Employee Spotlight

Jason Howard Director, Investments - Private Markets

Alma mater: Emory University – Goizueta Business School
GCM Grosvenor tenure: Since 2009
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Favorite vacation spot: Vail, Colorado

 


Q: TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND CAREER PATH. WHAT WAS YOUR JOURNEY TO GCM GROSVENOR?
I started my career as a three-year analyst at Goldman Sachs, where I focused on mergers and acquisitions as well as advising media and entertainment companies. When I ended the analyst program, I joined Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta (my hometown), and then the Disney Film Studio in Burbank, California, to gain further experience in the media and entertainment industry. After Disney, realizing I missed the world of finance, I returned to investment banking at Goldman Sachs.

In 2009, I joined Credit Suisse’s Customized Fund Investment Group as an associate. I was drawn to CFIG because it had a unique value proposition to me as a professional. It allowed me to develop deep expertise in private equity by providing exposure to the entire industry, learning how managers generate value, and discovering how some of the best minds in the world invest. When GCM Grosvenor acquired CFIG in 2014, I continued to focus on my passion in this space. In addition, early in my tenure at the firm, I became involved in our efforts of investing with diverse and women managers, which is an area I continue to focus on today.

Q: WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR AVERAGE DAY?
I meet with private equity fund managers to evaluate their investment strategies. I collaborate with clients regarding investment opportunities for their programs, and I also evaluate and source new co-investment and fund investment opportunities. I work with many colleagues at GCM Grosvenor to understand market opportunities, the current private equity landscape and any risks and considerations for potential investment opportunities. Although I’m based in the firm’s Los Angeles office, I feel very connected because of the frequency and depth of communication across the firm. It is very much a team-oriented environment.

My particular focus is on investing with small, emerging and diverse managers. It is interesting to partner with these strong investment professionals as they build new firms, which provide us access to unique investment opportunities. I became interested in this area after I saw the firm’s extensive efforts to raise the visibility of these managers. It is great to be a part of their successes, and I believe it demonstrates the firm’s dedication to supporting diversity in the industry.

Q: TELL US ABOUT YOUR ROLE WITH GCM GROSVENOR’S SMALL AND EMERGING MANAGERS CONFERENCE (SEM CONFERENCE).
I am thrilled to be a part of our SEM Conference, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2016. As part of the planning committee for the conference, I am involved in creating content and identifying speakers who can share compelling stories about their engagement in the emerging managers marketplace. In particular, I focus on developing conference panels that highlight how we at GCM Grosvenor evaluate real-world investment opportunities and react to various situations that arise as we pursue and monitor both fund investments and co-investments. The conference is a wonderful opportunity to bring together limited partners and general partners who are committed to the emerging managers sector. The conference allows for networking, as well as education about and for emerging managers. We invite professionals throughout the industry to attend the SEM Conference because we focus on creating a large, inclusive audience of participants. Last year, we hosted more than 600 attendees in Chicago for two days of professional development and networking.

Q: WHO HAVE BEEN YOUR PROFESSIONAL ROLE MODELS?
I have had two mentors throughout my career. The first is Rob Pace, who was a Partner during my tenure at Goldman Sachs. Rob was the type of multi-faceted leader who built trusting, long-term relationships with clients, cared about people on his team, and always made time for others no matter how busy he was. You can see elements of his influence in my work today and in how I support my teams.

Derek Jones, a Managing Director at GCM Grosvenor and my current direct manager, has also been a mentor. It has been inspiring to watch his success. He freely shares his expertise and experience in private equity to help the next generation of the firm’s leaders develop. He also provides me with opportunities to demonstrate my capabilities and takes the time to share candid feedback on my work. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with and learn from a leader like Derek.

Q: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE LOOKING TO START A CAREER IN THE INVESTMENT WORLD?
Develop strong finance skills because they are the foundation of everything we do. In addition, learn how to communicate solutions to complex problems in simple ways.

Q: WHEN YOU’RE NOT AT WORK, WHAT CAN WE FIND YOU DOING?
I spend my free time with my wife and 4-year-old son – he is very entertaining and his favorite thing to do right now is play with daddy. We like to be very active and spend time exploring our home community in Orange County, hiking, visiting amusement parks and going to the beach.

Q: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SOURCES OF ENTERTAINMENT?
My favorite TV show is “24”, and my favorite movie is “Skyfall”. I am drawn to the action, intrigue and unique problem-solving present in both.

 

Previous Spotlights

Jason HowardDirector, Investments - Private Markets

Alma mater: Emory University – Goizueta Business School
GCM Grosvenor tenure: Since 2009
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Favorite vacation spot: Vail, Colorado

 

Q: TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND CAREER PATH. WHAT WAS YOUR JOURNEY TO GCM GROSVENOR?
I started my career as a three-year analyst at Goldman Sachs, where I focused on mergers and acquisitions as well as advising media and entertainment companies. When I ended the analyst program, I joined Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta (my hometown), and then the Disney Film Studio in Burbank, California, to gain further experience in the media and entertainment industry. After Disney, realizing I missed the world of finance, I returned to investment banking at Goldman Sachs.

In 2009, I joined Credit Suisse’s Customized Fund Investment Group as an associate. I was drawn to CFIG because it had a unique value proposition to me as a professional. It allowed me to develop deep expertise in private equity by providing exposure to the entire industry, learning how managers generate value, and discovering how some of the best minds in the world invest. When GCM Grosvenor acquired CFIG in 2014, I continued to focus on my passion in this space. In addition, early in my tenure at the firm, I became involved in our efforts of investing with diverse and women managers, which is an area I continue to focus on today.

Q: WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR AVERAGE DAY?
I meet with private equity fund managers to evaluate their investment strategies. I collaborate with clients regarding investment opportunities for their programs, and I also evaluate and source new co-investment and fund investment opportunities. I work with many colleagues at GCM Grosvenor to understand market opportunities, the current private equity landscape and any risks and considerations for potential investment opportunities. Although I’m based in the firm’s Los Angeles office, I feel very connected because of the frequency and depth of communication across the firm. It is very much a team-oriented environment.

My particular focus is on investing with small, emerging and diverse managers. It is interesting to partner with these strong investment professionals as they build new firms, which provide us access to unique investment opportunities. I became interested in this area after I saw the firm’s extensive efforts to raise the visibility of these managers. It is great to be a part of their successes, and I believe it demonstrates the firm’s dedication to supporting diversity in the industry.

Q: TELL US ABOUT YOUR ROLE WITH GCM GROSVENOR’S SMALL AND EMERGING MANAGERS CONFERENCE (SEM CONFERENCE).
I am thrilled to be a part of our SEM Conference, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2016. As part of the planning committee for the conference, I am involved in creating content and identifying speakers who can share compelling stories about their engagement in the emerging managers marketplace. In particular, I focus on developing conference panels that highlight how we at GCM Grosvenor evaluate real-world investment opportunities and react to various situations that arise as we pursue and monitor both fund investments and co-investments. The conference is a wonderful opportunity to bring together limited partners and general partners who are committed to the emerging managers sector. The conference allows for networking, as well as education about and for emerging managers. We invite professionals throughout the industry to attend the SEM Conference because we focus on creating a large, inclusive audience of participants. Last year, we hosted more than 600 attendees in Chicago for two days of professional development and networking.

Q: WHO HAVE BEEN YOUR PROFESSIONAL ROLE MODELS?
I have had two mentors throughout my career. The first is Rob Pace, who was a Partner during my tenure at Goldman Sachs. Rob was the type of multi-faceted leader who built trusting, long-term relationships with clients, cared about people on his team, and always made time for others no matter how busy he was. You can see elements of his influence in my work today and in how I support my teams.

Derek Jones, a Managing Director at GCM Grosvenor and my current direct manager, has also been a mentor. It has been inspiring to watch his success. He freely shares his expertise and experience in private equity to help the next generation of the firm’s leaders develop. He also provides me with opportunities to demonstrate my capabilities and takes the time to share candid feedback on my work. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with and learn from a leader like Derek.

Q: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE LOOKING TO START A CAREER IN THE INVESTMENT WORLD?
Develop strong finance skills because they are the foundation of everything we do. In addition, learn how to communicate solutions to complex problems in simple ways.

Q: WHEN YOU’RE NOT AT WORK, WHAT CAN WE FIND YOU DOING?
I spend my free time with my wife and 4-year-old son – he is very entertaining and his favorite thing to do right now is play with daddy. We like to be very active and spend time exploring our home community in Orange County, hiking, visiting amusement parks and going to the beach.

Q: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SOURCES OF ENTERTAINMENT?
My favorite TV show is “24”, and my favorite movie is “Skyfall”. I am drawn to the action, intrigue and unique problem-solving present in both.

 

Dianna Di Iorio HenrichSenior Vice President, Investments - Public Markets

Alma maters: Northwestern University and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
GCM Grosvenor tenure: Since 2007
Hometown: Long Grove, Illinois
Favorite place in the world: South Africa, where I traveled for my honeymoon

Q: WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT RESPONSIBILITIES AT GCM GROVENOR?
I am currently a Portfolio Manager for our hedge fund business and oversee multi-strategy portfolios as well as other specialized strategies and custom mandates. The role includes a balance between the investment-focused portfolio construction and monitoring process and maintaining and developing client relationships. I am also active in furthering the firm’s socially responsible investing initiative, which focuses on incorporating environmental, social and corporate governance factors into our core business. Additionally, I lead the women and minority hedge fund initiative for our firm. Last, I am active in the GCM Grosvenor mentoring program.

Q: HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH THE FIRM?
I was introduced to GCM Grosvenor by a colleague when I was with JPMorgan. Although I received a letter of rejection after contacting the firm, I did not give up. A year later, I went to a CFA event where GCM Grosvenor’s head of equity research was speaking. I introduced myself and, after a conversation, was invited to interview. I was offered a job as an equity research analyst. Today, the framed letter of rejection hangs in my office as a reminder to continue working hard despite obstacles.

Q: WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?
I remain very active with Northwestern University. I ran my class’ five- and 10-year reunions. I also volunteer and fundraise for the University, and I continue to be a big football fan despite the team’s well-earned reputation as the Cardiac ‘Cats. To keep in shape, I spin and take dance classes (I was on the dance team at Northwestern).

Q: WHO WAS/IS YOUR ROLE MODEL?
Professionally speaking, my role model is Mary Erdoes at JPMorgan. While working at JPMorgan, I observed her fast and steady growth. I watched how she developed relationships with and was respected by men and women alike. She also championed the idea of “work-life integration” instead of “work-life balance,” which remains an ongoing pursuit for me. On a personal basis, my former roommate, Natalie, is my role model. She was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at age 28. She has fought the disease with such strength and started her own foundation, Team Nat Foundation, to raise research money for her type of cancer. She continues to be an inspiration to me and keeps me grounded with proper perspective.

Q: TELL ME ABOUT SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN INFLUENTIAL IN YOUR CAREER
I was painfully shy when I joined the firm. The curriculum for math majors was not exactly focused on public speaking! Tom Meagher, a colleague on the Business Development team, brought me on client and prospect visits and coached me on my delivery and presence. He taught me how to present effectively to small and large groups. He was and continues to be an important advocate and role model for me.

Q: WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE WHO IS JUST STARTING HIS/HER CAREER?
Be humble. Take every opportunity to help the organization be successful, even if you find certain tasks mundane. Also, actively seek to be a mentee and mentor at all times. There is always someone from whom you can learn and someone who can learn from you.