The state of recruiting for private equity portfolio operations teams

In this episode of The Charles Aris Podcast, Vice President and Practice Leader Ashlee Wagner sits down with Senior Associate Practice Leader Clifton Vaughan to discuss the state of recruiting for private equity portfolio operations teams:

Listen to the full transcript below:

Ashlee: Hey, and welcome to The Charles Aris Podcast. This is Ashlee Wagner here with Clifton Vaughan. My background is I’m a vice president here at Charles Aris. I have been with the firm for the last eight years, and I lead our private equity, asset management and financial services verticals within our strategy recruiting practice.

Clifton: Hi, I’m Clifton Vaughan. I’m a senior associate practice leader here at Charles Aris helping lead our private equity recruiting practice. I spend most of my time placing current and former consultants from firms like McKinsey, Bain and BCG into roles at private equity funds; think investing roles or operating roles. 

And both Ashlee and I are typically working with firms that have a more operationally oriented investment thesis. And those firms tend to be more consultant friendly firms. That’s where we play.

Ashlee: So, what we want to talk about today is really the state of recruiting, specifically for PE portfolio ops or value-creation roles.

Clifton: Absolutely. And, you know, Ashlee, what I’ve really been seeing is the rise of private equity operations teams in this space, and the trend we’re seeing more and more is firms building out these groups. And I think really what’s driving that is, as the macro economic climate changes, and firms are doing less deals, they need stronger returns, and these teams seem to be a pretty good way to ensure that.

Ashlee: Awesome. Yep. And you know, what we typically see is that there tends to be two schools of thought for these groups, either generalists or specialists; typically a combination of both. 

Not all of these groups have specialists within their teams at this point. But what we have seen is that there are more and more specialist searches than ever. And this is a trend that we suspect will continue, particularly as these functions continue to grow and expand. When we think about what we typically are seeing most, there are four core functions where we’re seeing more specialist roles than ever. 

The first is finance and accounting. So think office of the CFO, sometimes this may include M&A as well. 

The second is particularly for firms that invest in heavy manufacturing environments, engineering, operations and supply chain. So lots of Lean Six Sigma. 

The third area is human capital or people. These are typically teams that we actually partner with quite often, whether it’s recruiting at the fund level or for portfolio companies. 

Lastly is transformation. And this is a trend we suspect will definitely continue, particularly over the next few months and/or years given the macro environment. 

So, whether you’re building or growing your portfolio ops teams and or looking to break into the space, again, we suspect these trends are going to continue to grow and we look forward to being a resource for you as that continues to happen. 

Thanks so much for listening. If you’d like to connect further, you can reach me at and you can reach Clifton at