HIEC Private Equity Series, Part III: The most in-demand positions in Private Equity and skills these Executives need – by Ed Fanshawe

Within Private Equity Funds we are seeing an increasing tendency to internalise functions such as talent, technology, data and digital and Go-To-Market/Pricing. Although there is yet to be a universal operating model, we are also seeing a move towards more operating partners and advisory boards, including senior sustainability roles which are empowered to drive the agenda across fund and portfolio as Limited Partners (LPs) demand more genuine results and leadership.

CFOs in constant demand

Within portfolio businesses, CFOs are constantly in demand with c.70% changing during the life of the portfolio business ownership. Given our tech and digital pedigree, there is an ever-growing demand for world class CEOs capable of professionalising and growing businesses at pace and on an international scale.

The rise of sector agnosticism

Several other themes are also emerging, including the selection of a truly transformational but sector agnostic CEO and pairing them with a Chair who may have the required sector expertise.  There is increasing fluidity of executives between PE and corporate roles, which may reflect the growth in private equity outstripping established sector executives, but it also extends back to corporate with ‘big tech’ able to attract and retain incredible talent through compensation packages that are both high and often perceived to carry less risk.

Skill gaps for CDO & CPO positions

Finally, I would highlight the rise of the Chief Data Officer and Chief Product Officer. The skills gap for these roles is very evident in Europe especially, with the centre of excellence still very much in the US and, on the data side, also now in Asia-Pacific with significant investment in infrastructure and skills in AI/Machine learning becoming evident. We are asked on a regular basis to assist both with finding the right people for these roles and also support with structuring the teams and reporting lines to ensure an effective organizational structure.

When considering the core skills required there are two that are often overlooked and are critical to the success of a role, Tenacity and Emotional Intelligence – Empathy. The ability to lead with compassion, purpose and absolute clarity of direction… is a hard act to follow!

If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article, please feel free to contact Ed Fanshawe directly.