Private Equity. Corporate Leadership Alternative?


For some middle management and senior executives private equity has become a term that makes many a stomach turn and produces the occasional eye roll. The unsettling threat of potential job loss, fear of change and an unwelcome shift in company culture.

Sure, private equity firms can add value by buying a tired brand that needs revitalization. While private equity firms are widely acknowledged as data and financial wizards many firms are realizing they need more fashion industry expertise on their teams. As a result many firms are hiring industry executives to deepen their knowledge and leverage their influence. Doesn’t it seem more reasonable to accept the suggestions of one who has lived in the trenches?

Could this mean there is a new pocket of job opportunities for senior executives? I’m always eager to see where said leaders will land once departing their prestigious posts. Last week, Ron Frasch, former president and CMO of Saks Fifth Avenue, was named an operating partner at private equity firm Castanea Partners, which owns Donald J Pliner. One might consider if the grass is actually greener (no compensation pun intended).

What if you’re not in line for the CEO throne? Maybe you have no such aspirations? Could this be the new corporate leadership alternative? What splendors can a shift in perspective lend a seasoned executive? Well, probably plenty. I often hear many executives express the desire to provide a more strategic view point and have the power to truly affect change at a high level without the politics of a corporate culture. A role with a private equity firm can often fulfill a desire to steer significant change and make an impact on long term success for a brand without the quarterly pressures of Wall Street. There’s opportunity to mend management problems or brand positioning. Feeling creative?

2014 predictions indicate no signs of slowing the private equity buying binge. As the industry continues to undergo major shifts in technology and eCommerce the demand for more new jobs within firms is likely to increase.

If you don’t want to trade one brand or retailer for another, consider the private equity route. If you do, call me.

Photo Credit: Guy Bourdin for Vogue