Member Spotlight: Don McDonough

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Managing Director, JLL Partners

Every month, we will feature an active member of the ACG New York community in a brief interview. Reflecting industry insight and personal perspective, this feature will introduce industry leaders and offer advice on the tools you need to succeed in the ever-changing middle market.

Connect with Don McDonough on LinkedIn.

1. Quick basics– role/firm/focus/how long have you been an ACG member?

I am a Managing Director and Head of Business Development for JLL Partners, a middle market private equity firm based in New York. My efforts focus on developing new investment opportunities and portfolio company add-on transactions in the business services, industrial and healthcare sectors. JLL Partners focuses on investments with transactional and operational complexity in which we can invest between $50 million and $250 million in equity. I have been an ACG member since 2005.

2. What do you think are the biggest obstacles in the middle market today?

Between new market entrants and new private equity capital raised, the level of market competition today is very high. Capital has become more of a commodity. In order to be successful in this market, it is imperative for investors to develop differentiated capabilities in origination, capital markets, operations and transactional expertise to have the opportunity to help create and build strong businesses. Market dynamics have put greater pressure on firms to identify the right investment opportunities earlier, and to have the right relationships and strategic advantages necessary to make successful investments. To that end, private equity firms must have greater internal clarity on their objectives and strategic advantages. They must create the dynamic of being a strategic investor in a particular area and/or transaction type, and have the ability to leverage that through the right relationships quickly and with the greatest impact.

3. How has ACG helped you in your career?

ACG has been instrumental in the development of new relationships that have helped in all aspects of my private equity career. From early in my career, it has given me the opportunity to create a terrific base of networking contacts that I can leverage to find or build more unique investment opportunities. ACG has provided a platform to expand my network of advisors, lenders, executives, consultants and competitors that has greatly benefited my career. Working now in leadership roles on the board of ACG NY, our annual healthcare conference and PE/IB committee, I have the wonderful opportunity to meet and learn from some of the most successful professionals in the middle market.

4. Can you tell us about your greatest success story/ proudest achievement?

I’ve been fortunate to be a part of several successful firms and teams, and I am most proud of my family, but on a professional level I would say the opportunity to start and build the business development function at JLL Partners has been the most rewarding. Far from any single successful investment opportunity or deal situation, I feel that what has been built is something that will provide for sustained, long term opportunity for my firm.

5. What changes do you foresee happening in the middle market in the next 3-5 years?

As we have been in a strong market environment for the past ten years, like most I feel that there will be a pullback in the economy at some point over the next several years. Investment and commitment to private equity should remain strong, but I think the components to success will continue to shift more towards functional specialization and a greater emphasis on elements like business development and operations. I also think transactional capabilities for successful deals will require greater creativity and real dealmaking than maybe we’ve seen in this growth market.