PE-CXO’s Success Stories cast a spotlight on private equity-backed operators and the tools and tactics they leverage to create real value. In each entry, a world-class executive details a practical solution to a critical business issue. To be featured, contact us with the subject line “Success Story“.

Executive: Nathan McBrayer, CFO, The Derm Group.

Challenge: Landing your first job as CFO of a private equity-backed company—and navigating the challenges that follow.

Solution: Communicating honestly and directly with both the company’s CEO and the private equity sponsor.

The private equity firm is going to want to hear candidates say that their responsibility is not only to the CEO, but to the private equity firm, too.

The Hardest Part of Becoming a PE-Backed CFO: Landing Your First Job

Most private equity firms are going to say, “We don’t have the time to train a new CFO. We want someone who has already worked in private equity.” So how do you get experience if no one will give you the job?

I already had about 20 years of CFO experience before I broke into private equity. At age 21, I started as a CFO at a small, privately-owned company and then moved on to larger organizations. But I wanted the opportunity to work in a faster-paced environment and I couldn’t find that in family-owned and privately-held organizations. I craved the opportunity to have equity “skin in the game” that would be based on my and my fellow executives’ work. 

The interview process with the PE...