Hunt Scanlon 2022: Human Capital in Private Equity

Last month, our team had the chance to attend Hunt Scanlon’s private equity recruiting conference in New York. At the conference, our founder & CEO, Sean Mooney, had the opportunity to sit on the panel, “The Art of Building Private Equity Leadership Teams,” alongside  Jimmy Holloran of ParkerGale Capital, Amanda Roberts of L Catterton, Michelle Nasir of Arsenal Capital Partners, Kit Cooper of Signal Partners, and Adam Zellner of Business Talent Group. There were many value-filled panels throughout the day, allowing for hundreds of PE leaders to discuss and share their thoughts with one another on the current state of strategy, culture, and talent.

The pandemic has both accentuated and accelerated PE’s greatest challenges, and human capital is challenge #1. PE human capital leaders have quickly become the busiest people in the industry, demonstrated by our BluWave Activity Index which shows that 42% of PE projects in Q1 ‘22 were related to human capital, which was up from 36% in the previous quarter. Our key takeaways from the conference below share how talent leaders are staying busy and how they are creating efficiencies to drive more value while they are in such high demand:

1. The Need for a Data-Driven Approach to Talent

  • Business leaders are increasingly recognizing the importance and value of quickly getting the right talent in place across all organizations. According to McKinsey, organizations that get talent right in the first year see 2.5x ROI on their initial investment. Getting talent right is not just a necessity for the C-suite, 90% of critical talent needs in a company lie below the C-suite.
  • With so much at stake if you get talent wrong, many PE firms and proactive businesses are taking a data-driven approach to human capital in order to have best practices to track against.

2. Talent-to-Value

  • Not only does getting the right talent in place quickly improve ROI, it is also crucial to enable companies to deliver on their value creation plans. One way firms are ensuring they get the talent they need is by developing great relationships with their recruiting firms. This allows recruiters to gain a sense for what “talent for that specific firm” looks like.
  • While human capital is critical to value creation, everyone is fishing in the same pond for talent, creating difficulties in getting the talent you need. One solution to this is to take a holistic approach to talent identification & recruitment in which you identify the key targeted areas for value creation in a portfolio company and then systematically focus and prioritize solving the talent that will have an impact on the biggest value creation opportunities. This has been called the “Talent to Value” approach.

3. Growing Emphasis on Culture and DE&I

  • There is a growing emphasis on culture and DE&I in private equity
  • On the DE&I side, each firm needs to take a personalized approach that works for them. A good starting point is to take an initial framework and gather data internally to make sure everyone is included and heard. Then, needs should be measured on a quarterly basis to see how you are improving over time.
  • On the culture side, a focus on internal company culture will help with recruitment & retention efforts, which ultimately, will help you advance your value creation plans. One way to do this is to assess what currently sets your culture apart and then build on it from there. Additionally, interviews should be assessing if candidates have cultural alignment, as much as they are assessing if they have skill and will.

Balancing the art and science of connecting talent to value, amidst a tight market will be the key driver to success as we head into the second half of 2022. If we can be of any assistance, please let us know.

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


PE VP Forum Recap | June 2022

Every quarter we gather Vice Presidents in PE to discuss current industry topics and to offer these peers the chance to gather, share information, and decompress with one another. In our most recent event, we discussed how scarcity and inflation are impacting human capital in PE as well as how firms are approaching finding opportunities in a choppy market. We’ve listed our top takeaways below.

These forums are invite-only and follow Chatham House Rules, so listed below are high-level takeaways only. Are you in private equity and interested in joining fellow PE VPs during our next PE VP Forum? Register here.

Scarcity and inflation impacting human capital: One of the unsung areas where inflation is impacting the economy the most is human capital.

  • Firms are taking a closer look at culture to increase retention and not just thinking about wages, but the total employee experience and related rewards.
  • Investments are being made in portco HR (CHROs, VPs, Directors) to collaborate with marketing functions on recruiting content to promote the benefits of an organization beyond dollars per hour. Portcos are also utilizing their current staff to recruit and network with candidates, such as incentivizing them with referral bonuses.
  • Another interesting concept is building in-house training programs to grow net-new talent pools instead of taking and losing employees to and from competitors.

Finding opportunities in a choppy deal market: The confluence of rising interest rates and geopolitical pressures are causing the deal market to become increasingly choppy. Firms are looking for ways to find opportunities in the face of risk and rising recession risk.

  • Teams are getting creative in deal sourcing by exploring new channels by moving down-market and supplementing with add-ons, focusing on proprietary or limited process situations, looking for failed auctions, and continuing to build new relationships.
  • It’s becoming increasingly necessary to be mindful of quality when selecting which deals to pursue and heightened diligence in underwriting, particularly when modeling downside scenarios. This has become even more important as we’ve seen multiples climb higher and higher over the past 12 months. Deal teams are adding extra layers of scrutiny to verify that businesses are valued at a level that will be appropriate over the coming foreseeable months.
  • Teams are spending significant time exploring targets’ operating leverage to understand performance in downside scenarios.
  • A number of firms are seeing an economic reset as an opportunity to find unique opportunities to potentially get quality assets at lower multiples, gain market share, and/or consolidate markets as weaker competitors seek safety and circle wagons.

We thoroughly enjoyed getting to gather with PE VPs to discuss these current industry hot topics. We’d be happy to connect you to the PE-grade, exact-fit, third-party resources you need to assist you in this pressurized market, just contact us here.

Learn more about how we can specifically help Deal Quarterbacks and access a toolkit that can help you do your job more efficiently here.