HGGC hiring, promotions herald fundraise 

Rich Lawson

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.

On the senior side in this latest hiring wave the firm added three more operating partners to its affiliated Operational Resource Group. They are Ankit Dhawan, Rich Gros and Matt Witherell. It also promoted Neil White to partner after 10 years spent with the firm.

Further down the ranks HGGC greeted its latest crop of six pre-MBA investment associates. Chairman, CEO and Co-founder Rich Lawson (pictured above) described them as having a “nice mix” of backgrounds in consulting and investment banking. Most associates stay two or three years before going to business school, he said; many return to partner-track positions.

For those worried that the HGGC hiring ship has sailed, don’t be discouraged. Lawson said that his fellow co-founder, President Steve Young, plans to host a recruiting event next month in mid-town.

Like other buyout shops with a steady appetite for associates, the firm starts recruiting professionals from two-year investment banking programs almost the moment they begin them. Any readers interested in attending next month’s event should contact Operations Coordinator Nicole Ongko and tell her you read it here. More about HGGC:

Strategy: HGGC pursues buy-and-builds across seven sectors–business services, financial services, industrial services, information services, software, healthcare and consumer. Since its founding in 2007 the firm has deployed some $5.6 billion in companies that employ more than 64,000 people.

Pre-MBA Associate Life: No one should be surprised that a firm co-founded by an NFL Hall of Famer emphasizes teamwork–or that the four-person deal teams are run by two senior-level deal “quarterbacks.” More surprising: Associates get tossed right onto the gridiron from the get-go. Each deal team includes an associate who gets involved in any aspect of the transaction, from developing investment themes to sitting in on weekly investment committee meetings to participating in board meetings.

Corporate Culture: HGGC prides itself on promoting from within, and Lawson can rattle off the names of several partners who started as associates before earning MBAs and returning to the firm. “It’s all very organic on the investment team side,” said Lawson. Young said the firm has a “flat organization” that discourages credit-taking. “Attribution is the bane of private equity,” he said. “Excellence is what we’re going to concentrate on. We’re not going to have fiefdoms with moats around them.” Work-life balance is a priority: the firm offers 30 out-of-office days a year, four four-day weekends, and it lets employees work remotely during holiday weeks to spend more time with family.

Perks and pay: Young and Lawson both host staff dinners once a year at their respective homes–Young around Christmas-time and Lawson during the summer. The firm sponsors trips for employees that are part vacation, part charity fundraisers, such as a celebrity ski race earlier this year in Snowbird, Utah. Lawson said that the firm aims to provide “top-quartile” base salary, bonus and benefits, such as opportunities to co-invest.

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