Taking that first step into a PE backed business/PE backed SME

If you’re ambitious to take the next step in your career and are looking for a new venture, then a private equity backed business provides a range of opportunities and challenges.

It’s a fast moving, competitive world that demands excellence as well as the ability to respond imaginatively and decisively to very specific circumstances. Private equity backed ventures have raised investment to make good on their plans, but the stakes are high.

Of course, the rewards for getting it right can be considerable.

So what does it take to be a successful leader at a Private Equity backed venture, and how do you take that first step?

What PE backed businesses are looking for

Senior leaders and executives at large companies can be highly attractive candidates for private equity backed businesses. They will usually have a degree of industry and customer knowledge, leadership training and an understanding of the principles that are transferable to a PE company leadership role.

Nearly all new private equity leaders will have significant industry experience and demonstrable leadership abilities. The more senior the role you are applying for, the greater the degree of experience you will be expected to have. However, even at CEO level, it’s not completely uncommon for private equity backed businesses to appoint someone who has no direct experience of leadership in a PE backed business.

Private equity partners will look for exceptional candidates who have proven experience of managing change at their previous organisations.

What should leaders who are making the transition be aware of?

Investors expect quick results

Senior leaders from a corporate background will quickly need to adjust to a very different set of expectations than they are used to. The pace at which they are expected to deliver results will be quicker and the scale of those results will be considerably larger.

For example, if, in a previous role, a senior leader had been charged with securing growth of around three percent while keeping a lid on costs, they may now be faced with the challenge of doubling the size of the business within a couple of years.

The circumstances of every private equity backed business will of course be different, but investors will expect rapid and tangible results in a relatively short space of time.

Achieving those rapid results takes a degree of creativity, an entrepreneurial spirit as well as a sense of urgency. It’s important, however, that this is combined with a clear and actionable plan. Senior leaders at private equity backed companies are more likely to fail due to directionless over-activity so it is vital to develop streamlined and targeted strategies to reach clearly defined goals.

As a senior leader at a PE backed company, you will be required to juggle a diverse set of priorities and to be able to syncretise complex streams of information, to better inform your goal-oriented decision-making process.

A rigorous approach to financial management

While keeping tabs on business finances is an essential part of successful business leadership, at a PE backed company, this is even more important. Senior leaders at PE backed businesses will need to continually negotiate with suppliers, review, cut or streamline services, and find new ways to achieve more with less. You will need to develop ideas to diversify the business and the company’s approach to selling goods and services.

This commitment is necessary to ensure that the value of the business increases, strengthening its bottom line and increasing its attractiveness to potential owners and investors.

To find out more about how Rowan Group can help you take your first step into a PE backed business, contact our team today.