Riverside hires education veteran

The mid-market firm has hired education veteran Bob Bowen as senior advisor as part of an expansion in education and training.

The Riverside Company has hired education and training veteran Bob Bowen as a senior advisor to help the mid-market firm identify and grow investments in the sector.

Bowen joins Riverside from Scientific Learning Corporation, where he was serving as chairman. Bowen is the former chief executive officer of the company. He also has served as president of enterprise software business National Computer System Education and McGraw-Hill, where he spent 16 years in various senior leadership positions. Bowen began his career in education as a high school teacher.

“Small- to mid-level companies [in the sector] are looking for ways to find capital and find assistance in getting to the next growth level,” Bowen told PEO in an interview.

Bob Bowen

Changes in markets in developing countries, combined with evolving technology, make it imperative for companies that provide education and training to be “up to date and current in their approach”, Bowen said. “Higher education is extremely important in all areas of the world, those things are creating an enormous demand and need for change. This is a great, fertile market for private equity.”

Riverside has completed about 20 transactions in the education and training sector, but is looking to enhance its specialisation in the space, according to Stewart Kohl, co-CEO of Riverside.

“This is a process of going deeper … it’s not just hiring one person, but making a significant commitment of resources of the firm on a worldwide basis to make us a more meaningful buyer and owner of these kinds of businesses,” Kohl said.

In January, Riverside exited one of its education investments – ATI, which provides diplomas and degree programmes for skilled labour positions in various fields – selling the company to BC Partners for an undisclosed amount.

Riverside has already expanded its operations in the healthcare arena and has completed 40 deals in the sector. In the healthcare space, Riverside hired long-time veteran Harvey Sigelbaum in 2008 as a senior advisor to the healthcare team.

Both healthcare and education and training are industries that “are big enough to matter … that are growing … and where innovation matters, so smaller companies can survive, thrive and outperform, and that’s what we’re looking for”, Kohl said.