Building a Board for a Private Equity Portfolio Company: Who Makes the Cut?

New report from WomenCorporateDirectors explores what PE firms look for in directors

With the “buy to sell” nature of private equity placing special demands on portfolio company boards, PE firms look for distinct factors in recruiting new directors, says a new report from WomenCorporateDirectors (WCD) and Vinson & Elkins LLP.  “As private equity-backed company boards take a very active role in strategic targets and execution under clear timetables, they need directors who can mobilize around these priorities,” explains Susan C. Keating, CEO of WCD. Kapila Anand, lead director of WCD and director at Extended Stay America, Inc. and ESH Hospitality, adds that “operating and strategy experience, transformation or complex problem-solving experience, digital skills, cybersecurity, and other evolving technology skills are in high demand at PE portfolio companies.”

In “Building a High-Performing Private Equity Portfolio Company Board,” the latest board briefing from WCD, experts in governance and private equity discuss the skills, experience, and backgrounds PE firms are seeking and specific tips for potential candidates to position themselves best for a board seat.

“Diversity in the boardroom has been a hot topic in recent years,” says Maritza Okata, Partner, Mergers & Acquisitions and Private Equity, Vinson & Elkins LLP. “While the PE sector has been largely insulated from public scrutiny compared to their publicly traded counterparts, there is growing recognition among PE firms that best practice includes embracing diversity in their board ranks.”

Drawn from panelist discussions at the WCD Global Institute, the briefing participants include:

  • Kapila Anand – Director, Extended Stay America, Inc. and ESH Hospitality; Retired Partner and Senior Advisor, KPMG; WCD Chapter Chair and Lead Director,WCD Foundation
  • Andrea Nunes – Managing Director, Portfolio Talent at Centerbridge Partners
  • Maritza Okata – Partner, Mergers & Acquisitions and Private Equity, Vinson & Elkins LLP
  • Gabriela Perez – Partner, NextGen Ventures
  • Christine St. Clare – Director, Fibrocell Science, Inc. and AquaBounty Technologies, Inc.; former Director, Polymer Group, Inc.; WCD Chapter Chair

Previous board briefings in the series from WCD includes:

For more information about WomenCorporateDirectors Foundation and WCD programs for directors, please contact Suzanne Oaks Brownstein or Trang Mar of Temin and Company at 212-588-8788 or  

About WomenCorporateDirectors Education and Development Foundation, Inc.

The WomenCorporateDirectors Education and Development Foundation, Inc. (WCD Foundation) is the only global membership organization and community of women corporate directors. A 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, the WCD Foundation has 80 chapters around the world. The aggregate market capitalization of public companies on whose boards WCD Foundation members serve is over $8 trillion. In addition, WCD Foundation members serve on numerous boards of large private and family-run companies globally. For more information visit or follow us on Twitter @WomenCorpDirs, #WCDboards.


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