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Interview with Traci Gentry, Partner at Perpetual: from brand marketing to executive search

Good morning, Traci. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today. Your background in brand marketing and executive search is quite impressive. Could you tell us a bit about your journey from brand marketing leadership to becoming a Partner at Perpetual, the transatlantic talent advisory firm?

Good morning, and thank you for having me. My journey has been shaped by a passion for both building successful brands and nurturing exceptional talent. My experience in brand marketing, spanning over 25 years, allowed me to deeply understand the essence of what makes a brand successful, which has a lot to do with the people and the team behind it. Throughout my career at BIC Consumer Products USA, The Hershey Company, and Reebok International, I not only led marketing and cross-functional teams, but also had the privilege of working alongside some incredible leaders and developing leaders. This experience instilled in me the importance of finding, nurturing, and retaining top-notch talent.

As my career progressed, I found myself increasingly drawn to the human side of the work of brands, which ultimately led me to my executive search and talent advisory work. The transition was driven by my realization that my understanding of brands and the people behind them could be leveraged to make a significant impact in the realm of talent acquisition and development. This led me to Perpetual, where I now partner with a breadth of organizations to drive value and growth through strategic human capital initiatives.

One of your focus areas at Perpetual is supporting private equity firms in identifying and hiring exceptional senior-level candidates. Could you walk us through how you assist these firms in this process?

Certainly. At Perpetual, we understand that the success of any investment heavily relies on the quality of leadership within portfolio companies. My role involves leveraging my experience and expertise to offer a range of services that accelerate growth and enhance value creation.

We kick off our process with human capital due diligence, utilizing Perpetual’s proprietary t3® organizational health diagnostic. The Perpetual t3 framework outlines the six attributes of organizational health, and maps out the journey toward building high-performing teams.

Our research-backed diagnostic serves as a pulse-check, evaluating an organization’s human capital against these six attributes. This approach offers a comprehensive understanding of the strengths and areas that require attention within the leadership teams. By using this quantitative diagnostic tool, we can provide investors with valuable insights, enabling them to identify opportunities for enhancing team engagement and achieving their targeted business outcomes.

In-depth assessments of executives and senior teams are another critical step. We evaluate the current quality, alignment, and effectiveness of leaders, and from there, we provide actionable insights that support executive success. This is not only about finding top talent, but also about ensuring that the leadership team is aligned and capable of driving the investment vision forward.

Lastly, accelerated onboarding and strategic alignment are vital. We assist executives and investors in clarifying responsibilities, aligning strategies, and building the relationships necessary for rapid execution of the investment vision.

Your background in brand marketing and leadership gives you a unique perspective on both client and candidate needs. How does this perspective enhance your ability to connect the right talent with the right opportunities?

My background in brand marketing has taught me the art of understanding what makes individuals and organizations unique, and how to effectively communicate and leverage those unique qualities. When working with candidates, I can gain a deep understanding of their aspirations and motivations, which allows me to find roles where they can truly thrive.

Additionally, having led high-performing teams, I understand the intricacies of team dynamics and the importance of aligning each individual’s strengths with the broader team’s goals. This helps me advise clients on building not just strong leadership teams, but also teams that work cohesively toward shared objectives.

Could you tell us about a particularly impactful engagement you’ve had where your expertise made a significant difference in identifying and placing senior-level candidates?

Absolutely. There was a recent engagement with a consumer brand portfolio company that stands out. The company was undergoing a leadership transition and needed a Chief Marketing Officer who not only had the expertise to drive the brand forward but also the ability to lead and inspire the team during this transition.

Through a comprehensive assessment process, we identified a candidate who not only had a stellar track record in brand marketing but also displayed the leadership qualities required to navigate change and foster collaboration. The candidate’s background aligned perfectly with the company’s values and growth objectives. Watching this leader integrate seamlessly into the organization and make an immediate positive impact was truly rewarding.

It’s evident that your role requires a deep understanding of both the client’s needs and the candidate’s aspirations. How do you balance these two aspects to ensure successful placements?

It’s indeed a delicate balance. I believe in a consultative approach, where I invest time in understanding both the client’s strategic goals and the candidate’s career aspirations. For me it’s about building trust and fostering open communication with both parties.

By aligning the client’s objectives with the candidate’s desires, we can create a win-win engagement. This balance is essential for long-term success – a candidate who is genuinely excited about the opportunity is motivated and dedicated to driving the company’s growth.

One last question – you’re a member of Chief, an organization for powerful women executives. How does this involvement complement your work at Perpetual?

Being part of Chief is a tremendous source of inspiration and learning. It’s a platform where accomplished women leaders come together to share experiences and insights. This exposure to diverse perspectives enhances my ability to understand and address the unique challenges that women executives might face in various industries.

This knowledge directly translates to my work at Perpetual, where diversity and inclusion are integral to building high-performing leadership teams. The insights gained from Chief help me advise clients on creating environments where all talent can thrive.

Thank you, Traci, for sharing your valuable insights and experiences with us. Your journey from brand marketing to executive search is truly remarkable, and your approach to talent advisory in the private equity space is undoubtedly making a significant impact.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my journey and perspectives. It’s an exciting space, and I’m passionate about helping private equity firms unlock the potential of exceptional talent within their portfolio companies.