Scott Estill of Lancor: Human Capital’s Evolving Role in Private Equity

Scott Estill recently joined the Karma School of Business podcast, sharing his insights into the dynamic world of private equity, with a focus on human capital.

In a captivating discussion with host Sean Mooney, Estill, a seasoned professional with a wealth of experience in executive search and private equity, discussed the transformative trends shaping the landscape of talent acquisition and management.

He emphasized the essence of human relationships, the mutual selection process in recruitment and the necessity of navigating technological changes with agility and adaptability.

Here are some pivotal insights from their conversation.

3 Takeaways from Scott

1. The Importance of Human Capital in Private Equity

Private equity’s approach to human capital has evolved, placing a stronger emphasis on the value of talent and human relationships in driving business success.

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Estill articulated this evolution, emphasizing that the real value lies in the talent that propels the business forward.

“What matters more is what’s your right to win. It’s not necessarily about picking the right weighted average cost of capital or whatever it is for the inputs of the model and how much debt to put on a business. It’s the people,” Estill said.

Mooney also highlighted the industry’s shift toward a more human-centric approach.

“This whole idea of this openness to get a candidate to be wanting to be with you and saying, ‘Call anyone you want.’ That’s something that is relatively new in private equity, but incredibly important,” he added.

2. The Shift in Approach: From Assessment to Mutual Selection

The recruitment process in private equity is transforming into a mutual selection process where both parties assess each other.

“You do need to show the human side. That’s sort of why operating partners exist. And we do a ton of operating partner work because you need the EQ-IQ combination,” Estill said. “But I think painting with a wide brush, if PE firms can be more and more human about what it is to work with them and why they value that talent, it makes the talent of course feel good and it differentiates them from the competitors.”

Mooney said private equity has always been, appropriately, private in the way it operates. But that is shifting.

“One of the biggest evolutions that I think private equity is going through right now is the first word in private equity has always been private. It’s all about kind of holding your cards tight and trying to be this kind of vessel and it’ll drive great outcomes,” he said. “Increasingly, there’s things going on like brand formation. … There’s heads of human capital or HR that are not only looking outwardly but inwardly.”

3. Embracing Technological Changes

In an era marked by rapid technological advancements, the ability to adapt and evolve is crucial. Estill underscored the necessity of embracing these changes.

“The only thing that’s consistent is change. So it’s going to happen. And so as much as we think we’re so smart and we’re trying to get ahead of the curve, we’re already dinosaurs,” he said.

Mooney emphasized the transformative potential of technology in reshaping the industry.

“If you lean into it and embrace it, it can be a good thing,” he said. “But it’s scary in the meantime.”

Estill’s insights illuminate the evolving landscape of private equity, underscoring the pivotal role of human capital, the transformative nature of the recruitment process and the imperative of adaptability in the face of technological advancements.

The entire conversation with Mooney offers nuanced perspectives essential for navigating the complexities of private equity in a human-centric manner.

When you’re done listening, head to the main BluWave podcast page for more conversations with business leaders.