Mark Jennings ’84
Following the Entrepreneurial Spirit
Mark Jennings ’84 Shares How His Time with Gamma Iota Impacted His Career in Finance
As a freshman, Mark Jennings ’84 had a couple of friends who were a year older than him, and they happened to be members of Gamma Iota Chapter. One day they invited Mark over for a meet-and-greet with the rest of the Delt brothers in the chapter house. “Right then I knew it was an easy decision,” Mark said. “The guys were the best. They were funny, both humble and over-confident, gregarious, and always welcoming.” The friendships he made during his time as an active member become more meaningful with each passing year. Mark is sure that all Delts feel the same way.
As an active member, Mark made many memories that will last a lifetime, though he says some of his favorites are confidential. “I may choose to share them someday,” Mark joked. He served for one year as a social co-chairman and was a Texas Cowboy during college. “It was an honor to represent the Delts in that organization,” Mark said. He also fondly remembers many Groundhog Days that he wishes he could go back to and repeat.
Mark has always considered himself to be an entrepreneur as he grew up mowing lawns and working as a busboy, waiter, cook, valet parker, construction worker, and house painter. In college, he started a house painting company and hired several Gamma Iota brothers to make sure they had fun working together. He loved working with his brothers and says it helped develop his wit. Mark and his brothers were constantly telling tall tales and laughing together, no matter the situation. “Ultimately in business, those skills can make the difference in being selected for almost everything that matters,” Mark said, “so I would say being around my brothers made a huge impact on my career.”
After graduating from the University of Texas with a degree in mechanical engineering, Mark went on to attend Harvard Business School and then headed to Wall Street to work for Goldman Sachs. After a couple years in investment banking, his entrepreneurial instincts kicked in and Mark moved to the principal side. He helped create Lazard Freres’ first buyout fund, where he learned how to acquire businesses and was fortunate enough to work alongside CEOs who gave him a master class in strategy, operations, marketing, sales, IT, and finance.
Mark spent a decade with Lazard Freres honing his skills, but he decided it was time for him to start his own firm. Twenty-five years ago, Mark founded Generation Partners, where he serves as managing partner, with one of his best friends from business school. “We shared a vision to create a firm that marries good business with good purpose,” Mark said, “so we have a strong undercurrent in our strategy to build businesses that have a positive impact on society in addition to generating returns for our shareholders.” Over the years, the firm has worked with over 50 companies while creating a lot of jobs and making many friends along the way. “Generation is a special firm that is now 25 years strong and I feel privileged to be a part of it,” Mark said.
Though life has a tendency to take off with people spreading out and starting their own families, Mark has remained close to quite a few of his Delt brothers. “Sometimes it’s hard to see everyone as often as we would like,” Mark said. “However, we do our best and I treasure the relationships I have with everyone.” He hopes to get back to in-person trips with his brothers soon, but for now he is happy to connect over Zoom or on the phone.
In addition to staying connected with his brothers, Mark has given his financial support to the Texas Delts: Continuing the Tradition campaign for a new chapter house. “I’m just trying to pay it forward where I can and show gratitude for all the lucky things that happened to me along the way,” Mark said. He encourages his brothers to consider doing what they can to support the campaign. “Someone funded that house before we all got there,” Mark said. “We obviously stand on the shoulders of the men who came before us and have benefited greatly from their generosity years ago. It’s fitting to do our part now to the extent we can.”
Mark lives in Austin with his wife, Lisa, and their four children, Kalie, Coleman, Woodrow, and Jennibee. You can reach mark at email@example.com.