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      Private Equity Operating Partner Job Description

      Operating Partner Job Summary

      The Operating Partner (OP) will work closely with the Board of Directors and investors to position companies for growth, identify acquisitions and work through cross synergy opportunities with other portfolio companies. They will also drive office expansion and recruiting, onboarding, and development strategies of other senior management and leadership. They will work with CEOs with strategic oversight and execution of key strategic initiatives and KPIs.

      Operating Partner Job Description

      Provide overall strategy and vision for portfolio companies over both the near  term and the long term, more specifically:

      • Work with CEOs on staffing strategies for established offices and expansion locations.
      • Manage full life cycle recruitment process and onboarding of Senior level executives and a new Chief Revenue Officers and Chief Sales Officers for two platforms.
      • Provide leadership in planning, forecasting, and due diligence to support the company growth and regional expansion objectives. Develop multi-year business scenarios to establish a planning foundation to assist senior level management in providing the structural needs for office systems and human capital support.
      • Assist the investors in identifying, prioritizing, and executing the key strategic initiatives across the business plans. Develop strategic direction and growth initiatives in a format that clearly outlines ROI for the sponsors approval.
      • Map out industry landscapes, develop a plan for partial growth through acquisitions and execute accordingly.
      • Strategically lead mapping revenue projections, budget forecasts, and production expense management.
      • Ensure that other companies within PE portfolio are collaborating and communicating across our portfolio of strategic initiatives, making sure that the right team members are included to ensure successful delivery of synergies.
      • Work with senior leaders to assess and develop their growth potential, effectiveness and performance. Partner with the individual strategic leaders of each business line to establish unit realistic performance objectives, training, education, coaching and mentoring.
      • Contribute to innovation efforts to continue to expand revenue opportunities and increase profitability across all platform investments.
      • Assist with growth initiatives to include more acquisitions and partnership identification strategies. Identify, research, and develop new opportunities/business ventures that fall within and outside of existing lines of business.
      • Identify and supervise human capital resources to leverage existing team to generate additional revenue.
      • Drive a continuous improvement mindset through the company culture.
      • Protect the confidentiality of information learned by developing protocols.
      • Comply with and outwardly support both the company and PE sponsors policies and procedure.

      Requirements

      • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience required. Master of Business Administration (or commensurate experience) preferred.
      • 10+ years of previous operational leadership experience.
      • 5+ years managing direct and/or indirect reports. Regional leadership and oversight experience preferred.
      • Deep operations knowledge in resource planning, demand planning, business planning, corporate strategy, communications, leadership, benchmarking, and forecasting required.
      • Market research, analytical, financial modeling, metrics, and presentation skills required.
      • Strong proficiency in the use of Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook required.
      • Organizational and time management skills to prioritize workloads to meet time sensitive deadlines required. Must be results-oriented with the ability to change priorities as needed.
      • Must have strong verbal, written, and interpersonal communication skills to interact with all associates, with the ability to communicate with tact and diplomacy.
      • Demonstrated ability to protect confidential information.
      • Ability to travel by automobile and aircraft and be away from home for more than one day and night.
      • Manage external relations to identify, diversify, build and maintain relationships with community and surrounding cities organizations and leaders to secure a range of support and partnerships.
      • Manage solicitations with board members and sponsors, and providing outcome reports. Lead cultivation and stewardship activities for charitable endeavors.

       

      Qualifications

      • Bachelor’s degree
      • 5+ years senior-level management experience including managing large teams
      • Ability to develop and execute short and long-term strategic plans; ability to develop and maintain external relations with a wide range of stakeholders and partners
      • Proficiency in software applications including Word, Excel, Outlook. CRMs
      • Valid driver’s license
      • Pass a background check

       

      Benefits, Culture, Etc

      We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.

       

      Cowen Partners is the nation’s executive search firm, enabling companies to harness the power of human capital to fuel their success. Cowen Partners gives our clients access to the top 1% of human capital to create opportunities that accelerate their growth and market share. With Cowen Partners, clients can grow at scale, create value, and drive results with world class talent.

       

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      Qualities of a Private Equity CEO

      CEO turnover within private equity firms is shockingly high. According to a 2017 survey by AlixPartners, as many as 58 percent of private equity CEOs are replaced within the first two years of acquisition. Switching CEOs after two years can be detrimental to a PE firm’s return on investment given that most PE acquisitions are only held for five to seven years. Attempting to introduce new leadership in the middle of a PE investment life cycle can be damaging to the company’s success and ultimately the profitability of the company.

      PE firms often experience high turnover because the CEOs hired or brought on during an acquisition do not meet the firm’s expectations. It is difficult to select the right CEO candidate for a private equity or venture backed company. Most candidates come from impressive backgrounds and have the first-hand experience that initially makes them seem like a good fit. However, if you really want to make sure you’re bringing on the right person to manage your investment look for a candidate who has the below qualities of a successful private equity CEO.

      Must be a team player

      CEOs need to be able to create a high-performing team, and a big part of that includes being a team player. Arrogant, self-involved leaders do not fare well in PE firms because they have a hard time motivating people to strive for the company’s goals. In some cases, an overbearing leader can even drive away top talent from the company.

      A private equity CEO should be able to empower direct reports and make sure everyone is on the same page when working toward company goals. This means a CEO is willing to delegate tasks to the team without micromanaging the process. A strong leader also knows how to promote talent development. Key jobs within the firm can be improved through skill development and training. A team player is more equipped to notice areas of improvement because they’ll be more familiar with the department duties and be more willing to listen to concerns from those under them.

      A few warning signs that indicate a candidate might not be the best team player include arrogant behavior and using “I” too much. If a CEO candidate is talking about past accomplishments and not giving any credit to his/her previous team, it’s an early warning sign that the person isn’t a team player. The number of colleagues a candidate can pull into their current venture also speaks volumes. If people who previously worked with the CEO want to stay on his/her team, that’s always a good sign.

      Has to be resilient

      PE firms are bound to face a few setbacks and roadblocks when turning around a company. The CEO needs to be able to face these challenges and take them in stride. A candidate who can give examples of overcoming past errors and setbacks is able to demonstrate their resilience. A firm can have confidence in a CEO who knows how to take a negative result and work toward a solution.

      You should be skeptical of candidates who have skated from success after success, or who at least try to make it seem that way. A CEO candidate who can talk about setbacks and how they overcame problems will give you a glimpse into how that CEO can adapt and work for your firm.

      Effective communication skills

      A CEO needs to have excellent communication skills to succeed. Open, straightforward communication can motivate team members and ensure everyone is on-target to reach company goals. It’s also imperative the CEO knows how to effectively communicate with other PE executives. Some CEOs do an excellent job managing their teams but struggle to convey information and needs to investors. In other circumstances, the opposite is true. The CEO works well with PE investors, but struggles to create a team environment within the company. A good CEO should be able to demonstrate an ability to communicate across all levels of management.

      When selecting a private equity CEO, executive recruiters also really pay attention to how a candidate will fit in with the PE house culture. PE executives don’t realize how important culture fit is when hiring a CEO for one of their portfolio companies. Executives have to take the culture into consideration for a number of reasons. If the current culture has been doing well for the company then sticking with the current CEO could be beneficial, but if the culture needs to be altered to produce the desired results then looking into other candidates is best. A clear understanding of the culture shifts that need to happen for the company to reach its full potential will help you make the right choice when selecting a private equity CEO.

      Choosing the right CEO for a portfolio company can make the difference between a profitable exit and stagnation. A CEO who demonstrates strong collaboration, resilience, and communication qualities will ensure your private equity investment is in good hands.

      Cowen Partners Executive Search

      Cowen Partners is a national executive search and consulting firm. Our clients are both small and large, publicly traded, private, and non-profit organizations.

      With our proven processes and guaranteed results, we have successfully placed hundreds of candidates in industries including technology, commercial real estate, healthcare, financial services, sales and finance.

      Contact us if you need help identifying a qualified CEO for your portfolio company.

       

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      What Private Equity Firms Want CFOs to Know

      Many chief financial officers (CFOs) are excited by the opportunity to lead a private equity portfolio company’s financials. The position looks good on a resume, often comes with a certain prestige and monetary bump; however, many CFOs do not realize what it takes to be successful at a private equity backed company. According to a 2019 survey, the turnover rate for private equity (PE) CFOs is greater than 80 percent. A majority of these exits take place within the first two years of a PE firm acquiring a company. CFOs are not meeting expectations or understanding their role in driving value. When this happens, PE firms don’t see the results they expected and contact me, an executive recruiter, to find a new CFO candidate.  

      Seattle Executive Search Firm | Cowen Partners
      Private Equity CFO Search Firm

      Private equity environments are very demanding, and it can be difficult for the CFO to know which skills need to be honed and which pitfalls to avoid. To make the transition to a PE backed company a little easier, below are four pieces of advice private equity operating partners and executives want CFOs to know.  

      Communicate openly with your Operating Partner or PE executives

      The role of a private equity operating partner (OP) can vary greatly between PE firms and their portfolio companies. In many cases, CFOs don’t fully understand what the OP has to offer, and that is why it is important for the CFO to have open communications with their operating partner. Ask your OP what resources are available so that you can have a full understanding of the tools at your disposal. 

      CFOs should also not be afraid to occasionally push back when OPs or other PE executives make a request. For example, if a requested financial report is going to take an inordinate amount of time and resources to compile, it is OK to ask why the numbers are needed and find out what the PE firm is trying to accomplish. Explain to the executives what it will take to provide what they requested so everyone is on the same page about the resources being dedicated to the task. Time and energy may be better spent completing other work, especially when what they want can be included in a regular report. 

      Keep your messaging consistent 

      As the CFO of a private equity backed company, you should be working closely with the company CEO to deliver consistent financial reporting and data analytics to the PE firm. It is surprisingly common for CFOs and CEOs to miscommunicate or to carelessly deliver divergent information to their private equity investors. Inconsistent information and communication do not inspire confidence. A successful CFO is able to work with the CEO to produce clear, consistent information that accurately reflects the state of the business sometimes on a weekly basis. 


      Strategically invest in technology

      Due to the stringent financial reporting requirements of PE firms, staying up to date on the latest technology trends is important for increasing efficiency and staying relevant in a rapidly advancing industry. According to a 2019 survey by Deloitte, 82 percent of PE investors believe automation and technology are going to have a major impact on finance functions over the next 10 years. A successful PE CFO will make strategic investments in technology to enhance processes. Ideally, these investments will eventually cut labor costs and create a more efficient workflow within the PE portfolio company.

      As a private equity CFO, you must start embracing technology. Old school financial reporting methods are being replaced by automation and as the CFO, you must be the one leading those changes. If technological advancements are not part of your strategic plan for the portfolio company, you need to pivot to start including them.

      Private equity CFOs wear a lot of hats

      As a private equity CFO, you must be flexible and wear many different hats. Before a business is acquired by a PE firm, a CFO might be perfectly fine filling the role of accountant. After a business is acquired, however, this is no longer the case. A PE CFO has to know how to strategically scale the business. Oftentimes, the duties the CFO previously held are increased exponentially to accommodate the rapid growth a PE firm demands.

      Succeeding as a PE CFO

      A typical PE experienced CFO will naturally oversee finances, but also may play a role in human resources, operations, supply chain management and negotiations, legal, information technology, and in some cases, real estate. A lot of CFOs inherited through an acquisition do not know how to adapt to these new duties required by the PE firm. That is part of the reason why CFO turnover is so high. You must realize a PE CFO role has higher expectations and you must quickly grow accordingly to match your new duties. 

      Ultimately, a strategic CFO is forward-thinking and has a personal and professional growth mindset. Your role as a PE backed CFO might be evolving into a more complex and challenging position, but it can also be the most fulfilling job opportunity of your career. If you remember the four messages above and work hard to bridge the skills gap, you will be more likely to succeed in your new role as a PE CFO. 

      Shawn Cole is President and Executive Recruiter at Cowen Partners Executive Search, a leading private equity CFO search firm. 

      Cowen Partners Executive search provides recruitment services to all major and minor industries including:

      Accounting, Advertising, Aerospace & Defense, Biotechnology, Banking, Board and CEO Services, Computer Hardware, Construction, Consulting, Consumer Products, Computer Software and Hardware, Education, Energy & Utilities, Entertainment & Sports, Finance, Financial Services, Food Products, Government, Human Resources, Health Care, Hospitality & Tourism, Insurance, Industrial, Internet & New Media, Legal, Journalism & Publishing, Marketing, Manufacturing, Medical Device, Non-Profit, Pharmaceutical, Real Estate, Retail & Apparel, Sales, Technology, Telecommunications and Transportation.

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