Off-duty: Apollo’s Matt Nord on Led Zeppelin, Wordle and outbidding Warren Buffett

Nord shares with us his fantasy job as an architect (or city planner), his tequila collection and why the journey is more important than the destination.

Matt Nord, Apollo Global Management

Buyouts’ Off-duty provides a snapshot of top investors, including a few details about what they do when not chasing deals.

Apollo Global Management’s Matt Nord says he was “one of those kids who had a sense of what he wanted to do early.” Studying private equity at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and working with market clients as a Salomon Smith Barney investment banker, he found himself drawn to Apollo because “it resonated with me.”

Hired by the firm in 2003, Nord rose in the ranks, eventually becoming a partner leading deals in technology, healthcare and business services. In 2019, he and David Sambur were appointed co-heads of Apollo’s flagship private equity business.

One of Nord’s favorite deals is the take-private buyout of Tech Data, wrapped up in 2020 at $6 billion after Apollo thwarted a rival bid by Warren Buffett.

Living in New York with his wife, Nord is active outside of work as a board member at Montefiore Health System and the University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design.

Last year, he also joined the board of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Foundation owing to a passion for music, especially 1970s rock & roll.

Where is your hometown?                                                                   

Valley Stream, New York (Long Island).

If you weren’t in PE, what job would you like to have?

Architect or city planner.

How do you relax when you’re not working?

I’ll usually do a crossword puzzle but, admittedly, I’m a big fan of word games in general. I start my day with coffee and Wordle. I am also a very amateur golfer.

What book are you reading right now?

I recently finished Scale: The Universal Laws of Life, Growth, and Death in Organisms, Cities and Companies, by Geoffrey West. Now I’m choosing between Unscripted: The Epic Battle for a Media Empire and the Redstone Family Legacy, by James Stewart and Rachel Abrams, and a biography of Mel Brooks.

What is your favorite song, album, performer or music genre?

Led Zeppelin. I’m on the board of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Music is a passion of mine.

What is your favorite meal, recipe, cocktail or bottle of wine?

I’ve started to curate a collection of different tequilas. Otherwise, I have a pretty simple palate.

What is your favorite place for a vacation, sanctuary or a place to explore? 

I’m happy any time my wife and I can go to a beach.

Who in your career do you regard as a mentor?

My colleagues at Apollo, co-president Scott Kleinman and partner Marc Becker. They have helped me to become a better investor and a better person. I could never thank them enough.

Professionally, what was your toughest moment?

The early days of the pandemic. We needed to take care of our team at Apollo, our employees at our portfolio companies and provide real-time, transparent feedback to our investors. The physical separation made all of this harder, especially since it was so difficult to know what each person was going through in their personal lives.

What was your most rewarding moment?

Years ago, I would have cited a successful investment. Now, I would say I enjoy the journey much more than focusing on a particular destination. I work with brilliant and interesting people, and many of my closest friends are people I met professionally. Those relationships are very meaningful to me.

What PE buzz words or jargon do you hate most?

Any time I think someone is using jargon as a substitute for substance.

What advice would you give a young person interested in a PE career?

Invest in relationships, they grow exponentially. Never sacrifice your reputation. And take a long-term perspective – that will help you ride out the highs and the lows.

What word or phrase best describes you?