The Morgan Samuels Perspective

Should I Take an Executive Recruiter's Call?

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Mon, Oct 31, 2016

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The short answer, YES! As Lynn Wu, Principal at Morgan Samuels, acknowledges, when you are happy with your current job, you might feel reluctant to take an executive recruiter’s call—but you shouldn’t be.  Recruiters are incredible assets to professionals.  In fact, executive recruiters provide potential candidates with tangible benefits that go far beyond the actual role being discussed during a recruiting call.  So, if you are a professional who is not actively looking, why should you take a call from an executive search firm?

  1. It’s the Best Time to Consider Opportunities.  The time to consider new opportunities is not when you are hunting for a job. Instead, as a professional, you should evaluate your career opportunities when you have been doing well in your current organization.  It is at this time that you are the most marketable, and an outside opportunity may provide you the opportunity to leverage your current success for a career-defining position that will take you to the next level.  Being happy in your current role allows you to evaluate opportunities objectively.  The pressure is off.  And oftentimes, the fact that you are not looking for a new role makes you an even more attractive candidate. If the opportunity you are evaluating is not an attractive next step for you, you're not obligated to move forward.
  2. It’s a Great Networking Opportunity.  Networking at the executive level is vital for future career success.  When you go through the recruiting process with an elite executive search firm like Morgan Samuels, we take the time to interview you in depth and to understand what’s truly important to you.  Even if you aren’t the right fit for the current role being discussed, you may be the perfect fit for a future search.  In addition, as you learn more about the opportunity through interviewing with the client, that also represents a valuable networking opportunity with one or more senior executives at another firm.  In the Engineering & Construction industry, for example, it is not uncommon to see joint ventures and other partnerships come out of what was initially an interview.  In other cases, a candidate might end up being considered for a different opportunity within the same organization.  We have even seen a client company create a position for a candidate who doesn't quite fit the open role, but whose skills, talents, experience and cultural fit are too valuable to pass up. Even if you decide that the open position isn’t the right fit for you or the client moves forward with another candidate instead, it is still time well spent to have met top executives in your industry.   
  3. It’s the Perfect Time to Pay It Forward and Provide a Referral.  Another reason to take a search firm's call, even if you are satisfied in your current position, is that recruiters are always sincerely appreciative of referrals.  This starts a relationship between you and the recruiter (see #5 below for why that is important). At Morgan Samuels, we genuinely value and foster our relationships with candidates and sources as much as with clients. The people being referred -- your colleagues -- will also be grateful.  This fosters mutually beneficial business relationships, and well… it’s just good karma.
  4. Recruiters Are Subject Matter Experts.  Executive recruiters are excellent resources and subject matter experts about the industries they recruit for.  They have a good understanding of current compensation rates, market trends, key insights, etc.  They are industry experts in their chosen specialty.  You should take advantage of this fact.  Even if you aren’t actively seeking a new position, perhaps taking the call from that recruiter will provide you with important information on growing business trends in your area of specialty.  Recruiters are goodcontacts to have and can also provide valuable insights to help further your career.  In addition to career guidance, they can provide interview and resume feedback, and generally help you understand how you are being perceived in the marketplace.
  5. In This Economy, It’s Important to Know Recruiters.  While the economy has improved substantially, it is not what it used to be - especially for job seekers.  Now more than ever, it is critical for an executive to be on a first-name basis with a competent and knowledgeable recruiter.  You should always be building your network, in any case.  Indeed, you should know recruiters before you have to use them.  Morgan Samuels keeps in touch with our candidates over decades and we truly value the long-term relationships we’re able to establish and maintain with our candidates over the years. 

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Final Words of Advice: 

  1. Return the recruiter’s call promptly.
  2. Be up front with the recruiter about your capabilities, credentials, and current compensation package.
  3. Be open to sending your resume to the recruiter for consideration for future opportunities even if the role being discussed is not a fit.  Having your resume on file enables you to be more quickly considered for new searches that launch in the future, since search firms will check their internal database and networks first.  You may also want to keep abreast of current open searches at a firm you have connected with.  That way, when you see a role that interests you, you can reach out to the recruiter you know to get the scoop and throw your hat into the ring. Morgan Samuels' list of active engagements can be viewed by clicking here.
  4. Be open-minded to exploring an opportunity even if the location is not ideal.  There are so few senior-level positions the higher up you go in your career, that to take your career to the next level, it is important to be flexible when it comes to location.
  5. Keep in mind that, even if you don't end up taking the position, going through the recruiting and interviewing process in and of itself is valuable, from the standpoint of deepening yourrelationship with the executive search firm, and networking with the client company, as well as sharpening your interviewing skills and refining your resume.

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Lynn Wu, Principal

To learn how you can work with Lynn or any of our recruiting professionals 

on finding your next great recruit, visit us here today. 

 

For career guidance as well as Morgan Samuels’ candidate tools and resources, click here.

 

Topics: executive recruiters, morgan samuels, executive search firms, compensation, executive search, executive search consultants, resume tips, interview tips, talent

The Compensation Question: To Share or Not to Share?

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Wed, Oct 12, 2016

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 That icon of etiquette, Emily Post, once said a very well-bred person never speaks of money except during business dealings.  Times change, etiquette evolves, but even now people are skittish about the dreaded Compensation Conversation.  It becomes the elephant in the room – the monster under the bed – but it doesn’t have to be.  In fact, when it comes to retained executive search, it is a two-minute conversation that should be viewed as an opportunity to show not what you make, but what you’re made of.

Senior Client Partner Alison Woodhead and Director, Recruiting Ali Brainard two of Morgan Samuels' most experienced recruiters point out that the compensation question is only one data point.  It’s analyzed with a whole host of other factors to determine the candidate’s fit.  “We want to get an understanding of the candidate’s compensation just to get an idea of their experience and expectations, and to assess opportunities,” Brainard said.  “If they’re way over or under the mark we don’t want to waste anyone’s time.”

“Be confident about your value and what you bring to the table.” - Alison Woodhead

That being said, there may be a huge range the client is willing to pay for the best talent, and someone below the mark could reap the benefits.  Woodhead has seen up to 75 percent increases in compensation, for example.  And Brainard points out that if a candidate is being paid way above or below the market, it can mean any number of things.  Someone getting three or four times market rates may be extraordinary, but someone way below the mark may be just as talented. Perhaps there are other variables, like cost of living, staying with one company too long, or working at a start-up where the compensation structure is different.  In that case, they just need the right opportunity to take the next step up.

AlisonWoodhead.jpgSome people believe that if they share their compensation right off the bat, they lose bargaining power in the negotiation stage.  But a candidate for a senior executive position isn’t a dime a dozen.  He or she has a very unique set of qualifications, and clients will pay for top talent.  In fact, Brainard and Woodhead have found that the strongest candidates, people who have been successful in their career, don't think twice about throwing out that number.

“When you’re exploring an opportunity, your focus as a candidate needs to be on your fit with the opportunity and what you bring to the table,” says Woodhead.  “If you’re too focused on compensation, either hiding your compensation or positioning yourself for a good negotiation later on down the road, you’re going to come off as insecure.  You also waste time and energy too early in the process.  The recruiter or hiring manager doesn’t even know if you’re valuable yet, so why would they spend time thinking about what to pay you?”

Senior Client Partner Alison Woodhead

AliBrainard.jpgWhat people don’t realize is that a recruiter can be a treasure trove of information and data.  They can tell a candidate if they really are undercompensated compared to their peers, and a candidate should feel comfortable asking that question.  It’s not only more than acceptable; it shows honesty, transparency, and trust in the recruiter.


So remember, when it comes to negotiation the most critical thing is to come across as capable and confident.  Regardless of what you’re making today, have a clear sense of your worth, and trust that the people on the other side of the table will see that value.  Companies are willing to pay for that.   VISIT US HERE!

Director, Recruiting Ali Brainard 

Topics: morgan samuels, retained search firms, compensation, executive search, talent

Retained Search vs.Contingency: An Executive Recruiter's Perspective

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Fri, Sep 16, 2016

It can be difficult for a hiring company to decide whether the services offered by an executive search firm are necessary or whether a contingency firm might suffice. Morgan Samuels Associate Consultant Robby Kempton is one of our executive recruiters and sells career-defining opportunities to senior executives and C-level candidates every day.  Ms. Kempton has experience working on executive searches with both retained and contingency firms.  Understanding the differences between retained search firms and contingency firms is the first step to understanding their value and the best fit for your company’s needs.

unsplash_businessman_suit.jpgWith thousands of potential candidates competing for coveted senior-level opportunities, executive search firms can be valuable partners in helping companies identify and attract not only top talent, but those best suited for the particular role and company culture. “Retained executive search firms like Morgan Samuels truly collaborate with the hiring company to deeply understand the strategic needs of the business and how the role will contribute to the future of the company, as well as more nuanced elements like company culture.  Morgan Samuels recruiters scour the universe to seek out the most qualified talent that matches the specific needs for each role,” says Kempton.  "Unlike contingency firms that tend to rely on their existing database, retained executive search firms are more likely to reach out into the market to recruit 'passive candidates' -- executives who are not actively looking for a new opportunity, but may be a strong fit for the role. Contingency firms are likely to have a large pool of candidates in their database to shop around to several companies who have broader and more open criteria.”

Contingency and retained search firms also have different business models.  “As the name implies, retained search firms are paid a retainer to source the best possible talent.  They are typically the only firm engaged to fill the role and are paid for their services at the start.  Contingency firms, on the other hand, are only paid upon placement and may be competing with several other firms in the market.”

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Robby Kempton, Associate Consultant

Retained search firms and contingency firms also differ in terms of the advantages they provide.  “The advantage of retained search is that by partnering with the firm, the client company has a greater chance of finding the best candidate in the market, who possesses the specific requirements for the role,” says Kempton.  “The level of the talent and the loyalty of the candidate significantly increase when they are paired with a search firm that aims to match stated requirements, like educational background and work experience, versus candidates in an existing database.”

The way that candidates are found also varies between the two types of firms.  According to Kempton, in most cases with contingency firms, the candidates approach the firm, especially if it is a reputable agency.  Retained search firms seek out the best specific talent in the market, targeting certain companies and industries and reaching out to candidates with the skills and backgrounds that meet the client’s needs.

The use of executive recruiters through both retained and contingency firms can benefit any company.  Whether searching for senior-level executive placements or mid-level executive placements, executive recruiters can provide value.

"For higher level placements, including C-level, it is beneficial to use a retained search firm, because there tends to be a very small selection of candidates who possess the specific skills, experience, qualities and culture fit the client is looking for,” says Kempton.  “On the other hand, contingency firms are more appropriate when the needs are not as specific and there is a large pool of qualified candidates in the market.”  Kempton believes that both types of executive search firms are beneficial and can serve as extensions of the client’s Human Resources department.  Both types of firms provide the most value when they are viewed as true partners to the HR department, working together to find the best possible talent based on the hiring company’s strategy, culture, challenges and key business objectives. 

For more information on retained search firms, how they work, and how executive recruiters can add value to your hiring process, contact Morgan Samuels.

Topics: executive recruiters, retained search firms, top executive search firms

Tips for Creating an Impactful Resume

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Wed, Sep 7, 2016

 
When creating or revising your resume for submission to executive employment agencies like Morgan Samuels, it is important to keep in mind a few tips and tricks to help boost your resume and make it fully represent you as a potential employee. While many people have learned about resumes and how to properly construct them, it is important to realize that professional resumes are different than the resumes you created in your high school study skills class. Below is a list of helpful tips and tricks from Morgan Samuels.

1. Always consider the reader. Most resumes are not studied and read word-by-word. Executive recruiters typically scan a resume for a few seconds to quickly make an initial assessment. As you write your resume, stay aware of how you can make it easy for the reader to find the relevant information: your skills, experience, and accomplishments. Many executive recruiters will pass over resumes if the document is hard to read, overly wordy, or distracting. By making sure your resume appears professional, clearly organized, and up-to-date, you increase the chances that the reader will find the alignment between your experience and the opportunity at hand.
 
  • Make sure your resume looks “clean”. Imagine that this document was given to you for the first time, would you say that it looks easy to read and organized? If not, clean it up.
  • Choose a legible font and size. Arial and Times New Roman are good choices.
  • Don’t use less than a font size of 10pt. and don't use a font greater than 12pt.
  • Avoid the heavy use of paragraphs or long sentences. Blocky text can also be awkward.
  • Omit the “Objectives/Summary” portion. If you must keep it, make the objectives portion no longer than 2-3 sentences and place your skill set in a bullet format.

2. Quantify your accomplishments as much as possible. By providing quantitative figures and results from your specific job experience, you will demonstrate how well you are able to turn a goal into a reality.
 
  • Did you increase profits? If so, how much? Include the dollar amount or percentage to provide tangible and measurable results.
  • Did you cut costs? If so, how much? Again, include a dollar amount or percentage to help keep the results tangible.
  • Take your industry performance into consideration. How did your results compare to what was happening in the industry? Did you outperform the industry?
  • List results and skills, not just duties.
3. Stick with two pages. Forget the one page limit rule; however, you should still remain concise with the information you present from your background. Two pages should be the ideal length. Three pages is okay for senior executives, but that should be the limit.

4. Avoid excess. Avoid graphics, pictures, logos, etc. as they can be distracting. Also graphic heavy documents can be difficult to open if you are sending your resume via email.

5. Restrict personal information. Be cautious of what personal information you include. It probably doesn’t matter that you love sushi or raise goats. List extracurricular activities that will play to your strengths. If you’re an avid marathon runner, this pastime demonstrates determination and tenacity. Civic involvement is also an attractive addition because it demonstrates your concern for the greater good.

6. Having a “Master Resume” is helpful. A master resume is a general resume which you can tweak, rearrange, cut and customize to fit the requirements for a specific role. You can highlight the experience and skills that best align with the opportunity.

7. Do not rely on spell check. Have multiple eyes review your resume, not only for content, but also for typos. Typos seem small; however they can communicate carelessness, which is not something an executive recruiter or hiring manager wants to see. 

Click here to download Morgan Samuels' handy Resume Guide:

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Topics: executive recruiters, morgan samuels, resume tips

Topics: executive recruiters, morgan samuels, executive search, resume tips

Interviewing by Video Conference?  Avoid These 10 Pitfalls.

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Wed, Aug 17, 2016

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You've submitted your resume, received the call for an interview and then find out it's via video conference.  No problem, right?  Video conferencing is being employed more frequently as a tool to help connect hiring managers and executive candidates quickly, efficiently, and economically. Without the right preparation, however, video conference meetings can hurt instead of help an executive move to the second round of interviews. 

Below are our top ten pitfalls to avoid just in time for your next video conference interview:


10.  Poor internet connectivity
You can do everything right, but if you don’t have sufficient internet access, you will surely frustrate yourself and the interviewer. Nothing is more painful than listening to a candidate apologize profusely about their internet connection. It makes it hard to visualize an executive in a senior leadership position. 

9.  Thinking a video conference is the same as a casual meeting
You may use Skype every day to talk to your brother in Europe, but don’t confuse your next video conference interview with a friendly chat online. The same interview engagement rules apply. Be relaxed, but confident and buttoned up as well. Professionalism is always in style and always appropriate.

8.  Overlooking your background
If you need to do a video conference interview on a laptop (and not in an office), be sure to preview the image that the other side will see. You don't want the interviewer to be so distracted by a sloppy background (piles of papers, opened drawers, dingy furniture), that it is hard for them to imagine you in a corner office.

7.  Not spending the time upfront to address image and sound issues
Most organizations will happily (and gratefully) conduct a test of the connection in advance of the actual interview. After all, they don't want to experience technical problems on their end, either. Feel free to request a test before the day of the interview to iron out any audio or image issues and ensure a smooth connection.

6.  Slouching or leaning back
What would seem like a pleasant relaxed pose in person can often look like really bad posture on camera. Take a cue from your second grade teacher and sit up straight.

5.  Body language
What applies to behavior in person also applies during a video conference.  Don't fidget, don't fuss with your hair or your clothes, don't allow yourself to appear distracted, etc. You want to appear professional and focused and your body language says as much about that as your words do (if not more). One thing you should allow yourself to do is SMILE (when appropriate).

4.  Thinking any lighting will do
Conduct the interview in an open, well-lit space. Spot lighting and dim rooms make people look tired and unattractive. Avoid being lit from behind (e.g., sitting in front of a bright window), as you will appear on camera in silhouette. Make sure there is sufficient lighting in front of you to make your facial expressions easy to discern. After all, that's one of the main reasons to do a video conference in the first place! 

3.  Not dressing for the camera
Stripes and small patterns create a busy effect on computer and television screens. Solid colors (other than black or white) read better. Women should avoid shiny jewelry, dangly earrings, dewy makeup, and glossy lipstick. These all appear exaggerated on camera.

2.  Not adjusting the camera position
If you are using a laptop to do a video conference, we recommend placing it on a stack of books so you are not looking down on the laptop’s camera. This is usually a very unflattering angle and even the slimmest people look like they have a double chin.

1.  Looking at the picture and not the camera
It’s hard not to look at the face you see on the computer (or your own face while you are talking). However, if you want to present the most professional and commanding image, try to focus your gaze at the camera. It will come across that you are looking your interviewer in the eye. This takes some practice, but it is well worth the effort.

 

 What are some tips that you use during video conferencing? Tell us in the comments below!

 

Want to learn more about Morgan Samuels' approach to executive search?

Request More Information

 

 

 

Topics: executive search, C-suite, interview tips, talent

How to Build an Effective, Diverse Board

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Fri, Aug 12, 2016


In the video below, Morgan Samuels Senior Client Partner Linda Rebrovick shares valuable insights on building an exceptional board, including:

  • The importance of the working relationship between the CEO and the board
  • The role of the Nominating and Governance committee
  • Seeking out diversity of thought as well as gender, ethnicity, international expertise, etc.
  • Ideas for finding candidates of diversity
  • Advice for new Board Directors
  • The rewards and challenges of serving on a board

This Week in the Boardroom is a weekly on-demand webcast program designed to educate board members and C-suite executives on topics/issues that impact their operational and strategic decisions. 

On this program, Linda Rebrovick talks with host TK Kerstetter about Building an Effective Board. Mr. Kerstetter is the President of Corporate Board Member - the leading information resource for senior officers and directors of publicly traded corporations, large private companies, and Global 1000 firms.  

 

 

Click here to find out about Morgan Samuels Board Practice.

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Click here to contact Linda Rebrovick directly.  


 

Topics: morgan samuels, leadership, executive search, CEO, C-suite, board of directors, women, talent

Morgan Samuels gives back with Operation Gratitude!

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Fri, Aug 5, 2016

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L to R: Alicia Montgomery, Angela Wynn, Robby Kempton, Bert Hensley

Recently, the Morgan Samuels team proudly participated in Operation Gratitude's Battalion Buddies program.  Our team members built over 100 of these cuddly bears to be sent in care packages to the youngest Warriors — the children of deployed Military.  The specific intent of Battalion Buddy packages is to provide comfort to those children who will not see their parent for a long time and need something to hold on to.  Each Battalion Buddy wears a tag saying: “Hi Brave Young Warrior! I am your Battalion Buddy. I am here to cuddle with you while your Mommy or Daddy is away.”

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L to R: Stacy FitzgeraldRobby Kempton

Supporting our military holds special meaning for Morgan Samuels' Chairman & CEO Bert Hensley, a military veteran himself.  Earlier in his career, Bert served five years in the United States Army Aviation Branch, where he held various leadership and staff positions, including helicopter pilot, aviation detachment commander, battalion adjutant, and brigade war plans officer. He received several achievement and services awards for his contributions while on active duty, including the Meritorious Service Medal.

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L to R: Bert Hensley, Anne Hoversten, Lindsey Hoesterey-VilletteZach JensenLindsay Higgins Vane

The teddy bear building took place during our bi-annual Kaizen retreat, part of our commitment to Lean Six Sigma and continuous improvement initiatives. Twice a year we bring the whole team together for a company off-site where we challenge ourselves to solve tough problems, innovate how we approach the market to better serve our clients and candidates, and brainstorm how to more effectively communicate with each other. We also take this week to form bonds that help our teams create optimal results all year.  We believe that good ideas come from everyone in our firm.

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L to R: Celine FintziBryce Raney, Rebecca BendelStacy FitzgeraldAlyssa Robinson, Todd Wyles

At Morgan Samuels we strive to be more than an executive search firm.  By fostering a culture of collaboration and service, we aim to have a positive impact on our communities along the way. 

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L to R: Martin Hewett,  Linda RebrovickAnne Hoversten

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If you or your organization would like to learn more about Operation Gratitude's Battalion Buddy Program and how you can help, click here

For more information about Morgan Samuels, click here:       VISIT US HERE!

  

Topics: morgan samuels, lean six sigma, executive search, Philanthropy, human capital consulting

Not Sure You Want the Job? Do Your Homework Anyway!

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Wed, Jul 20, 2016

It’s common advice that the key to nailing an interview for a job you want is preparation.  But what about an interview for a job you don’t necessarily want?

stocksnap_homework.jpg“Even if you’re not interested -- prepare,” says Bert Hensley, Morgan Samuels’ Chairman and CEO. After all, there may be
 an upcoming opening that is more appealing – either at this company or at another client company through the executive search firm.  “If you get good feedback from a client, then search firms will think of you again.  You have an audience beyond who’s in the room.”  

Executive search firms place candidates in two broad categories: active and passive.  Active candidates are actively seeking new employment, while passive candidates are generally happy in their current roles. 

“Passive candidates sometimes don’t prepare like they should.  There’s a perception among executives that they benefit from being coy or playing hard to get in the interview process,” Mr. Hensley says.  “In my experience, that’s not the case.”

 “Go in prepared, or you’re better off not doing it,” he advises. 

 

How to Prepare: 

  • Know Your Numbers. Be able to quantify your own performance, but also understand the performance of the company.  If the company is public, read their annual reports online. 
  • Know Their Story, and Yours. Be able to describe your career as a narrative and a journey.  How did you get where you are? What have you learned?  Also know the hiring company’s story.  Know its history and read through recent press releases to learn recent developments.  Research the professional background of the interviewer. 
  • Know the Industry. Research what trends are impacting the company, both positively and negatively.
  •  Ask Pointed Questions. Why is the position available?  What are their expectations?  What roadblocks would you face?  Are there opportunities for growth for someone in this position?  Both parties need to understand whether the placement is a good fit or it won’t last long, if you do decide you want it.

 Remember: interviewing for a job is always great practice, even if you’re not sure you’re interested in it. Look at it as an opportunity to shake the rust off your interviewing skills. That way, when you get to interview for your dream job, you’re ready to nail it.

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Click here for more career guidance and tools

Topics: executive recruiters, morgan samuels, leadership, human capital consultants, executive search firms, retained search firms, interview tips, talent

Powerful Women

Posted by Morgan Samuels on Mon, Jun 6, 2016


Morgan Samuels' own Linda Rebrovick recently moderated The Nashville Post's 2016 Most Powerful Women event. 


Named the 2011 Most Powerful Women honoree herself, Linda led a dynamic conversation among top female leaders in the technology industry. Click on the link below to read some highlights from this wide-ranging, informative conversation, which touched on multiple topics of interest to women wanting to fulfill their potential, and those who want to help them to do so. 

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The 2016 Most Powerful Women on the tech industry's growth, developing future talent and the continuing need for encouragement.


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 Want more information on Morgan Samuels?  Click here to contact Senior Client Partner and Healthcare Practice co-leader Linda Rebrovick.

Topics: morgan samuels, human capital consulting, Technology, Healthcare, C-suite, women, talent, entrepreneurship

What Makes a Great Private Equity CFO?

Posted by Todd Wyles on Mon, Nov 16, 2015

For private equity investors, ensuring they have the right CFO is widely thought to be the most critical decision they will make from a talent standpoint, second only to installing a top CEO.  

unsplash_businessman_suit2.jpgOver the past three years, nearly forty percent of all the PE-backed searches Morgan Samuels has conducted have been CFO searches.  Why is this search such a common one throughout the investment cycle?  Is there a common profile for the best CFOs?  And if there is, what are the specific attributes that are most often observed?

In an attempt to answer these questions, Morgan Samuels has captured and analyzed extensive quantitative and qualitative data from CFO searches we have conducted for PE-backed businesses ranging in size from $8M - $75M EBITDA, across multiple industries.  By culling the data collected from assessing hundreds of chief financial officers for these searches, we have identified three critical attributes of great CFOs for PE-backed companies:

  1. They all have the desire and ability to be a true partner to the CEO, both internally and externally.
  2. They have command of the levers and metrics that drive value in the business, and they play a major role in executing the strategy.
  3. They are hands on, decisive, and they have a very high sense of urgency.

Let’s look at each of these characteristics in more detail:

True Partner to the CEO

This may appear to be a relatively soft attribute and difficult to measure, but based on our experience a CFO must not only fit the culture of the portfolio company, but also the style and vision of the CEO.  And they must simultaneously focus on both the internal and external aspects of their position.

One of the reasons the CFO role is so critical to get right at a PE-backed company is that they must have the skills and ability to advance the vision and strategy of the CEO, across multiple functions. They need to be able to translate the financial impact / projected outcomes of the strategy across the organization.  This is the internal aspect of becoming a partner to the CEO. 

Additionally, they must be focused externally.  They need to manage banking relationships and ensure covenants are not broken.  They often own multiple professional service provider relationships.  Perhaps most importantly, they have to be comfortable serving two masters – both their CEO and also the Board which will typically include at least one senior member of the GP.  And when it comes time to exit, the CFO plays a major role in interfacing with potential buyers, which requires both strong presentation skills and the ability to influence buyers.

Metrics Driven

Cash is King is a trite anecdote.  But for many middle market private equity-owned companies, it is still a very relevant mindset.  Most control investments are levered such that the management team has to be extraordinarily thoughtful about how they manage cash to ensure growth (whether that be organic, or via acquisition) and liquidity.  The CFO is at the tip of the spear regarding cash management.

One CFO we recently placed at a $150M business services company recognized within about 30 days on the job that the company was going to run out of cash 60 days later!  The CEO and the Board were not as aware of this, and so the very first order of business for this CFO was to create a set of metrics/KPIs that provided visibility for cash management on a daily basis.  That is how critical managing cash can be for a midsized business, and CFOs who install systems to ensure this happens are the most successful.

Hands on and Decisive

One of the most striking differences we have observed in successful CFOs for middle market companies with private equity owners is that they truly appreciate (and accept) that resources are at a premium, and that time is of the essence. Very few CFOs in private equity enjoy the resources (both from a staff and budget perspective) that their counterparts in the marketplace have.  Similarly, they do not have nearly as much time to create value for the PE-backed business, with an exit often only a few years away.  Being willing to get their hands dirty—and do it quickly by making great decisions (often without as much information as they would like) are hallmarks of the most effective private equity CFOs.

Private Equity Practice Leader Todd WylesA private equity firm’s greatest asset lies in its people and their capabilities to deliver across a myriad of stakeholders’ expectations. Top talent that is a great fit for private equity is extraordinarily scarce across the board, and finding the right CFO is especially critical to success. We have conducted dozens of successful CFO searches for PE-backed companies over the past few years, and we have found that candidates who possess the criteria described above thrive within the unique demands of private equity.

Click here  to find out more about Morgan Samuels’ Private Equity Practice.

 

Topics: executive recruiters, morgan samuels, lean six sigma, human capital consultants, executive search firms, retained search firms, retained executive search firm, top executive search firms, Private Equity, PE, executive search, executive search consultants, Todd Wyles, CFO, executive search private equity