Actum Private Equity Conference: panel discussion on becoming a successful Operating Partner

by | Jun 4, 2024 | News

Rob Del-Maschio, Founder & CEO of the Siena Partnership, recently chaired an enlightening panel discussion with industry experts at the Actum Private Equity Conference.

Members of the panel included:

The key takeaway?
The most successful Operating Partners need to have excellent consulting, coaching and relationship building skills. The role requires balancing a diverse stakeholder set in the portfolio companies management team alongside your own in-house deal teams.

What do we mean by relationship building?
Whether you’re working as an in-house Operating Partner or an outsourced, independent consultant, you need to be skilled at dealing with multiple stakeholders, often with conflicting interests. Strengthening your ties with everyone involved and creating your own set of champions will significantly strengthen your position and further enable you to affect positive change at the portfolio company.

So, how do you become a successful Operating Partner?
Make sure you look after your network. Successful Operating Partners need to have an external network of suppliers and should be able to help an organisation find high-quality talent, third party suppliers, industry and project experts.
Rob commented, “Maintaining good relationships with the deal team and portfolio company board can ultimately determine the deal’s success. You need to be a ‘T-shaped’ professional: someone who can listen, understand and respond to a variety of individuals with differing specialties, but also with deep knowledge in a key area related to the project, deal or industry.”

What else is important for Operating Partners?
Having particular industry or functional knowledge can be key. We’re seeing a shift in private equity firms, moving away from general consulting talent to functionally aligned talent within the operating teams. We’ve seen a trend of mid-market and large cap PE firms hiring ex-CRO, CIO, COO, CHRO, CFOs to align themselves with a portfolio company’s functional area to help add value.

Developing your personal brand
If you’re an independent consultant or even an in-house Operating Partner, developing your personal brand is crucial. What sort of work do you want to be known for and what work have you done in the past as an Operating Partner that showcases your value to clients? What is your specialist sector knowledge? Answer these questions and then start to project your knowledge and expertise through your LinkedIn profile, personal networks and demonstrable work with clients.

Since 2008, there has been constant debate on the best ways a private equity firm can create value for its portfolio companies. Since then, we’ve seen a marked shift from using financial engineering levers to create value, to an almost laser focus on improving operational effectiveness. As a result, the role of Operating Partner has become crucial for any deal or change project.

At the Siena Partnership, we work with Operating Partners on a daily basis to help them find great projects and deals to work on, nurture their networks and deliver long-term success for their clients.

If you’d like to continue the conversation with Rob, contact him here:

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