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Amanda Kim, A Rising Star in the Private Equity World

An interview with Amanda Kim, Vice President at Avante Capital Partners

 

With venture capital firms largely being a “boy’s club” for years, it’s refreshing to see a woman like Amanda Kim in such a high-level position at Avante Capital Partners. As Vice President, Amanda is responsible for all aspects of the investment process. This includes sourcing, due diligence, transaction structuring, and portfolio management.

In a recent Zoom interview, Amanda explained how she ended up in the finance world, what her day-to-day looks like, and her thoughts on the current state of the industry.

“I had initially wanted to either be President of the United States or a pastor or a high school math teacher,” said Amanda with a laugh. While she didn’t end up becoming president (or any of the other things on that list), she did find herself drawn to the world of finance and investing, where she says, “I like to think that I get to employ different aspects of that in my job.”

Prior to joining Avante, Amanda worked at Goldman Sachs in the Alternative Investments & Manager Selection group. It was there that she first developed an interest in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investments, which are increasingly shaping the landscape of the finance world.

She says what surprised her was how critical soft skills, such as communication and emotional intelligence, are in the industry. “I think the first surprise is that soft skills are much more important than I would have thought,” she said.

“You spread the numbers. You have your financial observations, but when you walk into a management meeting, you don’t say, why was your business down 15% last year, and your margins got cut from 25 to 15%? This is their baby. We’re normally working on founder-owned businesses. They have invested their hopes and their dreams, and you need to have the [emotional intelligence quotient] EQ to understand that,” she added.

She says a woman can be herself and still succeed in the private equity world, but it’s essential to be aware of the challenges that come with being a minority in the industry.

“A lot of people in private equity have worked hard to get to where they are and feel like they have to be tough on the outside,” she said.

“But I’ve taken the opposite approach, where I think life is hard enough, particularly as a woman, particularly as a mom, this is not an easy industry… The last thing I want to do is spend time trying to come up with a fake persona and be tough on the outside. I’m just going to tell you what’s going on with my life, which may work for some people and may not for others. But that, to me, I think has helped. That’s just my natural inclination, but I think it has also helped in my relationship building because people can see that I’m genuine,” she added.

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
May 2022

Charles Scripps on Managing a Successful Private Equity Firm

An interview with Charles Scripps, the Managing Partner at Black Lake Capital.

Charles Scripps is the Managing Partner at Black Lake Capital, a Colorado-based private equity firm that invests in technology and innovation-enabled businesses. With over ten transactions under his belt, Charles knows what it takes to succeed in the private equity space. In a recent interview, I talked to Scripps about what makes Black Lake Capital so successful.

“It’s a big number. It’s been a lot of work,” Scripps said of the ten completed transactions since 2013, when the firm was founded. Scripps attributes the company’s success to several factors, including the quality of its team, the flexibility of its investment strategy, and the focus on value creation.

“We as a team focus on keeping that pipeline full, even when you have a deal that’s under [Letter of Intent] LOI,” he told me in a Zoom call, adding that deals can always fall through. “You’ve been doing due diligence for a month, and everything looks great. You still have to focus on the pipeline because it can die tomorrow.”

Scripps, a McKinsey and Wharton-trained investment professional with two decades of private equity and long-short hedge fund experience, said that Black Lake Capital sees nearly 500 deals a year, with only a small percentage making it to the firm’s active deal queue.

“I try to meet at least one new management team a week, hopefully, two,” he said. “And we try to keep that kind of level of engagement, even when we’re in the middle of a process. You know, hopefully, those conversations are turning into our next opportunity. It can take more than a year from when we meet that team to when we close the transaction,” he added.

Scripps placed an enormous value on his firm’s flexible investment strategy, including the ability to do substantial minority recaps that provide an exit for other investors while still allowing the company to maintain a controlling stake.

“That flexibility can be really important to sellers,” he said, explaining that it allows sellers to maintain some ownership in the business and have a vested interest in its continued success.

“We are comfortable with a lot of different structures…You just never know what’s going to happen. But being creative in terms of trying to meet the sellers’ goals of overall value while protecting our investors with a structure that doesn’t pay too much if the business performs at a low level or doesn’t hit the owner’s expectations,” he added.

While many private equity firms may have a myopic focus on financial engineering and achieving short-term gains, Scripps said that Black Lake Capital takes a more long-term view of its investments.

“We’re trying to sell ourselves as partners just as much as they’re trying to sell their business to us,” he said. “You know, what, what are we going to bring? What’s it like working with us? Everybody has horror stories about working with private equity? How can we sort of allay those fears?”

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
April 2022

Supply Chain Crisis

Supply Chain Crisis

Are we experiencing the biggest shift in supply chains since the era of globalization began?
From the US-China trade wars to the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been an existing strain on the supply chain. Now as Russia’s war on Ukraine escalates, the strain on global supply chains has intensified. Understanding how global manufacturers responded to the disturbance of their supply chain is a crucial part in helping businesses structure their responses. 

Russia’s war against Ukraine has heavily impacted supply chains around the world. According to Jennifer Bisceglie, Founder, and CEO of Interos, a supply chain risk management company nearly “300,000 companies in the U.S. and Europe have suppliers in Russia and Ukraine, putting their national economies at risk. That’s how interconnected our world is today” (Segal). In fact, some say that the manufacturing sector will be impacted the most by this supply chain disruption. Simon Gealt, the Executive Vice President and Chief Officer at supply chain consulting firm Proxima says, “It’s things like the neons and metals that are going to have an enormous effect on the production of semiconductors and automobiles” (Segal). Companies will now focus on monitoring their supply chains in order to get ahead of the next crisis. This changing landscape will lead to new strategies for alternative sourcing. Therefore, some do argue that we are now experiencing the biggest shift in supply chains since the era of globalization began. 

How will manufacturing companies respond?

Many manufacturing companies are now moving quickly to create visibility and clearance in their supply chains. Given the rapid changes in customer demand, businesses must now analyze and prepare their supply sources in advance of potential disruptions. “It’s not just a concern for big companies, but it is a concern for everyone. Now even small mid-size companies all have exposure either directly or through their suppliers,” says Lou Sokolovskiy, CEO and Founder of Opus Connect. Understanding the full supply chain and customer base, not one degree away but at least five degrees away is very important. For example, various portfolio companies may look into sourcing their parts from vendors in regions with slower demand. This will allow for a greater supply in active factories. In a 2020 survey by Mckinsey  “just over three-quarters of respondents said that they planned to improve resilience through physical changes to their supply-chain footprints. By this year, an overwhelming majority (92 percent) said that they had done so” (Trautwein). 

It is going to be critical for companies to work on alternative sourcing strategies, especially as tensions increase between Russia and Ukraine. Overall, manufacturers must think of new innovative ways to optimize production, distribution, and logistics in order to avoid supply chain issues. 

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

Sources:

  1. Alicke, Knut, et al. “How Covid-19 Is Reshaping Supply Chains.” McKinsey & Company, McKinsey & Company, 23 Feb. 2022, https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/how-covid-19-is-reshaping-supply-chains. 
  2. Miguel, Alejandro Beltran de, et al. “Private Equity and the New Reality of Coronavirus.” McKinsey & Company, McKinsey & Company, 16 Sept. 2020, https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/private-equity-and-principal-investors/our-insights/private-equity-and-the-new-reality-of-coronavirus. 
  3. Segal, Edward. “Supply Chain Crisis Worsens as Russia’s War against Ukraine Continues.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 2 Apr. 2022, https://www.forbes.com/sites/edwardsegal/2022/04/02/supply-chain-crisis-worsens-as-russias-war-against-ukraine-continues/?sh=27983c4e6e49. 

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
April 2022

Frank P. Turner, Turnaround Expert: 2022 Trends and the Covid-19 Pandemic

 

Frank P. Turner is a turnaround expert with more than three decades of experience in  commercial and investment banking. He is the managing partner at Interpeak Consulting, a New Jersey-based firm that provides turnaround services to small and medium-sized companies. In this interview, Frank shares his insights on the 2022 trends in his industry and how he believes the Covid-19 pandemic has made companies rethink their businesses.

Turner loves using anecdotes to explain his points. In a recent Zoom interview I had with him, he talked about Las Vegas’s buffet businesses to illustrate his point that many companies in 2022 will face a solvency crisis, not just a liquidity one.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, he noted, there were about 30 buffet-style restaurants in Las Vegas. That number has now dropped to five.

“What a lot of these casinos and hotels realize is that those things always lose money,” he said, explaining that the pandemic made the casinos rethink their priorities.

“You have a pandemic that forced everyone to close. And then you get to reevaluate your business and then make real assessments of what’s needed and what’s not. So, in some ways, the pandemic created some opportunities that were pretty unique for businesses to rethink their business,” he added.

Over the past two years, many businesses borrowed heavily to stay afloat during the lockdowns. This has led to an increase in corporate debt levels, even with the PPP loan forgiveness, which could cause a solvency crisis down the road, Turner said.

“The liquidity will eventually dry  up, the money that was available gets finally used; there’s going to be a question whether the business is really viable and therefore solvent,” he said.

Turner expects that in 2022 access to capital will continue for companies that managed to raise money during the pandemic even though the debt levels are high and interest rates are low.

“It may be more expensive, just because base rates will be higher,” he said, adding that the prevalent view among investors is that risk is not adequately priced in the market. Turner believes this risk/return tradeoff will seek a balance.

In respect to investors seeking higher returns, Turner cautioned on the various structured vehicles created to synthetically create yield.  “People who  are investing in these  structures aren’t necessarily getting compensated for the risk they believe they are  taking. But we’ve kind of seen this before, where you start yield chasing,, and depending on the structure of the fund, the yield never develops.” he said.

“I think, if anything, maybe 2022 could be a year, where maybe the profile between risk and return starts heading back to a more traditional normal state. It’s not going to happen overnight. It will happen over many quarters, but maybe the high watermark will  have been reached sometime in 2022. And then people will start evaluating their investments and whether they’re getting compensated appropriately,” he added.

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
April 2022

Three Tips from a Leading M&A Expert on Selling Your Business

An interview with Sharon Heaton, CEO of sbLiftOff, a lower mid-market M&A advisory firm.

 

Sharon Heaton is a leading expert in the traditionally male dominated M&A industry. As the CEO of sbLiftOff, she has more than thirty years of experience in M&A and banking. Her experience also includes time as a lawyer, business executive, and senior Senate staff member.

Heaton has been dubbed one of the “50 Most Influential Women in M&A” by BDO, and she is a well-known national thought leader on mid-market acquisitions. I recently spoke with her about the growing M&A market and what businesses can do to prepare for a potential transaction.

It’s “a seller’s market” she said of the current boom caused by record-low interest rates and high valuations. Heaton offered three critical pieces of advice for business owners who are considering selling their company:

Try Not to Get Emotionally Attached

Emotional attachment is something that Heaton sees happen time and time again. Business owners spend years, sometimes decades, building up their company. They can be understandably attached to it and have a hard time letting go, or feel insulted if an offer comes in that is lower than they think it should be.

“Every company has challenges,” she told me via Zoom. “Sometimes business owners have a hard time seeing the challenges of their company and kind of get their ego hurt when a buyer comes in [and starts pointing out some of the challenges].”

She added that sellers must try to see their business from the buyer’s perspective. “Why is it a good idea for them to buy your company? What can they do with it? And you know, it’s got to be a good transaction, not only for the seller but for the buyer as well.”

Buyers Don’t Like Sudden Upticks

Heaton also warned business owners against expecting a “hockey stick” graph when it comes to the sale of their company.

“Don’t count on the hockey stick,” she said, “don’t count on I’m going to keep my revenues pretty much flat for three or four years. And then I’m going to jump them and jump my profitability in the year before I go to market. And then somebody will pay me on that hockey stick. Buyers don’t like hockey sticks. And they question whether or not that’s going to be repeated.”

Instead, Heaton used a baseball analogy for sellers to keep in mind: “It’s a little bit like when Babe Ruth hit a home run and basically went up to the plate and said, ‘I’m going to hit it over there,’ and then knocked it to exactly that place. If we can basically have sellers who are identifying, ‘we’re going to be at this level in two years and this level in three years.’ And then they do that. That is an incredibly solid story.”

Buyers Need a Path to Growth

If you want to sell your business for top dollar, Heaton said, it’s crucial for sellers to at least have a vision of where they want to take the company in the years ahead. Having a clear vision, she said, allows M&A advisors like herself to create a story for buyers that outlines how they can grow the company.

“It’s very important to buyers, who are paying a multiple of EBITDA for the seller, that the seller understands that the buyer is giving away profits for the next several years, they need to see a path to growth because otherwise, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Sellers are often in a better situation to help buyers see where the growth can come from,” she said.

Heaton’s years of experience and national prominence have made her a go-to authority on M&A. When it comes to selling your business, following her advice could help you get the best possible outcome.

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
March 2022

Meet the Woman Driving IMB Partners’ Successful Business Development with Empathy and Resilience

An interview with Farrah Holder, Managing Director at IMB Partners, a lower-middle-market PE firm in Bethesda, Maryland.

 

If you’re looking for someone who knows how to drive success in business development and marketing, Farrah Holder is your woman. As a Managing Director at IMB Partners, a lower-middle-market private equity firm in Bethesda, Maryland, Holder has spearheaded the company’s marketing and business development initiatives for more than six years.

During that time, IMB Partners has invested in and helped grow several businesses in various industries, including utility services, food, IT services, and cyber security.

Holder’s background is just as diverse as the companies she works with. She was born in Guyana and moved to the United States when she was six. Her family was evacuated by the US military during a time of political turmoil in Grenada more than two decades ago.

Holder’s success can be attributed to her interest in understanding people and their motivations, as well as her innate ability to build relationships.

“I’m genuinely interested in people,” she told me in a recent Zoom interview. “And I think I’ve always been this way, my whole life.”

As the only child in her family, Holder learned how to navigate and connect with people of all backgrounds at an early age. This has served her well in her professional career, where she’s had to develop relationships with potential clients, partners, and employees.

“I had to show a lot of resilience,” she said.

“We were now an immigrant family here, and I went to seven schools by the time I was in sixth grade. I had to easily learn how to navigate different groups all the time, different people, and quickly learn ‘how am I going to make friends in this new situation?'” she added.

She explained that as a child, she learned, for example, that sports and activities were a common interest that could help her connect with others. From cheerleading, track, and basketball to lip sync contests, plays, and choir, Holder can draw a straight line between her extroversion and involvement in school to her market-facing role today. However, she doesn’t want to discount the impact her father, a tech entrepreneur, had on her path to private equity. Her father bought the business he worked for and, eventually, sold it to a strategic buyer.

“He and the CFO orchestrated a management buyout,” she said, referring to a US-based technology firm that belonged to a European conglomerate. She explained that she saw her father work hard to pivot the business to new markets, grow the service offerings, and build successful teams globally.

“When I am sitting across the table from the family-owned businesses that we talk to today, I always feel a connection to them. I’m not the entrepreneur, but I know the gravity of what a pending transaction could mean to their families and potentially what it means to them because I watched my father go through it,” she said.

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
March 2022

From Asset Manager to Business Development Fundraiser: The Journey of Bill Bymel

 

You may know Bill Bymel as a successful real estate investor or author of “Win-Win Revolution.” But did you know he’s also a powerhouse fundraiser? Bymel’s journey into the world of business development fundraising is not one you hear about every day. He started his career in real estate, flipping homes in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. From there, he became a managing director at Spurs Capital, a New York-based investment management firm focused on residential mortgage loans.

But last year, Bymel decided to make a more significant career change and establish First Lien Capital, a private equity firm investing in the nonperforming and sub-performing mortgage space.

How was his journey from asset manager to business development fundraiser? I recently had an opportunity to speak with him and find out.

“The switch from being an investor, asset manager, portfolio manager to a business development fundraiser has been a jarring experience,” he told me in a Zoom call.

“It’s like speaking a different language,” he added, explaining that while asset managers dictate what they buy, fundraisers need to read the tea leaves and try to divine what a potential investor might want or need.

“As an investment fundraiser, you are really an employee of the investment community. And our job is to answer to their needs. I spend a lot of my time taking the successes of our fund, and trying to translate that into returns, telling the story to investors, and then catering to what the investor’s needs [and] expectations are,” he added.

What Lessons has he Learned?

Bymel has learned a great deal in his time as a fundraiser, but two lessons stand out, he said.

The first is being “consistent” and not rushing things. “You’re never going to raise a million or $10 million on your first meeting,” he said before adding that there might be a 0.1% chance of that happening.

“The capital raising is a relationship business that takes time. And many of my investors this year are people that I met four or five years ago and who I’ve nurtured relationships with kept apprised of what I’m doing and my successes in my existing investments,” he added.

The second lesson is the willingness to walk away from a potential deal if it’s not the right fit for your investors or the company.

“Asking the questions to know is this the right investor for you? I’ve also had to be willing to walk away from offers. I’ve had a lot of money offered to me, that just whether it’s too expensive or the deal comes with catches, so to speak, being willing to say no, to some of the offers that are offered to you,” he said.

What About his Book? Has it Helped?

Though it has not been a New York Times best-seller, or at least not yet, Bymel’s book, “Win-Win Revolution: An Insider’s Guide To Investing In the Secondary Mortgage Market,” has been well-received by the industry. It has nearly three dozen five-star reviews on Amazon.

“It works on so many levels,” he said, explaining how it has helped establish his credibility with potential investors. And writing a book is more than just a vanity project.

“It’s the best time and money ever spent because it’s a legacy,” he said. “It’ll never go away. It’s not just a calling card, but it’s a legacy. It’s something that your family will say, Oh my God, we had a father, a grandfather that wrote a book, even if it’s corny. Even if it was only business-oriented.”

Tell us what you think on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter! @opusconnect.

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
February 2022

From Endowment to Wealth Management: The Mindset Shifts of Peter Newman

 

Peter Newman, the president and founder of Peak Wealth Planning, has seen it all in the world of finance. After spending nearly two decades working in endowment investments, he switched to wealth management in 2014 and never looked back.

Leaving a stable, well-paying job in endowment investments was a big decision, but it was one that Peter felt compelled to make. And the reason was more than just the allure of making more money.

“There’s a lot easier ways to make money than being a wealth manager or living,” Newman told me recently in a Zoom call.

“The relationships you have with people and finding out later that they think you did a good job, and you help them solve an issue and gave them peace of mind or help them save time or found them that banker they needed to get a real estate deal done that they didn’t know about. That feedback is the reward,” he added.

Newman’s journey from the endowment to wealth management wasn’t without its challenges. He outlined three fundamental mindset shifts that he had to make to succeed in this new field.

Shift #1: From Being Reactive to Proactive

In the world of endowment, you are constantly reacting to what the market is doing. You have managers buying and selling stocks and bonds, trying to outperform a benchmark. Or, you shift your asset allocation to earn more on cash or to outperform your peers.

“The biggest mindset change I had to make was that you’re moving from a reactionary role to a proactive, trusted advisor role,” he said, explaining how his new role involves anticipating the needs of his clients and helping them plan for the future.

Shift #2: Every Family is Unique

When working in endowment, you invest in a particular asset class to achieve a specific goal. For example, you might be investing in venture capital to help support a university’s research initiatives. That is what Newman did at the University of Illinois, where he helped grow the endowment from $250 million to more than $700 million, according to his LinkedIn profile.

However, when you’re a wealth manager, you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. “The second mindset shift you have to make is [that] every family is different,” he said. “And what it means to be a trusted adviser to a private equity family might be different for a second generation real estate family. There are also commonalities. Being adaptable, flexible and willing to continue learning, as a financial advisor, I have found to be really important.”

Shift #3: From Organizations to People

When you’re working in endowment, your focus is on the organization you represent. You’re not necessarily thinking about the individual people who will be impacted by your decisions. But as a wealth manager, you are constantly thinking about the people who are your clients.

“This is a really personal business,” he said. “If you’re doing wealth management for families, you’re sitting across the table from a husband and wife, and the most important thing they’ve accomplished in their life is what you are talking about.”

“So, some of the conversations I have with people are: what’s your philosophy on money? What are your family’s core values? And oftentimes, they don’t question this level of engagement. But once in a while, I have to explain that I’m asking all these personal questions so I can put myself in their shoes and deliver the most relevant planning advice.” He added.

If you are interested in learning more about Peak Wealth Planning, LLC check out Peter’s website www.peakwealthplanning.com

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
January 2022

How the Pandemic Transformed HR Function for Private Equity Firms

 

In 2020, when the Covid-19 virus turned into a pandemic, the business world had to adapt quickly. Companies of all sizes were forced to let their employees work from home as a temporary solution. As the pandemic dragged on, it became clear that remote work was not just a provisional fix but a new way of working.

For private equity firms and their portfolio companies, which had long relied on in-office workforces and face-to-face interactions to conduct due diligence and evaluate company performance, the switch to remote work meant a transformation in how they did HR, according to several private equity HR executives interviewed for this article.

In many ways, the pandemic elevated HR from a back-office function into a strategic role in private equity firms.

“We are thinking about HR or Human Capital in a new way at Southfield” Tim Lewis, Partner at Southfield Capital told me.  “10 years ago it was a back office function required for compliance and benefits.  Now a thoughtful and engaged HR function is a strategic necessity and the range of activities our HR execs are asked to address has expanded from functioning during a pandemic to addressing new ways to think about the workplace.”

“It’s a whole new game today,” Keith Swenson, longtime HR executive and operating partner at New York-based consulting firm Beckway, told me in a Zoom call.

“For most organizations, they have to press the reset button because the conditions in the market have changed. The expectations of workers have changed. Based upon being remote versus in office, the expectations of new people coming into the organization have changed as a result of that,” he added.

Time for a New HR Playbook?

With the business world moving to a distributed workforce, HR needs new tools and processes. It appears that the old ones just won’t cut it anymore. Swenson, for example, whose company leverages leading B2B commercial products, said HR executives like him had to rethink the way they attract, evaluate, and retain talent.

“Companies are finding themselves having to rethink their whole strategy around people on how they supervise, how they motivate, how they pay,” he said, adding that he has observed some organizations lose key personnel as a result of the pandemic.

Retaining talent has been a significant challenge for companies across industries. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4.5 million workers, or 3% of the country’s workforce, quit their jobs in November, intensifying the mass resignations that began in early 2021.

Experts say one of the reasons for the mass exodus is the ability of employees to work remotely. Except for certain jobs that cannot be done from home, such as those in the medical and construction industries, most positions appear to be doable with a computer and internet connection. At least, that is what workers think, and employers have been forced to accept.

“There is a war on talent,” said Lisa Rivoli, the executive vice president of Human Resources for New York-based Milrose Consultants a Southfield Capital portfolio company.  “We have to look to retain the talent we have. We are exploring ways of improving our benefit offering and maybe offering a continuous, flexible workweek,” she added.

For HR professionals like Rivoli, the pandemic has meant a shift in the way they do their jobs. No longer can they rely on face-to-face meetings with employees to get a sense of their work performance. They now have to find other ways, such as video conferencing and employee surveys, to gauge how people are performing.

“It’s gotten a lot harder because you can’t just get up and go down the hallway anymore,” she said. “You have to make all these phone calls. And sometimes, you know, people are on the phone, you can’t reach them… I literally have two phones. Two phones are going off. My computers are going off. My house phone might ring. So it’s a lot.”

Attracting New Talent: A Challenge to be Courted

In addition to retaining your best and brightest, attracting talent has also become a challenge for HR professionals. To lure the best talent, Forbes reports, many firms are now offering sign-on bonuses and other perks, such as paid vacation days and tuition reimbursement.

The appeal of remote work is one that PE portfolio companies might have to grapple with for the foreseeable future, including those companies that cannot embrace it because of the nature of their business. American Refrigeration Company (ARC) a Southfield Capital portfolio company based in New England is one such company.

“Finding people during COVID has been the biggest challenge,” said Mary Fairbairn, the company’s Director of Human Resources.

For example, she said as an essential business it remains a struggle to find project managers to oversee product installations for manufacturing plants or ice-skating rinks as those jobs require people to be on site. There is no way an installation can be done remotely – we need people onsite. This problem could become more acute as the pandemic drags on and new Covid-19 variants continue to emerge.

To Fairbairn, remote work has also meant “a mindset shift” for her department as it tries to retain and recruit talent.

“I think it’s shifted our mindset, from something that has to be well defined, to something that’s a little bit ambiguous,” she said, explaining how employees’ personal lives are now a greater factor when it comes to things like scheduling.

“Also, a lot of people have children. We try to be a little bit more flexible when it comes to someone that has child care, or if their child is sick, of course, we’re always very nice about it.”

“A Candidate’s Market”

And nowadays, when people apply for a job, their goal might not be to get hired by the company, but rather to use the offer as a bargaining chip for a better position or more money at their current company, said Rivoli.

“They may want to use your offer to bring it back to their current employer to see if they can gain a better compensation package where they are. So, we’ve had that with people ghost us and then at the ninth hour, tried to negotiate real hard on compensation after they already knew what the compensation package was,” she said.

In light of this reality, Recruitor.com has made six wide-ranging recruiting projections for 2022, including the notion that “remote work is the new normal.”

“It’s a candidate’s market,” said Recruiter.com CEO Evan Sohn. “The talented candidates are in high demand. And if they’re demanding hybrid or remote workforces, the companies have to adjust to those workforces.”

Adam Miller, the founder, and managing partner of Hygge Capital Partners, a human capital solution for the private equity industry and their portfolio companies, says the need for human capital within the PE space has never been greater.

“Now, all firms are rushing to the plate to hire HR professionals to help them,” he said. “They think proactively through each one of these components to make sure that they’re creating a competitive advantage in the market when they’re out telling their story marketing their brand.”

Miller’s views about HR’s function being about “creating value” align with those leading HR scholars such as Dave Ulrich. Often referred to as the “father of modern HR” for his pioneering work on human capital, Ulrich recently said that the time had come to “reinvent” HR.

“HR is not about HR,” he told Geeks, Geezers & Googlization podcast on December 30. “HR is about helping your organization compete and succeed in the marketplace.”

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
January 2022

How Creativity Helps Kristina Walsh Thrive in Finance

 

Kristina Walsh is Co-Head of Consumer and Retail Investment Banking at Young America Capital, a New York-based FINRA/SEC-registered broker-dealer/Investment Bank. She has a long and illustrious career in senior management roles in the hedge fund and financial services industries, having spent nearly two decades on Wall Street.

Kristina is not your typical Investment Banker. Kristina’s career has been built on her background in psychology, a degree she obtained from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She says her psychology background has provided invaluable insights to her career as an Investment Banker and Executive. In particular, Kristina says, the “creative” side of psychology has helped her think “outside the box” when it comes to finding clients and solutions for them.

In terms of strategic relationships, she said her background in psychology has allowed her to identify potential partners who may not have initially been on her radar.

“I think, in structuring deals and finding potential investors, for my clients, it’s not always the ones that check the box or that would be obvious.,” she said.

Creativity also played a role ten years ago, when Kristina and one of her colleagues started a women’s family office lunch series, which she has kept ever since. The lunches are a way to bring together successful women from various backgrounds and industries to share their experiences and advice. They try to meet every month or two to talk about everything from work-life balance to the challenges and opportunities of being a woman in business.

“It’s all about sharing ideas, friendly suggestions and introductions. I think the lunches have really created a foundation of trust and sincerity in actively wanting to help each other thrive,” she said.

 

By Lou Sokolovskiy, Founder & CEO at Opus Connect
January 2022