Manoel Rebello; Will Moynahan
Private Equity Practice
Private equity, venture capital
Private equity is a special space. When we look for leaders in PE we want impatient people, executives who will respond to the challenge to deliver results without excuse, while carefully measuring the risk.
Two good examples are Plínio Villares Musetti in Brazil, who initially joined JP Morgan Partners, and Paul Fletcher at Actis in the UK.
“It was way out of my comfort zone," Plinio told us in a recent meeting. "But I did it for the challenge - and because the risk-reward equation made sense. Switching costs were low. I was 48 so could try it for three or four years and then go back to the corporate world with a richer business experience if I didn't like it."
As head of an elevator business in Brazil, Plínio had been used to the trappings of office, large staff and a car and driver. He went from there to join the small team at JP Morgan, running his ruler over acquisition targets and then driving their turnaround strategies. He later ran one of the businesses, a Bi-oriented polypropylene film manufacturer.
“My first reaction when approached for the role was ‘No - I am not in the finance business, I'm more an operational guy.’ But in fact they wanted to blend my operational skills with their financial knowledge in a truly entrepreneurial way,” Plínio says. "Instead of a team of 5,000, I had a team of five. But they were the right five and they were high-performance people. It was stimulating and rewarding.”
Paul Fletcher, now a senior partner with the PE firm, Actis, is another PE classic. Earlier in his career, Paul left his job as a commodities trader in London to head off to corporate finance roles in Tokyo, then New York, before returning to London and a more traditional role.
But even as he settled into the position of head of emerging markets with Citibank, he could not resist the lure of an upcoming opportunity with the company in the east African country of Kenya.
There, he not only learned more about running a business, but importantly, how to operate cross-culturally.
Paul came to another fork in the road when he left a safe Citibank job and joined the United Kingdom government-owned private equity firm CDC with the attitude of, “Let's learn a new industry, let’s privatize government investment in new businesses.”
When we look for PE execs, we study:
- The company within an industry
- The executive within the company, team challenges, peers, reporting chain and
- The executive within the role, how they will respond to the challenges in the organization.
We look for a series of qualities and competencies which are drawn out in our interview process. We want impatience, but not attention deficit disorder personalities. In other words, top guns rather than loose cannons!