Ward Howell International Launches Private Equity Recruiting Practice

Ward Howell International Launches Private Equity Recruiting Practice

December 10, 2017 – Global recruiter Ward Howell International has launched a private equity search practice which includes partners Asad Haider, Hank Flores, John Pothin, Mark Bradley and Sonia Prais.

Collectively, the team has experience in consumer, industrial, technology, energy, luxury and Omni channel retail businesses.

Mr. Flores is a partner at Ward Howell, where he co-leads the CPG practice for the Americas region and heads the firm’s global marketing leadership practice. He has been in executive search for nearly 10 years. Mr. Pothin, a partner in the firm’s consumer and industrial practices, has more than 30 years of combined business and leadership experience including several senior global leadership roles in human resources.

Mr. Bradley, venture capital practice lead, has been recruiting top talent in the high tech and consumer electronics industries for 34 years. Ms. Prais, a partner in Ward Howell’s life sciences practice group, has 20 years of experience in executive search, having worked in the U.S. and across Europe and Asia.

“We’ve been reminded by our clients in private equity that our unique talent perspective and advice to PE funds and leaders of portfolio businesses have tremendous value in the marketplace,” said Mr. Haider, who serves as president for the Americas at Ward Howell. “We are thrilled to focus resources on this market opportunity and share our talent insights.”

Recruiters See Heightened Demand for Private Equity Portfolio Leaders
Tatum, an interim services and executive search firm, has appointed Chris Shaw to regional partner of private equity services. Mr. Shaw brings 16 years of financial experience.

Growing Private Equity Sector

The private equity sector is now considered one of the fastest growing practice segments in the executive recruiting industry, with an expanding number of boutique search firms now servicing it coast to coast.

Private equity firms have been involved in some of the most notable business deals of the last two decades. But for the boutiques, the action seems to be centered around smaller, less well-known portfolio companies that make up a widening universe of investment vehicles for private equity firms like TPG, Bain Capital, Silver Lake Partners, Carlyle Group, Kleiner Perkins, Huntsman Gay, Blackstone Group, General Atlantic, Khosla Ventures and a host of others.

Aside from the big-branded executive recruiters, all of whom devote significant time and manpower to talent acquisition initiatives throughout the PE space, boutique search firms work alongside these investment brands to provide talent up and down the functional scale.

These include: Benchmark Executive Search, ZRG Partners, JM Search, Howard Fischer Associates, 680 Partners, Bespoke Partners, CarterPierce, Jamesbeck Global Partners, Braddock Matthews, the Flatiron Group, Rand Thompson Consultants, the Corrigan Group, SPMB, SG Partners, Oxbridge Group, Weatherly Group, True, Hobbs & Towne, Waverly Partners, Westwood Partners, Park Square Executive Search, Henkel Search Partners, Whitney Partners Executive Search, Juno Search Group, Long Ridge Partners, Pinnacle Group International and countless more.

Search Firms and the Private Equity Space

“Private equity has been one of the fastest-growing sectors as institutional investors stretch for yield, and returns from PE investments have been above many other established asset classes,” said Drew Desky, managing partner of New York-based Rand Thompson Consultants. “In reality, private equity’s reach is into all sectors of the economy when considering all the portfolio companies that have been acquired by PE funds. In fact, it is the expansion of this reach that’s been one of the primary reasons for the contraction of the number of listed publicly-traded companies,” he said.

The number of PE firms globally has almost tripled, said Mr. Desky. “There has been around a four-fold increase in PE assets under management since 2000,” he added. “Private equity is also one of the most attractive targets for junior finance professionals. We regularly see junior professionals whose only desire is to join a PE firm, which is the only reason why they try to get into a top investment banking analyst program. We believe this is the most competitive track in all of finance. It is also incredibly narrow, as lateral hiring into the investment and portfolio management side of PE firms is very limited due to lack of employee turnover.”

There is also much greater turnover and opportunity for search firms at the PE portfolio company level, he noted. “Restructurings, rightsizings, and planned growth all yield opportunities for hiring and talent upgrades at portfolio companies,” Mr. Desky said. “Since responsibility for these decisions are shared between corporate management and PE portfolio managers, we see search firms generating relationships with PE firms to access the activity at portfolio companies. Although PE firms themselves operate with a relatively small employee count, they have experienced moderate growth due to new fund launches, increased regulation and continual technology upgrades.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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