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Creating people value in the fast-paced world of private equity Creating people value in the fast-paced world of private equity
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January 19, 2015

Creating people value in the fast-paced world of private equity

Client: Platinum Equity

The engagement

When Platinum Equity needed to build up the firm’s core strength by expanding its in-house M&A&O™ team to include several new vice presidents, they turned to Kevin O’Neill and key members of the Acertitude team.

“Rapid cycle time is very important to me and our firm. They get that - and they deliver in half the time.”

Bryan Kelln, President, Portfolio Operations

The challenge

There is probably no other industry with a bias for action as remarkable as that of the world of private equity. It is an industry that lives, sleeps and breathes the adage, “time is money.” For this search to succeed against fundamental client goals, it was imperative to match Platinum Equity’s accelerated pace of play.

Even more important was the significance of the team to be built. Platinum Equity has earned its reputation with its trademarked strategy M&A&O™ which steers the firm’s rigorous evaluation of portfolio investment opportunities by integrating traditional M&A with operational expertise. The team is essential to understanding the key lever for value creation in today’s economic climate: a balanced, risk-adjusted assessment of the firm’s ability to improve a portfolio company’s performance.

The vice president, operations roles required a precise skillset, combining financial acumen and learning agility with strong field operations backgrounds. The new leaders would be expected to leverage the strategic planning and upfront financial analysis that shaped acquisition decisions against Platinum’s deep operational resources to help portfolio companies become more productive, efficient and valuable.

Further heightening the complexity of this executive recruiting engagement was the timing of bonus structures within the industry. Not uncommon in private equity, top-tier candidates had lucrative payouts due to them at the end of the calendar year. These financial incentives were often too significant for candidates to walk away from, and cost prohibitive for Platinum Equity to match. As a result, the transition plan for each new executive hire would need to be carefully managed.

The solution

Bringing a deep understanding of the complex hiring challenges inherent to the private equity sector, the Acertitude team conducted customized talent mapping research to identify the industry leaders known for driving economic value. A carefully considered go-to-market strategy combined with customized research ensured a slate of highly accomplished candidates was expediently identified. Each prospective candidate offered an impressive track record realizing economic value through financial analysis, imposing a tight regimen of cost reduction, and creating sustainable operating and productivity improvements at a portfolio. Looking beyond their past career experience, state-of-the-art interview and assessment tools ensured that all candidates demonstrated the focused, time-sensitive, action oriented mindset that would be fundamental to thriving in Platinum Equity’s high-stakes culture.

The impact

In 120 days, the Acertitude team identified numerous talented Operations leaders: The search engagement kicked off in mid-June. The first offer was accepted in July, and the last offer was accepted by November.

Consultants deftly managed extended transition periods: Each of the vice president, operations were to remain in their current positions for 4-months so as to not jeopardize year-end bonuses. Our team helped each candidate creatively navigate their work environment, and kept them “hot” throughout the process. All new team members reported for duty at the start of the New Year.

Platinum Equity certifies the return on their investment, reporting that all of the operations executives have had a positive impact on profitability and EBITDA.

The overall success of the project and the quality of the candidates placed is best evidenced by the fact that Platinum Equity immediately retained our team to oversee the search for two chief financial officer positions on behalf of its portfolio companies. Today, we are continuing to actively recruit ‘transformative’ leaders into Platinum’s newly acquired portfolio companies, most often finance, HR, operations & supply chain leaders.

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Platinum Equity, LLC specializes in the world of high-stakes mergers, acquisitions, and operations for mission critical products. Since its founding in 1995, the firm has completed more than 150 acquisitions globally. Today, the organization manages a fund of $3.75 billion.