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How to Select Executives

Predictive Validity and Utility

Using the methodology that I have researched, developed, tested, and validated at the University of Chicago and in my practice,[i] I have been assessing senior executives for public and privately held firms for 20 years. I have assessed over 450 corporate executives and over 50 partners at private equity firms. I know what makes motivates and impedes business leaders and especially what it takes to make it in the world of private equity.

My assessments have a documented predictive validity of 98%. That means that over all of the situations in which I’ve assessed executives and made recommendations, in 98% of cases, the client who observes the executive’s subsequent performance says that my analysis and conclusions capture the key elements of the person’s performance and of the challenges of working with that person.

In an assessment, I learn what conscious and unconscious characteristics make the person succeed or fail – not just whether he succeeded in the past. I come to understand how he approaches and manages (well or poorly) key relationships, and the challenges in how he leads that he will have to overcome, work around, or have other people work. When a private equity sponsor has me assess a CEO as part of due diligence, pre- or post-close, then I become a uniquely capable resource for also monitoring and coaching the company’s most valuable human capital.


[i] In research funded by the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, I led the first systematic effort to identify in advance individuals with the psychological resources needed to be successful business leaders. This research established the ability of measures of active coping to predict leadership beyond conventional standards of chance occurrence among already high-achieving leaders (Pratch & Jacobowitz, 1996, 1997, 1998). Subsequently, we conducted the first-ever empirical study into the personality characteristics of successful CEOs of private equity-funded ventures (Pratch & Jacobowitz, 2004) and have continued to refine our predictive model through ongoing empirical research in the field (e.g., Pratch & Jacobowitz, 2007, 2008, 2010).

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