On the anniversary of 9/11 this week I had the opportunity to talk to Air Force veteran Ryan Brown, who served in the Iraq War, about his goal of building a private-equity business.
“I am on the entrepreneurship journey and my mission is to create jobs for veterans by way of buying and building a portfolio of companies,” Brown wrote me earlier this summer in introducing himself via LinkedIn. “It’s a very ambitious goal, but I know it’s possible.”
When I caught up by phone with Brown on Wednesday, he was in Orlando looking to meet up with hospitality executives at the Hilton Americas Owner Conference. Hospitality is one of the services sectors that he has his eye on to buy businesses in through his firm, Patriot Investment Partners. Brown, who’s active in ACG, recruiting businesses in the Melbourne, Florida area, also works as a turnaround management consultant.
Below is more about Brown, who shares my predilection for bullet points, from a written Q&A lightly edited:
An annual one-day summit for women in finance looking to learn leadership skills and advance more quickly in their careers is itself getting a big promotion.
With the introduction of Groundbreakers | RISE, the Toigo Foundation is giving women on both the GP and LP side of the industry the opportunity to participate in a year-long training and mentorship program.
The program is open to “rising women leaders” with seven to 10 years of experience in finance, and participants get nominated by their firms to join. Individual private-equity firms or teams within global shops can nominate up to two women for each class of students. Among the main components of the program:
* A three-day conference devoted to leadership assessments and goal-setting this December in Austin, Texas;
* Quarterly regional sessions;
* Webinars for building on quantitative skills;
* Coaching by members of the Private Equity Women Investor Network, an association of experienced, successful women in private equity that is one of three “launch partners” of the RISE program.
Tuition is $7,500, and students or their firm must pay for travel and lodging. Along with PEWIN, the two other launch partners are Clearlake Capital Group and the Kwanza Jones & José E. Feliciano SUPERCHARGED Initiative.
Reach the Toigo Foundation to learn more at 510-763-5771.
Hiring, promotions and fundraising often go hand in hand in hand in private equity. Such is the case with Palo Alto, California-based HGGC.
Yesterday the prolific deal-maker–over the last two and a half years the firm has acquired 10 platform companies and more than 50 add-ons–said it had hired 12 new professionals across both operations and investing. That brings its headcount to close to 70. It also promoted four.
The build-up comes as HGGC gears up to raise a fourth fund likely to eclipse $2 billion in size–a healthy notch up from the $1.84 billion the firm speedily raised just under three years ago. Earlier this year, following an investment by Dyal Capital Partners, the firm announced five new hires and 10 promotions.
Fresh on the heels of closing a $1.56 billion fund, New York City-based Palladium Equity Partners is “opportunistically” looking to hire a mid-level professional–a senior associate, vice president or principal, according to Dale Pescatore, vice president.
Candidates with expertise in health care, services or industrials–three of Palladium Equity’s target industries–would be particularly desirable. The 22-year-old firm, which acquires family-run, mid-sized businesses, many of them serving the Hispanic population, also values employees with a variety of backgrounds.
“I do feel that as a female minority in our industry that I have an obligation to elevate women [and minorities] in all fields and industries,” said Suzanne Yoon, founder and managing partner at Chicago-based Kinzie Capital.
And Yoon said that it’s not just diversity in gender and race that she’s after in building her private-equity firm. It’s also diversity in age, experience, ways of thinking. “I know that diversity produces good results,” she said.
Private Equity Women Investor Network plans to expand Project Pinklight–an accelerator program designed to help women launch their own private equity funds. The program addresses an appalling lack of diversity among founding partners.
From beachheads in New York City and San Francisco, where participating firms have closed on a total of some $300 million, the organization plans to roll out the program to Los Angeles and London, Kelly Williams, PEWIN founding chair, told PECW.
In each of its regional headquarters PEWIN expects to usher three to four firms through the accelerator every year, said Williams.
Research by consulting firm McKinsey & Co suggests that companies perform best when they have women represented on their boards and in senior management. So it’s perhaps not surprising that fresh research suggests a similar phenomena in private equity.
Speaking last evening at the National Arts Club in New York City, Oliver Gottschalg, professor at HEC Paris, presented research from his business school and from placement agent MVision suggesting that deals approved by diverse investment committees at buyout firms–those with at least one woman member–significantly outperform those approved by all-male investment committees.
“People don’t realize that one of the greatest gifts you can have in life is being an outsider,” said South African comedian, author, and political commentator Trevor Noah to a packed ballroom in New York City last Thursday night, June 13.
“When you’re an outsider you acknowledge that the world you’re existing in is not your own,” said Noah. “You understand that you are trying to get to something that belongs to someone else. You are the other. And when you’re the other you become comfortable…”
Noah added: “When you’re an insider, few things are more terrifying than being threatened with being an outsider. You feel as though people are taking away something from you. You feel like you’re losing your grip on being part of.”
José E. Feliciano, co-founder and managing partner of Clearlake Capital Group, announced a $500,000 gift to the Toigo Foundation, made jointly by his firm and by the Kwanza Jones & José E. Feliciano Supercharged Initiative.
Feliciano disclosed the gift last night during a short but rousing speech at the Toigo Foundation’s annual gala in New York City during which he challenged the industry to do more to fulfill the foundation’s mission of bringing more diversity to financial services.
“I’m a firm believer that financial success, financial prowess, investment judgment doesn’t have a color, doesn’t have a religion, doesn’t have a gender, doesn’t have a sexual preference,” Feliciano told a packed house in the ballroom of Cipriani Wall Street. “Investment judgment is color-blind and gender-neutral.” Attendees pledged at least another $394,000 during the event via text message.
The Riverside Company has been one of my favorite firms ever since I interviewed a co-founder for a profile in The Private Equity Analyst newsletter over a decade ago. That the firm invites me to its annual media breakfast has further endeared them to me. We reporters appreciate free food.
I recently caught up with the director of global talent management at The Riverside Company, Adam Miller. We talked about the firm’s hiring plans, training opportunities, and what kind of employees tend to fit in there.