Executive Capital Partners Career Agent Private Equity

The New York Times

Elaine S. Silver

Even the explosion of entrepreneurship born of the technology boom has agents in hot pursuit.  Joe Meissner, a San Francisco- and Portland-Oregon based executive agent works with a client list of high-level executives.  Mr. Meissner and his firm, Executive Capital Partners®, don't find new jobs for their CEO clients, they build companies around them.

Bill Templeton, former CEO of The Money Store, left his former employer after 26 years, shortly after it was acquired by First Union in 1998.  He wanted to start something new, but thought he had too limited a network of contacts to try it on his own.  "You are so entrenched in one company that you don't have the opportunity to spread your wings and explore new platforms," he said.  To remedy that, he signed on with Mr. Meissner.

After an assessment, Mr. Meissner helped Mr. Templeton package his accomplishments and develop a strategy and a campaign for leveraging his successful track record.  "It's good to get an expert's objective opinion about what your strengths and options are," Mr. Templeton said.  "Joe also provides me with a refreshing energy."  Mr. Templeton and Mr. Meissner are on an East Coast road show that Mr. Meissner organized, meeting with private equity investors and with leveraged buyout groups in order to find a financial partner that matches well with Mr. Templeton's abilities.  Mr. Templeton will pay Mr. Meissner a five-figure retainer for his services, plus equity in his new deal, but said it is worth it: "He is the bridge from the old world to the new world for me."

An executive, like Mr. Templeton, with a coveted background may have no trouble finding a better deal or a fresh challenge.  But few have much time and the contacts to flesh out their next moves.  So career agents, like Joe Meissner, are plunging in to help.  In fields where agents have long been common, like sports, entertainment and the arts, the athlete, singer or author pays the agent's fees and the agent's sole duty is to the client.  The new class of executive agents, like Mr. Meissner, are no different.  One thing that executive agents are not is executive recruiters.  Executive recruiters represent the companies that are hiring, not the executive, although it is a popular misconception that recruiters do represent executives.

Cast of Players

EXECUTIVE AGENTS - Formerly common only in sports, entertainment and the arts, a few agents now represent people in other professions, lining up assignments, planning career strategy and sometimes handing negotiations.  Agents are hired and paid by the represented employee (usually based upon a flat fee or percentage of earnings).

CAREER COACHES - These are counselors who help their clients with assessments, planning career goals and polishing job seeking and networking skills.  They are generally not involved proactively in helping their clients land new positions and are usually paid by the hour for their services.

OUTPLACEMENT CONSULTANTS - They are hired by companies to help laid-off employees find new jobs.  Offer services like those of career coaches.

STAFFING AGENCIES - These firms advertise openings and screen candidates on employers' behalf for permanent or temporary jobs.  They are generally paid by the employer.  Some specialize in technical fields or short-term executive assignments.

EXECUTIVE RECRUITERS - Generally paid by companies to fill openings.  They may be paid a flat fee or a contingent fee based upon salary of the position.

JOB WEBSITES- These databases of job openings and resumes help match workers and assignments.

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