The role of investor relations manager is becoming increasingly vital for private equity firms and their portfolio companies. Enter Smooch Repovich Rosenberg, who runs executive search and strategic consulting firm SmoochUnplugged in Los Angeles. With deep experience and a strategic mindset, she is helping usher in a new generation of IROs that can guide her clients, many of them in private equity, from pre-IPO to success in the public markets.
May 19, 2022 – Not so long ago veteran executive recruiter Smooch Repovitch Rosenburg came to her latest client, a global technology company, with a pool of candidates for a key investor relations position that had now been narrowed down to three finalists. One prospect had not yet served as an IRO, but was ready to transition; another had significant experience in global management consulting before moving into investor relations; and the third candidate was head of the IR. Throughout the search process, the CFO favored the third candidate because this person represented the “easy choice”. But Ms. Repovich Rosenberg pushed back. “I remember saying to him, ‘Really? Is that why you want to hire? I wanted to remind him that the easy choice is not always the right one.
The recruiter urged his client to take a closer look at the second candidate. This person may seem like an odd choice, she said, but has actually brought something completely different to investor relations. As time went on, the client wisely took his advice and chose candidate #2. that thinks holistically – most search firms just want to find someone. which will fit in the box of the organization chart. To which Ms Repovich Rosenberg replied, “That’s just not who I am.”
For the uninformed, Ms. Repovich Rosenberg is the founder and CEO—or, as she puts it, the chief innovator of talent management solutions—of Los Angeles-based SmoochUnplugged LLC, which she launched on last year. With her distinctive nickname and decades of executive search experience in investor relations and communications, most recently at two globally recognized search consultancies, Ms. Repovich Rosenberg offers her private equity and corporate clients searches for investor relations and communications managers, as well as strategic advisory services. His company’s portfolio spans clients across all industries and sectors of a public company’s journey, from pre-IPO to mega-cap entities.
Filling a Critical Void in PE
When Mrs. Repovich Rosenberg designed SmoochUnplugged, she wanted to create a contemporary, forward-thinking company that would fill the void in the search industry when it came to recruiting IROs and CCOs. The investor relations manager, in particular, is becoming one of the most critical positions in the private equity industry, she says, and the demand for this position will only grow in the years to come.
“I have intentionally spent a lot of time over the past two years building relationships with private equity firms,” Ms. Repovich Rosenberg said. “It’s an area that I’m really interested in, because of our specialty and focus in finding investor relations officers, and after spending that time, it’s clear we can add value and help private equity firms with their portfolio companies quite easily.”
Spotlight: Redefining the Research Industry for PE Leaders
Smooch Repovich Rosenberg is the founder and CEO of Smooch Unplugged. She focuses on advising on the search for strategic investor relations officers in the private equity space to help companies realize their
valuations of holding companies as these entities consider entering the public markets. His 30+ years working with pre-IPO companies across all industry sectors is one of the most unique search consultancy strategies on the market. Working with portfolio companies of private equity firms and other pre-IPO companies in North America, Europe and Asia has been an asset to her as an expert in financial markets and in-depth research work and extensive investor relations officers that she and her team lead. .
Ms. Repovich Rosenberg recently sat down with Hunt Scanlon Media to discuss her approach to finding top PE talent and how her company works with clients. Click on here to read the full interview.
What makes his company unique aside from his focus is that SmoochUnplugged invests heavily in his own talent. “Everyone in my firm has a very proactive approach to getting to know talent both broadly and in depth in terms of their own backgrounds, so when we do a search we don’t make cold calls. “said Ms. Repovitch Rosenberg. “We reach out to people we’ve had relationships with for years, so we already know what their career aspirations are and the talent and experience they bring. It’s very easy for us to build a panel of tightly scripted candidates, each of whom can stand out. Since we specialize in this niche, we know the people and we only deal with the top 20% talent in the world because that’s what our clients expect from us and that’s the caliber of candidates who we like to work with. she added.
From every perspective, like the person who won the role of IRO for the global tech client she cited, Ms. Repovich Rosenberg wants what she calls a “corporate athlete,” a term she claims to have. invented. “When looking to hire, I strongly believe that clients shouldn’t be looking to hire a purist for the job, because then you only get one skill set,” she said. “A corporate athlete is someone who brings business acumen to the role in addition to necessary skills. This way they can weigh in on a wide variety of topics for the company and act as a neutral advisor to the CEO and CFO.
The corporate athlete mindset has become a cornerstone of SmoochUnplugged and something Repovich Rosenberg says she and her team bring to every search. “Having experiences in different industries — like management consulting, for example — gives candidates the ability to do so much more than just one thing,” she said. “When I place someone, I’m always looking to do more than just fill a box or defend the easy choice. I’m looking for what’s next, what’s good for my candidate and my client, and what will help them in the years to come. »
While a number of Ms. Repovich Rosenberg’s investments in the PE space go through traditional processes – a private equity firm contacts a company seeking an IRO, Ms. Repovich Rosenberg meets with the company and, the more often they team up to find the right fit – others go through a more hands-on, personal approach.
The process begins when private equity firms refer SmoochUnplugged directly to a portfolio company, and Ms. Repovich Rosenberg then works closely with the company’s CEO or CFO as an advisor as they begin to consider to enter the company on the public markets. Throughout this process, Ms. Repovich Rosenberg acts as a sounding board for company management throughout the process, even before it is decided whether the company will go public or hire an IRO.
“In this second category of research, I really become an advisor more than anything,” said Ms. Repovich Rosenberg. “I am able to answer questions about the importance of an IRO to the investment community and to the business internally and find out exactly what the business needs. I can really help the company and bring my expertise throughout the process.
Ms. Repovich Rosenberg describes herself as a maverick and she has modeled her business along the same lines. “I always believed that research could be done differently,” she said. “I don’t think it’s transactional work. There must be an investment on the part of the search consultant, not only to answer the client’s questions, but more so to nurture the candidates to help them make informed decisions and defend their own.
Related: Private equity firms are investing in increasing their talent game
Ms. Repovich Rosenberg prides herself on being a direct shooter. Having worked in the industry for over three decades, she has considerable experience working with a wide range of clients and knows what works and what doesn’t. “I believe my ability to share my perspective with clients makes me different,” she said. “My role is not to stick a round peg in a square hole and say it’s okay; my role is to help minimize the risk of recruiting human capital and influencing a client in the decision-making process.
A two-way street
Ms. Repovich Rosenberg pointed to the fact that CFOs only hire one or two IROs during their career. So when the time comes, they want her expertise, and she’s happy to comply. When Ms. Repovich Rosenberg begins an IRO search, she reminds her clients to have an open mind and encourages them to prioritize a candidate’s intangible leadership qualities over paper or technical skills.
“At the end of the day, the technical skills to do the job well are table stakes,” she said. “In my opinion, success lies in aligning a candidate’s intangible leadership qualities and cultural fit with the client’s management team. It’s a two-way street where the candidate can achieve their next best career step and my clients can see the success of their assessment and their relationship with the investment community.
Ms. Repovich Rosenberg said the intelligence of the candidates makes her confident that even without the technical background, they will find their place in an IRO role fairly quickly.
For clients, hiring someone without specific experience can be overwhelming, but Ms. Repovich Rosenberg is confident in her ability to help clients come to terms with her fit prioritization. “The research process should be and is a learning process for clients,” she said. “It’s really interesting: a client can start at point A, and I know they have to land at point D, and 9.9 times out of 10 they arrive at point D and think, ‘Wow, how did we us?” It’s because they were actively listening and they were smart about the decisions they were making. And I can only get them there because I have a credible voice with them.
Related: Private Equity Recruitment and What It Takes to Find the Right Candidates
Contributed by Jonah Charlton, Editor; Scott A. Scanlon, editor; Dale M. Zupsansky, editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media