The GA Network: “Two Degrees of Separation”
by Marija Perisa, GA Network Manager
For over three decades, General Atlantic has built and nurtured relationships worldwide that have resulted in significant new business, key executives hired and access to experienced advisors. This network is global in reach, broad in sector coverage and widely reaches accomplished talent. Providing access to the GA Network is one of the most important elements of Value-Add that we bring to our portfolio companies. This year, we have worked on making access to our network even simpler, more effective and quantifiable. Frigyes Karinthy introduced the famous concept of "six degrees of separation," the idea that any two people can be connected in six steps or fewer. GA's expansive network, with more than 35,000 business connections, redefines this concept to "two degrees of separation."
The GA Network consists of the collective professional connections of GA's employees, advisors and portfolio companies. During 2012 we added over 9,000 contacts through which we now reach more than 12,000 companies. Our focus is not only on the size of our network but on providing accessibility and interconnectivity to people within the network. Most importantly, this is a firm-wide effort in which GA employees and portfolio company contacts are encouraged to extend their relationships across the firm and across the portfolio.
Our portfolio companies request access to our global network for several reasons:
1. New Business: Introductions to potential clients, strategic partners or key influencers; enhancements to existing relationships and accounts
2. Talent: Access to C-level or board talent for direct recruiting or referrals
3. Advisors: Connections to experienced advisors across the advisory spectrum from banks and law firms to specialized consulting firms
4. Vendors: Relationships with providers of products or services for increased attention/efficiency
During the last six months, the Resources Group has worked on developing ways to better leverage our network and make it more effective. While our investment professionals and advisors have always facilitated (and continue to facilitate) introductions, the Resources Group seized the opportunity to create a central unit that can access connections across the board in order to create a firm-wide network. We now have a point person, a ‘Network Manager' to whom requests can be submitted directly and with whom one can follow-up. The GA Network Manager is dedicated to finding, tracking and executing introductions. We have found this to be a value creator and competitive differentiator.
Our ability to track all of our introductions has meant that we can measure the value of our networking efforts over time. For example, in just the last six months:
- Our portfolio companies have closed $140 million worth of new business where we facilitated introductions or strengthened existing relationships.
- 10 C-level executives have been hired within the portfolio through the GA Network.
- We have received over 100 specific requests not including pipelines, and facilitated more than 60 high-level introductions.
- We hosted CHRO, CTO/CIO and CFO gatherings, offering a forum to our portfolio companies where they can share their best practices, discuss industry standards and make connections.
One of our goals is to make our global network simple and easy to access. We are happy to work with specific connection requests, entire pipelines or provide strategic recommendations. Once we receive a request, we work on identifying the key person who has the best connection and then act as a liaison to facilitate the introduction. Recently, we received a request from one of our portfolio companies for a connection to a pharmaceutical company. Based on an earlier request regarding the same company, we had already identified the GA point person and quickly made an introduction to the Chairman. In this case, the introduction led to $4 million in new business. Similar examples abound.
Our expansive network also includes talent which has facilitated numerous executive team hires for our portfolio companies throughout the years. One recent example involved a rapidly growing financial services company that was looking for a new Chief Operating Officer as well as a Chief Human Resources Officer. Within our talent pool we had several candidates who fit each profile and presented them to the company. In this case, both positions were filled by individuals directly recommended and introduced by GA.
Six months into this new endeavor, the pace of incoming requests accelerated and we improved our internal process of making introductions. Looking forward, we are excited to leverage the network for all of our portfolio companies and continue to mobilize and grow our global network for their, and our, continued success.
Contact our Resources Group or Marija Perisa for more information on leveraging the GA Network.