We work at all levels across Private Equity from partner to entry level hires and across operating and advisory teams. We bring the same standards of rigorous referencing and meticulous process to all searches to ensure the optimum result.
Our track record in all sectors of the private equity industry demonstrates our success at working with management to start first time funds and build teams, effect transformation of size or focus and address changing needs across geographies and sectors.
In more challenging fund raising times, the importance of differentiation has become paramount in securing investors and we work closely with our clients to help them define their approach to sector, geography and product and to hire
accordingly. We have also seen an increased demand for IR and in-house fund raising professionals.
Joanne leads Blackwood’s Private Equity Practice and advises clients across private equity on all their hiring needs from entry level positions to senior management roles, including deal, IR and operating partner functions. Prior to joining Blackwood, Joanne worked at FreshMinds focusing on placing strategy consultants. She read Modern History at St Andrews University and spent a year studying History and Political Science in the US.
Blackwood’s client is one of the top pan-European private equity funds operating across Northern Europe. The firm has offices in a number of countries but had started to focus on Eastern Europe as an interesting place to find new deals with a particular focus on Poland.
Blackwood worked closely with the CEO and Head of the London office to map the Polish market and to assess what the other private equity funds had managed to achieve in the country. It is a relatively defined market with some strong local players and some majors having established offices in the region recently. A key requirement was to identify and attract someone who had a proven track record of doing deals in the region. The person needed to be able to originate as well as execute deals with limited supervision or support. They also needed to fit in culturally and be prepared to be based in London for a period of time before the decision was taken to open a local office. The process was to be managed as confidentially as possible given the gossipy nature of the market.
It was a search that looked at Polish investors across the globe, prompted by the need to find someone who had strong deal experience; there were a large number of candidates at the right level of seniority without much of a track record. It was a market that had also seen a reasonable amount of recent movement and there was also some scepticism around the appetite of the European funds to really focus on the area; some notable funds had opened and closed offices relatively quickly. It was also noted, as is the case with many senior private equity searches, that many candidates with such desired experience would likely be tied in to a current fund. We therefore also looked at senior management consultants and investment bankers. The client had been looking at the market from London for a year before this search started but wanted to really understand more about the breadth of the landscape and competition.
Blackwood appointed a mid level investor from a local fund who had very high quality deal experience. He was slightly more junior than the original brief but was an outstanding candidate. The research was completed over the summer, the successful candidate was agreed in October and Blackwood managed the candidate’s resignation post year end bonus. On resignation, the candidate received a very lucrative counter offer from his employer and Blackwood worked closely with the client to articulate the opportunity as more exciting and challenging. This candidate opened the Polish office 18 months after he joined and Blackwood have recruited three more team members for him from a variety of backgrounds. Blackwood completed full referencing throughout the process.
Shaneen works on assignments in the Private Equity and Investment Banking Practices with a particular focus on leading mid-level appointments in private equity. Prior to joining Blackwood, Shaneen worked for a disaster relief charity, focusing on fundraising. She read Politics and International Relations at Warwick University, and then spent a year studying Economic Globalisation and Development at SOAS, University of London.
Sebastian works on assignments in the Financial Services Practices. Prior to joining Blackwood, Sebastian worked at a boutique recruitment firm with a focus on distressed and special situations investment strategies. He began his career in clinical and forensic science, and additionally spent time working in investor relations for biotechnology companies. He read Biochemistry at Bristol University.
Blackwood’s client is one of the largest first time European private equity funds. We were asked by the two initial founders to help supplement their team at all levels, including identifying a third founding partner.
It was obviously pivotal that a third founding partner was someone that would work well with a team that already knew each other and that the chemistry and shared investment philosophy would be such that investors would find the appointment additive to the fund raising sell. A key requirement was to identify someone with a proven investment track record across a complimentary deal landscape. Around this first hire, we were also asked to build a team for the mid and junior level. The team was to be in place pre final close of the fund so identifying individuals with the right entrepreneurial spirit and appetite, as well as the technical skills and behavioural characteristics to work in an unhierarchical and start-up environment was paramount.
In terms of the senior role, we mapped the universe of potential candidates, many of whom were known at least by reputation to the client. We agreed the optimum point of approach in each case. The successful candidate was not previously known to the client other than by positive reputation. Building the fit was important throughout the process so we ensured the client had extremely broad references on the candidate. It was also important to do this in the reverse as the candidate was taking a major career step. Repeated meetings and interviews exploring all aspects of each other’s approach, investment and fund raising strategy, philosophy around how to build and lead a team were essential in reaching high conviction that the union would work. Simultaneously, we needed to provide a roster of high quality individuals for the broader team. Alongside this, we provided advice on compensation and team structure in order to help shape the business going forward.
Blackwood appointed a third founding and Managing Partner to the fund and three six additional team members. The founding partner was from a blue chip European large cap fund. Since then we have appointed a further three individuals at Associate through to Partner level.
Blackwood’s client is a well-known global investment business with a remit to invest across the capital structure in a broad number of sectors. The nature of the investments and the fact that the business is SEC regulated means that there is very little publicly available information about this fund. It is a business that was founded over ten years ago and has a current fund in excess of $5bn and around 50% of their investors are in Europe.
Blackwood worked closely with one of the Managing Directors to find a senior private equity investor from a traditional LBO background. The ideal candidate needed to have good deal experience but most importantly needed to have had extensive portfolio experience, ideally having worked with a business which needed extensive restructuring and probably a refinancing. The fund focuses on creditor friendly countries and therefore Northern European language skills were important with the exception of German because there was a separate German office and headcount.
There was a broad universe of candidates to be approached but because of the distressed nature of the remit there was a mixed reaction to the opportunity. Blackwood spent a reasonable amount of time educating the candidate pool about the misconceptions around the industry. There were also all of the issues around relocation for some of the Northern European candidates who didn’t want to move to London. The culture of the firm is strong and therefore finding someone to fit was important; the team is very lean and therefore someone who was able to work without a large infrastructure was important. The original brief we were given was actually more junior than the real need in the team and therefore Blackwood looked at both levels to prove that they really needed someone more senior.
Blackwood appointed an investor from one of the European large cap funds. The first short list was produced two weeks after the search was awarded but the actual completion took more time than normal because of the change in level and the need to wait for a year end resignation. Blackwood completed full referencing throughout the process.
Michela works on assignments across financial services, with a particular focus on investment banking, infrastructure and private equity. Prior to joining Blackwood, Michela worked at Heidrick & Struggles and has over 12 years’ industry experience. She read Modern Languages at Cambridge University.
Amanda is the Managing Partner of Blackwood. She advises on leadership development and assessment, team effectiveness and senior appointments across investment banking, private equity and the boardroom. Prior to Blackwood, Amanda worked at Morgan Stanley; she spent ten years in Mergers & Acquisitions in London and New York before becoming COO of the Investment Banking Division EMEA. She is a certified professional executive coach, Meyler Campbell Mastered, AC and WABC accredited and qualified with the British Psychological Society in psychometrics, including Hogan, FIRO-B, NEO PI-R, Wave, G-LJI, LJI, Implicitly®, TKI and MBTI®. She read English and then Law at Cambridge University.
Emma works on assignments across financial services with a particular emphasis on investment banking, special situations investing and real estate. Prior to joining Blackwood, Emma worked at Goldman Sachs International in equity sales. She read History of Art with Architectural History at Edinburgh University and spent a year studying at Hong Kong University.
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