2021 in Review – Top 5 Articles in the ON Community

Dec 20, 2021

DEI, Supply Chain, Private Equity Among Hot Topics of the Year

Of the dozens of articles we’ve posted and shared over the past year with our ON community of executive leaders, the following five pieces stand out as the most read of 2021. Clearly, the topics that resonated most with our ON community often mirrored what we in the larger global community have been experiencing: a racial reckoning and a crisis in the US supply chain.

Beyond those critical issues, articles that were most widely read focused on key executive roles in private equity and the rapid growth of the clean tech sector.

See below for our top 5 list along with summaries of each article.


#1: 2021 DEI Report from the ON Community


Diversity 2021 Report Summary

As a values-driven executive search firm, we believe a better experience starts with a more diverse experience. We understand that our role in placing senior executives and board members is an important driver of organizational change. As part of ON Partners’ commitment to building more diverse organizations, we wanted to actively listen to our community of leaders and executive influencers to understand what actions they are taking, where the challenges are, and how they have progressed in their DEI journey.

Throughout the year, ON shared the results of its ongoing, “always-on”, diversity survey, sharing highlights of findings around initiatives that are underway, where the barriers are and who in our community is admired for their DEI initiatives and progress. We encourage you to complete the survey if you haven’t already done so.

We also introduced our DEI Video Series, recognizing organizations and leaders in our community that have made great strides in building diverse leadership teams.

For a summary from our ON community and our executive search partners on overall 2021 DEI progress and what can be expected in DEI initiatives across leadership teams moving into 2022, download the report here.


#2: Pandemic and Holidays Shine Light on Critical need for Supply Chain Talent


supply chain

ON supply chain and consumer experts weighed in on the state of the supply chain crisis and the senior executive’s organizations need to hire to navigate through it.

Positions that companies are seeking to fill include AI/ML talent who understand the power and potential of automation and companies are also focused on replacing weak links exposed during the pandemic with functional experts who bring deep long-standing relationships to the table.

Beyond getting supply chain focus right, retailers that are poised to win are those focused on delivering on an outstanding customer experience from dream and shop to delivery. This means creating a dialogue with clients throughout the shopping and delivery process to ensure that customers’ expectations are aligned with what the retailer can deliver so there are no surprises.

For more insights from our executive search consultants on what to expect in supply chain moving forward into 2022, read our latest forecast on the top 10 executive roles in the new year.

#3: Where are the Executive Jobs in Private Equity?

private equity

With valuations higher than ever and competition for deals intense, bringing the right executive to the team to unlock a brand’s potential has never been more critical, especially as the demand for leadership talent increases moving into 2022. ON consultants offer observations and insights on the executive jobs in demand, the types of leaders that can help PE-backed companies win, and a look ahead at 2022.

Hot executive jobs for PE-backed companies include product and digital leaders, CEOs and CFOs, CHROs and operating partners. To differentiate themselves, PE firms are increasingly hiring specialists such as sales leaders, sales ops leaders and CTOs, focusing more on the operational aspects of running portfolio companies.

As PE firms continue to expand their portfolios moving into 2022, building executive leadership teams with the strongest mix of experience remains of paramount importance.

For more insights into the PE talent market, view ON’s contribution to the Hunt Scanlon Global Private Equity Talent Leadership Report here.

#4: Behind the Scenes with Operating Partners

Operating Partner

While the operating partner (OP) role is typically a step before retirement given the level of experience needed, operating partners tell ON consultants they’re working harder now than ever before, balancing the role of coach with being deep in the weeds of three or four companies in a hyper-competitive environment.

OPs noted that the culture of the PE firm must embrace an operating partner, treating him or her like a personal trainer versus an interpreter. “Having an honest dialogue to share best practices and mistakes they’ve learned is hard but good for CEOs,” said one.

ON consultants also pointed out that operating partners can be an interesting way to build more diverse boards. When a PE firm hires an OP, he or she is likely to serve on several boards, so hiring a diverse candidate as an OP therefore intrinsically creates several increasingly diverse boards.

Read more insights from our executive search consultants into the OP role here.

#5: Sustainability and Clean Tech Meet the “Perfect Storm” as Sector Surges

Clean Tech

In 2021, ON Partners was named by human capital market research firm Hunt Scanlon’s roundup of the top 25 most prominent executive search firms serving the Clean Tech & Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) sectors.

ON Partners’ managing partner Tim Conti was featured in Hunt Scanlon’s report on the sector’s surging growth in 2021, noting, “The CEO and CFO-level roles have been ON Partners’ biggest focus for searches across the sector. With the market potential, several companies have chosen to upgrade the CEO, attempting to boost strategic thinking in order to create a differentiated positioning for the company. And, with financing often serving as the foundation for these companies, the CFO role is now (and has been) critical to a company’s ability to capitalize on market opportunities.”

View the full report from market research firm Hunt Scanlon on the clean tech and sustainability sector surge here.

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About ON Partners

Since 2006, ON Partners is the only pure-play executive search firm building diverse C-level and board leadership teams. We rebuilt the institution of executive search for the way you work. Our approach includes present partners who engage with their clients from the first brief to the final decision, individually crafted solutions that are unique to each client, and an easier experience all around. Named by Forbes as one of America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms and to the Inc. 500/5000 Lists nine times, ON Partners is consistently ranked among the top 20 retained executive search firms in the U.S.

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