Off-duty: Ignacio Jayanti on action thrillers, Pink Floyd vs Steely Dan and recreating Corsair

Early on, Corsair's CEO decided that instead of occupying the role of 'adviser on things being fixed,' he wanted to be 'the investor doing the fixing.'

Ignacio Jayanti, Corsair

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

Ignacio Jayanti, chief executive of Corsair, knew he wanted a private equity career while working at his first job in Credit Suisse First Boston’s financial institutions group.

“I had a first-row seat advising on operational and financial issues that caused problems for financial institutions,” Jayanti said. He soon decided that instead of occupying the role of “adviser on things being fixed,” he wanted to be “the investor doing the fixing.”

Jayanti got his wish in 1993 when he joined Corsair, then the financial services arm of JP Morgan. A flurry of dealmaking and fundraising followed, with Jayanti rising to become a partner. In 2006, he and Nick Paumgarten led Corsair’s spinout and launch as an independent business.

Six years later, Jayanti was appointed CEO, affording him an opportunity to recreate Corsair.

The result was the firm the market knows today: focused on control buyouts of small, high-growth financials services businesses. The shift in strategy was accompanied by organizational change that included the promotion of younger team members.

Jayanti lives in New York City with his wife and three children.

Where is your hometown?

I lived in San Jose, Costa Rica, for the first several years of my life and then largely in Geneva, Switzerland, through to college as my father was a nuclear physicist at Cern. Both towns had a mellow vibe when I lived there.

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

Teaching at the high school level.

How do you relax when you’re not working?

Reading, watching action thrillers (bad and great), sharing laughs with my family.

What book are you reading right now?

I have a few at the moment. Slow Horses by Mick Herron and The Wild Trees by Richard Preston are among the books that I am really enjoying right now.

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

I keep coming back to One for My Baby (and One More for the Road) performed by Frank Sinatra. I am torn between Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd and Aja by Steely Dan, but I listen to a lot of very different music and do not consider myself knowledgeable about music at all.

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

I have been really intrigued by the wines of Josko Gravner from Friuli Venezia in Italy for almost 25 years. It’s a longer story…

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

The mountains – in winter, fall or summer.

Who in your career do you regard as a mentor?

Corsair’s founder, Nick Paumgarten, played that role for many years.

Professionally, what was your toughest moment?

Taking on my current job knowing that it would involve driving enormous change within the organization and be a multi-year endeavor.

What was your most rewarding moment?

Sitting in on our investment committees and listening to and watching our professionals and the management teams they work with achieve incredibly productive partnerships. And knowing that many of the investors at the firm have matured here for five, 10, 20 years.

What private equity buzz words or jargon do you hate most?

Hate is a strong word – all words have their place. I don’t like words used as fillers or in the wrong places!

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

Work hard, think critically, ask honest questions and make yourself indispensable, even if sometimes the work may lack meaning.

What word or phrase best describes you?

I would say curious (and good sense of humor).