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Human Capital Forum Recap | February 2022


February 7, 2022

By: Kyle Johnson

Every quarter we bring together top PE HR and talent executives to discuss current industry topics and to offer talent leaders in private equity the chance to gather, share intel, and decompress with one another. In our most recent event, we discussed many topics and listed our top takeaways below. 

These forums follow Chatham House Rules, so listed below are high-level takeaways only. Are you in private equity and interested in joining fellow leading PE professionals during our next Human Capital Forum? RSVP for our next event on May 4th.

Talent identification & recruitment:  

  • As firms continue to struggle with portco executive talent identification & recruitment, firms are having particular success exploring non-traditional recruiting tactics in a supported way, i.e. hiring from non-PE backgrounds but providing support to skill-up the newcomers.
  • Firms are using the assessment process to understand what drives and motivates candidates and then leaning into these aspects to not only identify candidates’ strong points but to also sell the job prospect without having to lean 100% on compensation. Another tip we heard on successfully closing the deal was to provide candidates with transparency for what happens post-exit, such as having successful case studies ready to show the candidates where past execs moved after a sale.
  • Using data – firms are exploiting their CRM by skill-coding candidates and having them on-hand when perfect-fit roles open.
  • Timing is key and shortening recruiting cycles seems to be the most assured way to increase the hiring success rate. PE firms are recommending that portfolio companies implement applicant tracking systems to help standardize and streamline recruiting processes.
  • One human capital leader recommended reading “Who” by Geoff Smart.

Assessment, onboarding, & setting executives up for success: 

  • Clarity and coaching are key. Set expectations from the beginning by showing the good, the bad, and the ugly with the portco. Then, share how the firm will support the exec and what the firm expects from them.
  • Provide the exec with the tools needed to hit the ground running—internal resources, systems, supplements to their development points, etc. and then give them the space to do the job. If PE ownership requires another 40% of their time at the outset, consider external resources to do the upfront heavy lifting.
  • One participant recommended providing new hires with an internal company culture “river guide” to help them understand and navigate the unique cultures of a given company.  This is particularly helpful for new CEOs who are tasked with being change agents.
  • One human capital leader recommended reading “The First 90 Days” by Michael Watkins.

Development & retention:  

  • Use transparency in showing portco executives their development path and opportunities.
  • Firms vary on the resources they rely on for training on organizational health, leadership development, and other skills.  Many are (at least beginning) full talent reviews of exec teams of portcos and increasingly implementing this practice with internal PE fund talent.
  • Employee engagement surveys are critical to understanding cultural and organizational health over time. How to get it started? Find a partner who buys in, start with baby steps, and show measurable success.

We thoroughly enjoyed the fruitful conversations that occurred during this recent gathering of PE human capital professionals. As noted in our 2021 Annual Insights Report, human capital remains one of the top initiatives in PE, with HR-related activities surging to 39% of all PE activity in 2021. If we can be of assistance during this busy time, please let us know.

Additionally, you may be interested in checking out some of our human capital specific resources, which can be found here: