Altas Partners has named a pioneering businesswoman to the newly created position of chair.
Kathleen Taylor, the former CEO of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, took on the role this month, Managing Partner Andrew Sheiner told PE Hub Canada.
As part of the job, Taylor will provide advice and support to companies in the portfolio, Sheiner said, drawing on her more than three decades of experience as a senior executive.
“We expect Katie will be an excellent resource, sounding board and thought partner for our CEOs as they manage and grow their businesses,” he said.
The appointment builds on Taylor’s prior four years as a member of Altas’ advisory board, a role that enabled her first contributions to the portfolio.
In 2016, Taylor became a key adviser to Sue Downes, co-founder and CEO of MyEyeDr, a U.S. network of optometry and eye-care practices. Managed by Capital Vision Services, the business was acquired a year earlier by a group led by Altas and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec.
Deepening her involvement in 2017 by joining MyEyeDr’s board, Taylor supported Downes and the management team on a range of issues and initiatives, including long-term strategy, organizational effectiveness and talent acquisition.
This month, Goldman Sachs agreed to acquire MyEyeDr, reportedly for US$2.7 billion. The deal is expected to generate a return of about 3.5 x for Altas, Buyouts reported.
Joining Altas’ team is the latest milestone in Taylor’s career, which includes a record of blazing trails for women in the corporate world.
Starting out as a lawyer, Taylor was hired in 1989 by Four Seasons and over a 24-year tenure rose in the luxury hotel chain’s management ranks. In 2007, she became president and COO, and in 2010, CEO, making her one of only a few Canadian female executives to hold the top C-suite job, then and today.
Taylor broke another glass ceiling in 2014 with her appointment as chair of Royal Bank of Canada. She was the first woman to lead the board of a major bank in Canada and one of a handful to do so globally.
Taylor also serves as vice-chair of Adecco Group and as a director of Air Canada and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
Sheiner, a former senior Onex Corp executive, founded Altas in 2012. An early adopter of the long-life philosophy in private equity, the Toronto firm focuses on buying hard-to-replicate companies and holding them indefinitely.
Taylor told PE Hub Canada Altas’ strategy “resonates with me very much,” noting she has “come to appreciate first-hand” the firm’s appeal to owner-operators “seeking a thoughtful and long-term oriented partner.”
Other senior members of Altas’ team include Managing Partner Scott Werry and Partners Christopher McElhone, Paul Nicoletti, David Brent and Damon Conway.
In December, PE Hub Canada interviewed Sheiner about the firm’s investment strategy and recent deals.