In August 2017, KKR Australia was announced as the winner of the hotly-contested battle to acquire Laser Clinics Australia (LCA) from The Growth Fund. As part of the pre-deal executive search process, Adrian Belle, Managing Director of Allura Partners identified and engaged Anthea Muir, a twenty-year executive from Luxottica to lead the KKR backed investment. Shortly after the deal completed, Anthea resigned to take on her first private equity CEO role.
Adrian recently sat down with Anthea over lunch at The Bridge Room to reflect and discuss her first 12 months leading LCA.
Can you give us insight into your first few months in your role leading the newly acquired investment LCA on behalf of KKR & Co?
The first 3 months were busy. The key tasks were:
1. Setting a clear short-term plan to get the team focussed
2. Recruiting the talent required to deliver the plan so that I could get the organisation structure in place and;
3. Working out how to manage the relationship with KKR, the board and LCA management. In addition, I had to learn the business and industry.
I spent a significant amount of time visiting clinics, franchisees, employees as I find this is the fastest way to get up to speed and understand the challenges and culture.
What were the biggest challenges you faced in your first 12 months and how did you overcome them?
The business had been very successful and therefore there was a culture of complacency. The leadership team whilst engaged did not make decisions or surprisingly engage on a regular basis on the business performance.
I got the leadership team together 10 days into the job. Shared with them a 1 year plan ( Plan on a Page) and talked with the team how we would go about achieving it. I gave them a week to come back to commit to actions and dates. We agreed on a communication and meeting strategy and together we developed a culture of accountability, transparency and of course reward and recognition.
A factor influencing the success of any private equity portfolio company CEO is “getting stuff done” especially in a fast paced, dynamic and demanding environment. How did you prioritise the needs of the business and “get stuff done”?
I agreed with the board and KKR a plan on a page very early in my appointment. We set targets for each milestone and weekly meet to update on the status of the priorities. This keeps the level of accountability high. I then share the summary of this each month with the board so they can see the progress on the key initiatives.
I enjoy the pressure to deliver results. It creates a great work environment, as I enjoy getting stuff done and if done well gives lots of reasons to celebrate success with my team which drives them to continue to work at that pace.
What would you describe to be the biggest differences between leading a region/country for a multi-billion dollar listed global company versus a CEO role leading a private equity backed investment?
Lack of red tape. A listed company by nature has a lot of processes and governance. Then if you are global there are even more controls in place. This creates a certain slowness and conservatism.
In contrast I am finding working for Private Equity much easier to navigate the governance as the layers are less and therefore it feels more nimble and dynamic.
What advice would you give an executive currently considering a career transition from a multi-national global to private equity?
If you enjoy working at a pace, can balance a short and a long-term view then you will enjoy it. Be prepared to act fast to get the right people around you and engage quickly with your key stakeholders. If you do all of this, then you have the ability to make a difference in a short space of time and gain a high sense of achievement.
If you are an executive currently considering a transition from corporate to a career in private equity, Allura Partners can assist. For a confidential conversation please contact Adrian Belle, Managing Director on +61 2 8821 7301 or visit www.allurapartners.com.au.