March 11, 2019 – Signal Partners, a Santa Monica, CA-based search firm serving private equity sponsors and their portfolio companies, has appointed Kit Cooper to lead its new outsourced services practice. He will assist lower middle market investors and their portfolio companies find force-multiplying talent at all levels.
“Kit’s perspective is unique,” said Tom Nieman, co-founder of Signal Partners. “Yes, he’s an incredible recruiter. But he’s also an entrepreneur, been a successful CEO and served financial sponsors, so he understands the nuance and importance of hiring the right people at all levels. And now clients in the outsourced services sector can benefit from his experience, insight and advice.”
Mr. Cooper has spent the last 15 years working with private equity sponsors to build their portfolio companies, both as a founder and CEO and as an executive search professional.
In addition to his executive search expertise, Mr. Cooper started, ran and sold two outsourced business services companies, including Hispanic Teleservices Corp. (HTC), which was backed by both JPMorgan Partners and CVC. He helped HTC grow to over 3,000 employees and guided it through a successful acquisition by the Carlyle Group.
An Operator’s Perspective
As an experienced CEO, Mr. Cooper bring an operator’s perspective to search that allows him to calibrate quickly and empathize better with investors and CEOs’ needs in key hires, said the firm.
Mr. Cooper is passionate about the importance of human capital at all levels, said Signal Partners. He has spoken on the subject at MBA programs; YPO, a global network of young chief executives; and conferences such as SXSW. He also runs the CEOExperienceSeries.com. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history from UCLA and an MBA from Georgetown University.
Signal Partners is a nationwide search firm addressing the talent needs of private equity-backed companies. The firm drives a custom, high velocity process for C-level and critical non-executive positions.
The private equity sector can expect to see an expanding bidding war for top talent, experts say. Driving the trend: persistent global talent shortages across the C-suite. Nearly every industry and function is affected, including finance, healthcare and biotech, digital and technology, among others.
“Private equity firms are becoming much more attuned to the role that exceptional talent plays in value creation,” said Alan Guarino, vice chairman of Korn Ferry. Increasingly, he said, private equity firms are seeking out Korn Ferry for a myriad of talent solutions capabilities “in an effort to raise the bar on talent strategy,” from the use of psychometrics to other solutions across the talent supply chain.
For most private equity leaders and their chief talent partners, “talent itself is now seen as the ultimate value generation lever,” said Glenn Stevens, a talent expert with Apollo Global Management. “Designing, building and enabling management teams capable of achieving their value-generation initiatives are critical to a successful outcome,” he said.
Leadership Crisis Unfolding at Private Equity Firms
According to a coming research report from Hunt Scanlon Media, the private equity sector can expect to see an expanding bidding war for top talent. Driving the trend: persistent global talent shortages across the C-suite. Nearly every industry and function is affected, including finance, healthcare and biotech, digital and technology, among others.
“Leadership is the new bottom line for private equity operating executives seeking top talent for their portfolio businesses,” said Scott A. Scanlon, the firm’s founding chairman and CEO. “The PE sector is in the crosshairs of a widening war for leadership.”
“For PE firms, nothing is more important than the leaders they place into the companies they oversee,” said Mercedes Chatfield-Taylor, private equity leader at Caldwell. Hiring the right people, she said, can bring great returns. “We’ve helped our PE partners to evaluate opportunities by connecting them to highly relevant domain experts, in ‘real time,’ as they consider any number of highly time sensitive deals.”
The Right Mix
Of course, the skill-sets these leaders possess must have enormous range – and identifying the right mix in one leader is where the well-honed skills of an executive search expert come into play. “The best leaders must have executive presence and the ability to immediately command respect, internally and externally,” said John Marshall, CEO of JM Search.
After hunting down executives for nearly four decades, Mr. Marshall has devised his own cheat sheet for reference. “I look for leaders with strong core leadership skills, who are willing to manage with a hands-on approach, and who can multi-task on a regular basis.” He said leaders with a positive approach to problem solving and who encourage a ‘can-do’ solutions-based approach are an ideal fit for private equity-backed businesses.
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media