Meet Mergers & Acquisitions' 11 Rising Stars of Private Equity.
Ethan Liebermann led TA Associates’ investments in Aldevron and MedRisk and co-sponsored CCRM, Datix and SoftWriters. Jennifer Roach helped Yellow Wood Partners build PDC Brands and sell it to CVC Capital Partners. Liebermann and Roach are among 11 private equity investors identified as emerging leaders by Mergers & Acquisitions.
In choosing the Rising Stars of Private Equity, Mergers & Acquisitions sought full-time private equity investors whose best days are expected to be in the future. These are the folks predicted to one day play a key leadership role at their PE firm – or to be heading up their own firm. There was no specific criteria, but investing in middle-market companies and growing them had to be the focus of the candidates’ day-to-day activities. Promising candidates were likely recently promoted, or had recently launched a new endeavor. There was no age cut-off.
To help identify emerging leaders, we reached out to the industry and requested input from our readers through articles on our website, www.TheMiddleMarket.com, and in our Daily Briefing e-newsletter. The nomination process was informal, and all decisions were made by our editorial team, headed by Editor-in-Chief Mary Kathleen Flynn. There was no fee and no limit on the number of individuals recommended. The deadline for nominations was June 8.
As we spoke with dealmakers about the 11 Rising Stars, common themes emerged. All have demonstrated the ability to handle many aspects of the PE business, including: fostering trusted relationships and developing deep networks throughout the sectors they invest in; forging and/or expanding their firm’s investments in key sectors; identifying add-on acquisitions and other opportunities for portfolio companies; representing their firms well in the marketplace; and taking on leadership roles within their firms, including developing new systems and tools and training other dealmakers.
Here are Mergers & Acquisitions’ 11 Rising Stars of Private Equity:
Daniel Hopkin, Partner, Kainos Capital
John Kos, Principal, GTCR
Erik Latterell, Director, Stone Arch Capital
Ethan Liebermann, Principal, TA Associates
Jaime McKenzie, Director, Monomoy Capital
Jennifer Roach, Vice President, Yellow Wood Partners
Joseph Rondinelli, Principal, Frontenac
David Shainberg, Vice President, Balmoral
Tom Smithburg, Vice President, Shore Capital Partners
Nicholas Stone, Managing Director, Cyprium Partners
Afaf Ibraheem Warren, Senior Associate, Siris Capital
We can't wait to see what they do next!
For profiles of the Rising Stars, view the list.
Partner, Kainos Capital
“Dan proactively develops relationships,” says Kainos Capital managing partner Andrew Rosen, when asked to describe partner Daniel Hopkin’s role at the Dallas firm. “That’s what he did in the case of Kettle, and his skills have been instrumental in helping the company double in size since we purchased it.” Kainos bought Kettle Cuisine in 2015, and quickly developed a deep network within the refrigerated soup category, which led to two add-on acquisitions within the first year of Kainos’ ownership.
Kettle is just one of many investments Hopkin has worked on since he was one of the original team members when Kainos was spun out of HM Capital in 2012. He has also worked on: Bonewerks Culinarte’, Country Fresh, Fempro, InterHealth Nutraceuticals and Olde Thompson.
Hopkin received his B.A. in accounting and his Master of Professional Accountancy from Brigham Young University. He worked in the M&A department of Morgan Stanley and joined HM in 2004 as an associate and was quickly promoted to vice president. He made partner at Kainos in 2015.
“Dan’s work ethic and insights into the underlying drivers of a business are key,” says Rosen. “He has terrific instincts and a lot of runway ahead of him.”
It’s been a busy five years for John Kos, who has been spearheading GTCR’s foray into the healthcare information technology sector. Back in 2013, the firm had no healthcare IT companies in its portfolio. Today, the firm has four and has already enjoyed return of invested capital through some dividend recaps in the vertical.
Kos earned a BS in finance with highest honors from the University of Illinois. Early in his career, he worked as an analyst in the healthcare investment banking group of Citigroup Global Markets in New York. He first joined GTCR as an associate in back in 2006, then left to attend Harvard Business School, where he earned an MBA with distinction. He rejoined GTCR as a vice president in 2011. Since coming back to the Chicago firm, Kos has closed 33 M&A deals associated with 7 portfolio companies he acquired and/or oversees. He was promoted to principal in 2017.
One of the GTCR portfolio companies Kos nurtured is Cole-Parmer, a carve-out from Thermo Fisher,in a $480 million transaction in 2014. Under the firm’s ownership, Cole-Parmer, which makes test and measurement products for laboratory research, acquired six companies. It all added up to GTCR’s selling Cole-Palmer to Golden Gate Capital in 2017.
Director, Stone Arch Capital
Erik Latterell wears many hats at Stone Arch. His responsibilities include sourcing and reviewing new investment opportunities, negotiating transactions, leading financings, conducting due diligence, and working with various portfolio companies on add-on acquisitions and other strategic initiatives.
“We are a little different. We all do everything here,” says director Michael O’Neill. “Erik does a great job listening. He’s also smart, which makes him great at finding opportunities, but also seeing the challenges. He will then find the right people to help him tackle those challenges.”
Latterell first joined the Minneapolis firm as an analyst in 2007, and then rejoined in 2013 as a vice president, after graduating from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota. He was promoted to director in 2016. Prior to joining Stone Arch, Latterell was an analyst at the Minneapolis-based boutique investment bank TripleTree LLC.
At Stone Arch, Latterell has been involved with six of the private equity firm’s portfolio companies in a range of industries. He is also leading the development and execution of the company’s value creation roadmap, which has included hiring a CFO and additional support staff, as well as developing the company’s first robust reporting packages.
Principal, TA Associates
Ethan Liebermann helps lead TA Associates’ healthcare investments. He first joined the firm’s Boston office in 2007, left to get an MBA from Harvard Business School and then returned to the firm in 2012. Since then, Liebermann has earned several promotions, most recently in 2017, when he was promoted from senior vice president to principal.
Liebermann led TA’s investments in Aldevron and MedRisk and co-sponsored the firm’s investments in CCRM, Datix and SoftWriters. He was also actively involved in the firm’s investment in EviCore Healthcare. In aggregate, the deals represent approximately $800 million in committed capital.
Liebermann plays a critical role from a value-add perspective, in that he has helped promote and drive growth at the portfolio level. He has sourced and recruited three independent directors and five senior executives. Additionally, Liebermann is known for forging deep, trusting relationships with many of TA’s portfolio company executives.
In-house, Liebermann led the firm’s global associate training program from 2013 to 2016 and currently serves on the firm’s technology committee. He is also team captain for the firm’s Pan-Mass Challenge, an annual charity bicycle ride. TA and sponsors of the firm’s team have contributed more than $1.2 million to the ride over the past eight years.
Managing Director, Monomoy Capital Partners
A freshly minted managing director, Jaime McKenzie has become a vital part of Monomoy Capital Partners. McKenzie has been involved in more deals than any other professional at the firm, reports Justin Hillenbrand, co-founder of the New York firm. She has worked on everything from a traditional leveraged buyout to a complex special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). She is also the first woman at the firm to be the chair of a portfolio company.
McKenzie has become a great ambassador of the firm, presenting to investors and at management meetings. “She articulates our message very well, and it became clear we could put her in front of any audience. At just 33, she already has so much experience, which is unique,” says Hillenbrand. “She is definitely a proven leader at the firm.”
McKenzie started at Monomoy as an analyst in 2008. In addition to her outward-facing responsibilities, McKenzie takes on training and developing vice presidents, associates and senior associates at the firm.
McKenzie started as an investment banker at Bear, Stearns & Co. and moved to Monomoy after the financial crisis. There were about 12 people working at Monomoy when she joined the firm. Today, there are 40.
Vice President, Yellow Wood Partners
Since joining Yellow Wood Partners in 2014, Jennifer Roach has been “an integral part of the growth of our organization,” says principal Kevin McCafferty. “She has been a key member of our deal execution team and has overseen the customization and refinement of our primary diligence analysis tools. Jen has also cultivated our deal sourcing efforts in multiple sectors of the consumer industry and enhanced our outreach process. Most importantly, our portfolio company management teams repeatedly remind us how invaluable Jen has been with analyzing the important trends affecting their brands and product categories.”
Prior to joining Yellow Wood, Roach was a senior analyst at Analysis Group, an economic consulting firm, and worked at JP Morgan Chase & Co. in the Commercial Banking Division. She received a B.A. in Economics, cum laude, from the University of Rochester.
At Yellow Wood, Roach helped build PDC Brands into a compelling beauty and wellness platform, including working on three of the company’s add-on acquisitions. Yellow Wood sold PDC to CVC Capital Partners in 2017. Roach has also been working with Freeman Beauty, including analyzing retail placement and expansion.
June was a big month for Roach: Yellow Wood promoted her to vice president, and she got married. She is now known as Jennifer Pacini.
Joseph Rondinelli was recently promoted to principal at Frontenac, where he focuses on investments in the industrial and business services sector. He is an integral member of Chicago firm, managing more than $600 million of equity capital.
Rondinelli originally joined the firm in 2008 as an associate and became senior associate in 2010. Rondinelli was then promoted to vice president in 2014. Following the launch of Frontenac 11, earned his recent promotion to principal. His primary responsibilities include originating, sourcing, evaluating, and structuring transactions with middle market companies.
Since joining the firm, Rondinelli has evaluated more than 2,000 acquisition opportunities and successfully completed 30 transactions, totaling approximately $765 million in value. These include seven platform acquisitions, 30 add-on acquisitions and 10 refinancing or recapitalizations. He currently serves as a director and provides oversight for four of the firm’s 12 active portfolio companies including CoCreativ, GNAP LLC, La Tavola and Whitebridge Pet Brands.
Rondinelli started his career in investment banking with Citigroup Global Markets in Chicago, where he focused on mergers and acquisitions and debt and equity financings in the firm’s metals, mining, and industrial groups. He earned his MBA in 2014 from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Vice President, Balmoral Funds
David Shainberg has been working at lower middle-market private equity firm Balmoral Funds since 2012, but in the last 18 months he really began to shine.
Shainberg started his career as an investment banker with JP Morgan and then moved to Brookfield Asset Management before joining Balmoral as a senior associate in 2012.
Shainberg has increasingly sought and excelled at transaction due diligence and arranging debt financing. In the second quarter of 2018, Shainberg ran his first deal, purchasing burger chain Mooyah. He led all aspects of the deal, including due diligence and execution, front to back, stepping into board level roles, expanding business development capabilities, growing his network, and working closely with operating advisors, CEOs and industry consultants.
“David has been looking to take more of a leadership role, and it happened on this deal,” says Balmoral managing director Robin Nourmand. “Before leading this deal, he had been putting pieces of deals together, but he took the reins on this, and he did a good job soliciting feedback from us, negotiating on all points and serving as a liaison between the operating advisors and everyone else.” Today, Shainberg is responsible for finding and vetting all potential deals in the restaurant sector.
Vice President, Shore Capital Partners
Tom Smithburg is a vice president at the healthcare-focused private equity firm Shore Capital Partners. Having initially joined Chicago firm in 2011 as an associate, Smithburg was the first junior hire at the firm. He created many of the processes and tools in place at Shore today.
Smithburg has successfully completed the acquisition of two transformative add-ons for two different portfolio companies. With these transactions, Smithburg proved himself to be a skillful dealmaker and an effective deal quarterback.
Simultaneously, he led the development and implementation of Shore Capital’s proprietary De Novo Machine system, a cloud-based market planning and project management tool. This tool has proven to increase annual de novo production capacity and overall return on investment.
Currently, Smithburg is developing an investment thesis in a new healthcare sub-sector. He is expected to lead and complete a platform investment within the next two years. He is a member of the board at Hulin Health and Behavioral Innovations. Additionally, he developed and leads the CXO program at Shore Capital, helping to place talented MBA graduates into leadership roles within portfolio companies.
Smithburg graduated first in his class from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Managing Director, Cyprium Partners
In early 2017, Nicholas Stone was promoted to managing director. He leads the firm’s deal origination efforts and oversees the Chicago office. “There’s a lot of capital out there,” says managing partner Mike Conaton. “We distinguish ourselves by building a rapport with management teams. Nick is incredibly talented at doing that. There’s a trust factor he establishes with people early on, and it helps us win deals. He is able to really resonate with folks, which is critical in our business,” says Conaton. Stone’s background of growing up on a farm in Nebraska may be one reason Stone appreciates hard work and loyalty, Conaton suggests.
When Stone is not on the hunt for new deals, he is managing Cyprium’s six operating partners who help the firm evaluate various investment opportunities. Although working with very experienced professionals, Stone is able to keep them engaged and involved in every process.
Stone was a member of the investment team previously known as Key Principal Partners, which became Cyprium in 2011. Before joining KPP in 2007, he worked at Northlight Capital. He holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.
Afaf Ibraheem Warren
Senior Associate, Siris Capital
Afaf Ibraheem Warren joined Siris Capital in 2017 as an intern, while simultaneously earning her MBA from Harvard Business School with distinction. She was hired after the completion of the internship and is presently a senior associate on the firm’s investment team. Previously, Warren worked at Vance Street Capital and in the industrials investment banking group at Morgan Stanley. She holds an A.B. in Psychology from Harvard University and is a 2007 recipient of the Ron Brown Scholar Fund, which is awarded for academic performance and service and named for the late U.S. Secretary of Commerce.
“Even as an intern, she had a lot of poise, was taking on responsibility and commanding respect from portfolio companies,” says Siris co-founder Peter Berger. Today, Warren works closely with Siris’ portfolio companies and is leading diligence efforts on various investment opportunities for the firm, as well as leading some deals. “Once we buy a business, there is significant oversight and a lot to do involving strategy. Afaf is able to handle all aspects of the operation, including working with our executive partners, which is unique,” says Berger. “She is very talented. She is a strong member of our team and we have high expectations for her.”