Off-duty: ICG’s Alan Jones on Romanée-Conti, his third-grade teacher and Desert Island discs

Jones tells us about his early plans for a career in medicine, his love of teaching and the importance of being a sponge.

Alan Jones, ICG

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

As a young man, Alan Jones, ICG’s head of North American private investment, wanted to become a doctor. This intended career path was diverted when as a biochemistry student he discovered he could no longer afford to go to college.

Instead, Jones was offered a position at Credit Suisse First Boston, prompting his question, “What’s an investment banker?” The job, however, provided an “eye-opening experience in a world I didn’t know,” he told Buyouts.

After time spent at Credit Suisse, Harvard Business School and eventually Morgan Stanley, private equity was a “natural move,” he said. At Morgan Stanley, he was in 2007 tasked with rebuilding the alternatives business, starting with private equity – efforts that resulted in today’s Morgan Stanley Capital Partners.

Because of this track record, Jones was hired by ICG in 2019 to build out its North American direct private equity franchise, which invests from the UK-based parent organization’s balance sheet. ICG’s entire North American strategies total $26 billion.

Outside of work, Jones volunteers for a host of education-oriented causes, including teaching private equity to students at Columbia Business School.

Where is your hometown?

I currently live in Manhattan but grew up in Clark, New Jersey, where my father worked in a General Motors factory.

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

I love what I do, so this is tough.

I was a biochemistry major in college and had planned to go to medical school, but my father lost his job my sophomore year of college, so we couldn’t afford it. Happily, I lucked into a summer job on Wall Street that paid exactly enough to cover a year’s tuition, room and board (it was a simpler time).

The easy answer is I would be a doctor, but I really don’t think I would like that, at least not as a clinician. I think I would most enjoy doing medical research or teaching. I love to teach – I guest lecture at Columbia Business School to scratch that itch.

How do you relax when you’re not working?

Reading, listening to music, going to the theater, watching movies, playing piano, working out, hanging out and learning from my family, collecting wine and art – and volunteering in the hopes of having helped to leave the world a bit better than I found it.

What book are you reading right now?

The Bill of Obligations by Richard Haass, although I usually have four or five going at any given time.

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

Really tough! My tastes in music are quite eclectic. I love jazz, rock, classical and opera. My favorite artist, song, and album depend on the day (and the time of day)! Desert Island discs would include Bach’s Brandenburgs, any Beatles or Stones album, any song sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Diana Krall and any song played by Oscar Peterson.

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

Romanée-Conti from France’s Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.

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

London, where I lived in the 1990s, or my weekend place in Pound Ridge in New York’s Westchester County.

Who in your career do you regard as a mentor?

I am fortunate to have had many great mentors!

Top of the list: Mary Anne Walsh, my third-grade teacher, who, now an executive coach, continues to mentor me. She took me under her wing in third grade, a few years after my mother died. Close second: her husband Jim, who was my first boss in that first summer on Wall Street. Trained as a physicist, he became an extraordinary global financier.

Professionally, what was your toughest moment?

Any of a series of large layoffs when I had to let talented people go.

What was your most rewarding moment?

Every time I get to promote any professional I have hired.

What PE buzz words or jargon do you hate most?


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

Be a sponge – ask questions all the time to ensure that you are always, always on a steep learning curve.

What word or phrase best describes you?