Creating a new Leadership and Talent Strategy for New Island Capital Management

New Island was one of the most unusual client engagements we’ve taken part in. It was a winding and sometimes vexing journey of nearly four years, and, from the client perspective, it was an excellent outcome.

New Island Capital Management was an Impact Investment advisory firm with ~ $2.2 billion assets under management. The firm’s investment strategy focused on direct investment in operating companies working to advance sustainable food and agriculture, inclusive finance and real estate, and a lower carbon economy. 100% of investments were in impact.

The single client for New Island engaged OE Consulting (under our previous company banner, Schaffer&Combs) to serve three organizations, an operating foundation, the family office, and the investment arm, New Island. OE provided leadership and talent strategy as well as multiple executive searches.

An excellent outcome for the client. Starting in 2018, OE Consulting, working closely with the family office and the Investment Committee, helped New Island to create a new, high level leadership plan. This work encompassed not only the organizational design of the c-suite, but also leadership culture and governance structure. We placed several executives in the course of the next two years. When the CEO resigned at the end of 2021, OE was engaged to find a new executive leader for New Island. We immediately placed Stephen Hohenrieder as the Interim Chief Executive Officer and Chief Investment Officer. After an international search, our client determined that Stephen was the right leader to manage their assets in the longer term. Stephen, however, was already managing his own investment firm, Grounded Capital. OE worked closely with the founder of New Island to help make a crucial decision. The founder decided that their alignment with Stephen, with regard to investment strategy, performance culture, and personal ethics, was such that they would move the whole of the assets under management at New Island over to Grounded. 

The final phase of work. Once the client made their decision to trust the assets to Grounded Capital, we had seven weeks to effect this change. OE assisted in determining a talent strategy, helped to create offers to 15 employees of New Island, and with the separation of four others. This was effected as of 1 November 2022. OE is now assisting with the winding down of New Island Capital, as per the client’s wishes. 

OE remained on retainer with Grounded Capital for their startup phase, working on C-Suite design and executive placement.

From the client perspective, this was a hugely positive outcome, as attested by the Trustee’s sensibilities: ”I can say without reservation that the team at OE is exactly who they represent themselves to be and work in the way they say they do- they are a purpose driven organization whose values include a deep commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion; they are committed to first listening and understanding; they are personally involved with clients and take a hands on approach to the work; they are committed to the Key Pillars methodical and focused approach; they have a deep network developed over time based upon personal relationship building.”

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