Virtual Panel Recording: How Investors Are Still Hiring Executives Amidst Uncertainty

Posted by The Bowdoin Group on February 22nd, 2021

What is one of the top concerns keeping Private Equity partners up at night? Talent.

Great executive talent is one of the most important factors driving portfolio 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.

With the success of their portfolio companies at risk, the strategy behind attracting and hiring the best is top of mind, with investors knowing they must execute on a coordinated approach around 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 virtual panel, hosted by our partners at Hunt Scanlon, The Bowdoin Group’s Jim Urquhart (Managing Director, FinTech) led a dynamic conversation with Todd Markson (Operating Partner at Bain Capital), Ishan Manaktala (Operating Partner at SymphonyAI), and Susan Clark (General Partner at TCV) around 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.

Here are three top themes that came out of the conversation around how PE partners are finding and recruiting executive talent:

  1. There are two types of CEOs: Those that run companies and those that change companies. The three panelists aligned on this point, where there is a clear difference in executives across the board when they’re considering talent for their portfolio companies. Are they going to affect change? Or will they continue with the status quo.
  2. Executives should highlight impact, not situation. When trying to get the attention of PE operating, investing, or talent partners, executives who want to introduce themselves should highlight how they moved the needle or how they grew/improved their organization in their previous roles, rather than a laundry list of the company’s key stats.
  3. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are a core part of the growth strategy. At the board level and at the executive level, PE firms are partnering with search firms and are digging deep into their networks to develop diverse pipelines, track DEI metrics, and work to improve these processes over time. It’s clear that building diverse teams across their portfolios will help drive better outcomes for everyone.

You can find the recording below:

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