduate school, Justin joined Bain & Co., where he was a strategy consultant focused on human capital, corporate restructuring, post-merger integration, and private equity. His career in talent started when he began recruiting MBAs to join the firm. Prior to Harvard and Bain, Justin worked in front line roles at top financial institutions including HSBC and Moody’s where he gained foundational training in finance, markets, and credit.

Umesh Ramakrishnan, Chief Executive Officer – Kingsley Gate Partners

Umesh Ramakrishnan is chief executive officer at Kingsley Gate Partners. He is responsible for executing Kingsley Gate Partners’ ambitious global expansion plan. Using both his operating experience and his search experience, Umesh is uniquely qualified to lead this firm into the future.

Over a career that spans three decades, Umesh has held several positions like vice chairman, chief innovation officer, president, and chief operating officer in the technology and service industries that have given him both strategic planning and operating experience. Most recently, he was co-CEO of Kingsley Gate Partners. He infuses this experience with the firm’s state-of-the-art scientific, cloud-based tools to execute searches for a select group of clients.

In his search career, Umesh has placed members of the boards of directors, CEOs, CFOs, CTOs, COOs, CDOs and other senior management positions in North and South America, Europe and Asia. When using our Synchronous Fit® framework, he utilizes relevant data from hundreds of these searches to ensure success. He is considered a thought leader and his quotes can be found regularly in major industry and global publications. He is a sought-after speaker and has been a regular guest on shows like CNBC’s Closing Bell and Power Lunch. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed “There’s No Elevator to the Top” published by Penguin worldwide.

Trevor Romeo, Equity Research Analyst – William Blair

Trevor Romeo, CFA, is an equity research analyst at William Blair covering companies the global services sector, with a focus on staffing, talent solutions, and human capital management services. Prior to joining William Blair in 2016, Trevor was a senior associate in KPMG’s economic & valuation services practice, where he provided business and intangible asset valuations to assist clients with financial and tax planning and compliance.

Nat Schiffer, President and Managing Director – The Christopher Group

Nat Schiffer has held virtually every job at The Christopher Group. Today he is the president & managing director. Nat has played a key role in the rebranding of TCG as an Agile HR & Business Solutions company that includes the launch of the firm’s interim HR leader and consulting divisions. Among his many accomplishments at TCG, he is most proud of TCG being recognized in 2019 and 2020 by Forbes as one of the nation’s top executive search firms.

With over 30 years of experience in human resources, corporate executive services, and executive search. Nat has a keen understanding of business strategy and operations, organizational structure, and talent acquisition/assessment/development. This unique combination of experiences enables him to play a pivotal role in partnering with senior executives at Fortune 500 firms, start-ups, P/E backed as well as private and closely held companies. Nat specializes in all levels of HR search but frequently leads the firms most senior-level searches to include CHRO, VP, and other levels with critical succession implications. He has recently completed searches across multiple industries and HR verticals with the likes of Phillips 66, Lamb Weston, Parker Hannifin, Air Products, Altria, SC Johnson, Delta Dental, VCA/ Mar’s Pet Care, Alcon/Novartis, Cal State Fullerton, and Acorn start-ups such as OYO Rooms.

Prior to assuming a full-time leadership role with TCG in 2010, Nat launched and sold a successful startup in the specialty logistics industry. In addition, he spent over 20 years in the financial services industry, 10 years of which was with Merrill Lynch & Co. in a variety of corporate advisory service roles that included corporate executive services and human resources benefit program roles. He was a member of the Merrill Lynch Advisory Council and Circle of Excellence.

Drew Seaman, Managing Director – Hunt Scanlon Ventures

Drew Seaman is a Managing Director at Hunt Scanlon Ventures. He is responsible for co-managing the firm’s investment portfolio of executive search, talent acquisition, private equity, and investment firms. In addition to sourcing new opportunities and managing the firm’s current investments, Drew leads the technical aspects of client engagements, including valuation and financial analysis and the preparation of investment marketing materials.

Drew began his career in wealth management before joining BMO Capital Markets as an Investment Banking Associate in the Financial Institutions Group. Drew assisted with transaction execution and prepared comprehensive valuation and financial analyses for clients in the specialty finance, asset and wealth management, and insurance sectors.

Tobey Sommer, Managing Director – Truist Securities

Tobey Sommer is a managing director at Truist Securities covering the commercial and government IT services sectors. He has 20 years of experience covering the services sector as an equity research analyst. His current coverage focus includes human capital management, consulting, government services contractors, and business services. Before joining the firm in 2001, Mr. Sommer held the position of director at E.J. Krause & Associates, where he organized international technology and industrial trade shows for six years, including establishing Brazilian operations. He served as a forestry volunteer in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic.

Eric Walczykowski, Chief Executive Officer – Bespoke Partners

Eric Walczykowski serves as chief executive officer of Bespoke Partners. He is passionate about building high-performing teams that value doing their best, working together, overcoming adversity and learning.

As a proven growth executive, Eric has served as CEO, president, board member, investor and advisor for technology companies that achieved over $4.5B in successful exits.

Eric brings to Bespoke Partners significant professional services experience from Deloitte and Andersen, as well as the high-growth client executive perspective for private equity-backed technology companies.


Premier Sponsor

Hunt Scanlon Ventures is a trusted leader in helping human capital firms realize their full potential.

Our global M&A advisory team offers a full range of critical solutions to guide founders and management teams to successful exits. We work side-by-side in partnership with them to scale and grow their businesses through a combination of capital investment, acquisitions, and other strategic initiatives. We also invest in leading human capital platforms as a limited partner, seeking co-investment opportunities alongside the VC fund managers we invest with. Our clients count on us to successfully navigate them through a strategic process that is often challenging, complex and highly intensive.

Hunt Scanlon Ventures has a singular focus on the human capital markets. That specialization gives us unmatched penetration into key talent solutions verticals ready for investment, including: Executive Recruiting, Interim and On-Demand People Solutions, AI & Human Enablement Technologies, Culture Change Consulting, RPO, Leadership Consulting, and Online Assessment, Coaching and Testing.

Our consultants leverage over 35 years of strong relationships with recruitment founders and private equity leaders. We use a unique blend of proprietary market intelligence and knowledge-based services to offer the most comprehensive investment advice to organizations ranging from the largest human capital advisors to specialist boutiques.

We understand that navigating through a complex M&A process is a discrete and highly intensive exercise. Whether you are looking to sell, acquire, merge, take on minority capital partners or secure debt financing, Hunt Scanlon Ventures will serve as your trusted partner and advisor.

Let’s explore your true value. For more information, visit www.huntscanlonventures.com.

Platinum Sponsor

Kingsley Gate, a leading, global, retained executive search firm, is elevating the search industry with a data-driven approach that centers decision making as the primary lens for identifying, evaluating, and selecting outstanding executive leaders.

Headquartered in New York, and operating globally, the firm’s consultants have helped over 1700 client organizations successfully hire and onboard thousands of decision-making executives across all industries, functions, and markets.

Since 2022, the firm has been backed by private equity firm Crescent Cove Partners LP. For more information, visit www.kingsleygate.com.

Breakfast Sponsor

Since 1999, ZRG’s data-driven approach to executive and professional search has been changing the way clients think about how to find top talent.

Today, ZRG is one of the fastest growing firms in the executive search and integrated talent solutions space, providing a full suite of executive, middle management, project, and interim search solutions globally through its offices in North America, Europe, South America, and Asia. For more information, visit www.zrgpartners.com.

VIP Drinks Reception Sponsor

Through award-winning, customized HR solutions, The Christopher Group delivers critical human capital solutions in executive HR search, interim HR leaders, and HR consulting. Since 1998, TCG has served clients across all industries, locations, company sizes, and verticals. Staffed by former HR professionals and highly trained search practitioners who have sat in the chairs, TCG, simply put, is one company with two operating divisions. The Recruiting Services Division (R.S.D.) and the Consulting Services Division (C.S.D.). The C.S.D. will be rebranded to HR Now. HR Now will incorporate HR contractors, fractional CHROs, RPO services, and consulting services. This newly branded division will be the major focus for growth in 2023 and beyond.

These divisions are bound together and serviced by a common corporate shared services platform that includes marketing, HR, finance, IT, and legal. Fast forward to today, TCG is one of the largest and most critically acclaimed pure HR solutions boutique in the U.S. For more information, visit www.tcgco.com.

Lanyard Sponsor

Talento Human Capital Management provides talent and organizational solutions enabling businesses to evolve beyond tactical human resources management.

The Talento recruiting division provides customized talent acquisition solutions by aligning the right talent through an industry changing client experience model. The firm’s approach evolves organizations from traditional recruiting models into a strategic, value-added capability. For more information, visit www.talentohcm.com.

Media Sponsor

ExitUp is the premier investment blog published by Hunt Scanlon Ventures, designed for private equity deal makers, the VC community, and M&A professionals interested in tracking developments across the human capital and professional services landscape. In every issue, our industry leading editorial team uncovers a wealth of lucrative opportunities within this quickly evolving sector where they interview investment specialists, industry analysts, CEOs, founders and management teams offering crucial subject matter expertise. Insightful, comprehensive, and competitive market analysis underpins every article. Remain at the forefront of human capital M&A trends as we unlock the doors to investment success. For more information and to subscribe now, visit https://exitup.huntscanlonventures.com/

Cancellation Policy

(Cancellation notice: any passes canceled after July 21st, 2022 will not be refunded. Sponsorships non-refundable.)


Thank you for your interest in attending our upcoming conference, From Growth to Exit: Unlocking Your Firm’s Value,’ to be held on September 21, 2023 at the Harvard Club of New York. The half-day event will begin at 8:00am with continental breakfast, a mid-day Networking break along with very exciting presentations by top professionals in the sector.

We invite you to come learn how the executive search community is reimagining how they can fund their growth and expansion plans, raise capital and prepare for an expansion or exit strategy.


Ticket Price: $750

(Cancellation notice: any passes canceled after July 21st, 2023 will not be refunded. Sponsorships non-refundable.)