The overwhelming response to Chris O’Dell’s news that she is retiring from CapitalWorks and taking her talents to Charlotte, NC reminds me that success in private equity, like life, is all about your people.
Chris has earned the affection and goodwill of our investors, portfolio management teams, intermediaries and advisors through a consistently cheerful, friendly and welcoming approach to our business life over the last nine years. She is our “CEO of First Impressions” and makes everyone comfortable with our firm and our values. She reflects what is important to us; integrity, fair dealing, collegiality, transparency, attention to detail and grace under pressure. She helps us succeed with our diverse constituencies by putting a friendly voice and a happy attitude to every business encounter.
When you select a manager for the private equity class, you should be looking for teams that share a common culture from the Office Manager to the Managing Partner. To be successful with investments, you need a lot more than just investment acumen and business intelligence. Your management teams have to trust you before they can fully commit to shared objectives. Intermediaries will often decide close competitions in your favor if you have a reputation for keeping your word and being fair in your dealings. Sellers will want to reinvest with you and promote successful transitions of their businesses when they see your team as being an extension of their family. And management teams will likely outperform for you when they believe you are aligned to them in strategies and outcomes.
So, while financial expertise, due diligence, financing skills, company building and exit timing are all critical to success in this asset class, the team is a first priority. When it is shaped by people like Chris O’Dell you have a great chance of winning in everything you do.
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