An Operator (also known as Operating Executive, Operating Partner) is an individual who is very talented in one field, industry, specialization, etc. They have been working in their respective field for an entire career and has been recruited to work for an investment-backed company (or companies) to drive value in ways that weren’t being realized before they joined. In layman’s terms: they get in, get sh*t done, and get out.
Operators are most commonly utilized in Private Equity due to their skillsets being valuable for growing more mature companies, as well as them not having enough challenge or incentives in their former role, of which both are plentiful within Private Equity backed companies.
Operators exist within Venture Capital as well, however, in early-stage venture capital, they take on more of a consultative role due to funding limitations. Because of this, Venture capital operating partners will typically work within a handful of companies at one time, splitting their time across each project as needed.
There is no college coursework or training material to become an Operating Executive. It takes decades of specialized industry experience to achieve the knowledge, skills, and personal network required to be an ultra-valuable operator.
Historically, simply existing as a successful magnate in your field wouldn't allow you to work for a company with hundreds of millions of investor dollars backing it. It all depended on ‘who you know’ - until now. Flywheel is the only core resource in the industry for vetted operating executives to be put in touch with roles that don’t technically exist. An operating role is filled at will, on an as-needed basis. Unless you are the Gary Vee of networking, it's better to go through Flywheel’s verification process and be put in touch with the best private equity and venture capital investors in the world.
Because the role of an operator within investment-backed companies can vary an exorbitant amount, so does the salary. Within venture capital, salaries could be $0, and all performance-based with equity, all the way up to private equity operator salaries up to $1-5million within the lower and middle markets. It is hard to estimate these salaries as they are so frequently incentivized heavily via equity, and performance bonuses, and at times, the operators will participate in the investment with their capital to ensure alignment. However, if you have the skill set required to be a true operator, just know that you will not starve.
The role of an operating partner is extremely challenging, and extremely time-consuming. There are no clearly defined expectations, but rather the firms will give a few suggestions and let you run wild since you’re the expert. Because there is an ‘end goal’ with all investment-backed companies, certain financial goals are set to ensure an attractive return on investment for all parties. This creates immense pressure for those in charge, requiring long hours, many of which are spent traveling. As most operators are in the later years of their careers, this creates a voluntary exclusion of many would-be operators who choose to spend these years with family and slowing down, rather than working like a 24-year-old investment banker.
Yes, working a hybrid role as an operating partner of a private equity or venture capital firm is possible. Fully remote will never be possible due to the amount of facetime and management (people and operations) required to create such value in such short of a period. Ten years ago, even a hybrid model was out of the question, but thanks to the past few years, it has rapidly shifted in favor of a stronger work-life balance (balance is used loosely here).
No, we have had operating partners who were brought on post-acquisition for only 6-12 months, where they were needed to “whip a department into shape” and reposition the team and operations to be ready for rapid growth. The average operating role can be with one company for a year, or if they are an essential part of the growth, over the lifecycle of the investment. Many times, if an operator is such a strong asset, they will join the investment firm and utilize their expertise on an as-needed basis across all portfolio companies.
If you have the skill set required to contribute to the massive growth of investment-backed companies and want to join our Flywheel, shoot us a message below to chat.