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Finance Professor of the Practice Gary Jones, IM 1971, brings corporate stars to the classroom.
Finance Professor of the Practice Gary Jones, IM 1971, brings corporate stars to the classroom.

Alumnus/Professor Gary Jones Brings Real-World Financial Experience to the Classroom

The year was 1974. Gary T. Jones, three years out of what is now Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, had just finished his MBA and wanted to gain more experience in the financial industry.

The plan, he assured his new bride, Libby, was to live in New York City for only a couple years and then they'd return home to Atlanta. They finally made it back — 33 years later, when Jones retired as managing director of Credit Suisse First Boston in 2007.

When Steve Salbu, then the dean of the Scheller College of Business, heard that Jones, BS 1971, was retiring from Wall Street, he approached the Marietta, Georgia, native about serving as a professor of the practice in finance. Jones readily accepted.

"I had previously been a guest lecturer on several occasions at Columbia, Wharton, and Darden and had thoroughly enjoyed the experience," Jones says. "So I was intrigued with bringing very practical, real-world experience into the classroom."

Interactive Teaching

"Management of Financial Institutions," the course Jones teaches, is a mix of cases, required text material and general class discussions focusing on the role and operation of financial institutions and markets, including investment banks, securities firms, commercial banks and other institutions.

"The method of instruction is a combination of the case method, which insists on a highly interactive environment of classroom participation, a heavy emphasis on current financial news incorporating timely market updates into the classroom, and a series of guest speakers and lecturers representing star practitioners and resident experts in their respective fields," he notes. "Through these guest lecturers, the course offers students an opportunity to delve into all aspects of the capital markets and receive a 'learn-at-the-knee of the master' understanding of how these markets operate."

Jones' class is among the most popular at the Scheller College. Students develop a better understanding of the Federal Reserve, equity and fixed-income capital markets, the money management industry, private equity and venture capital, and many other aspects of finance.

"The students are phenomenal," he says. "They love the content and, ironically, the pressure and the stress found in the 'cold-call' classroom environment. It's amazing how quickly they pick up things like Fed funds rate, quantitative easing, sub-prime mortgages, what happened to Bear Stearns, and so forth. It is an extremely provocative, interactive and demanding classroom environment as far as involvement and participation — and they eat it up."

Choosing Tech

After graduating from Marietta High School in 1967, Jones' college choices were Duke, Vanderbilt and Tech. His father quickly convinced him of the economic advantages of staying closer to home and attending Georgia Tech.

"At the time, we could have never afforded Duke or Vandy, so I fulfilled one of my early dreams and enrolled at Georgia Tech."

Tech also enjoyed a sentimental advantage.

"My Dad had attended Emory, but he was a huge Georgia Tech and Bobby Dodd fan. I still vividly remember my first football game at Grant Field, in 1956. We had several stars, including quarterback Wade Mitchell, who is a dear friend after all these years. Georgia Tech remained undefeated as we rambled over Tulane, as I recall."

Change of Major

Jones started his Tech education as an industrial engineering major. Then, during his sophomore year, he hit a brick wall in the curriculum called thermodynamics.

"I can't repeat what the students called it," he laughs. "But about the same time the advancement of the School of Industrial Management to a College occurred. So it seemed only natural to pursue a quantitative degree in business. It was certainly one of the best decisions of my young life."

As a Tech student, Jones was a member of the Ramblin' Reck Club, ODK, Sigma Nu and ANAK. He is among the first group of inductees into the recently established Georgia Tech Greek Hall of Fame.

After graduation, Jones served nine months on active duty with the U.S. Army Reserve before entering graduate school. He also earned an MBA from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, which honored him in 2014 with the Charles C. Abbott Award (the school's highest alumni honor).

In 1974, he joined the investment banking firm of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DL&J). Four years later, he began a decade-long stint with L. F. Rothschild. In 1988, Jones returned to DL&J as global sales manager for the Fixed-Income Division. The company was purchased by Credit Suisse Group in 2000, and he became managing director and senior advisor of the investment banking division, Credit Suisse First Boston.

Community Service

Jones volunteers many hours to Georgia Tech, including service on the Business College's Advisory Board. He also serves as a trustee, vice chair and chair-elect of the Georgia Tech Foundation. Jones was elected to the College's Hall of Fame in 2004, and in 2008 received the Joseph Mayo Petit Distinguished Service Award. A charter member of the Hill Society, he is a Golden Life member and former trustee of the Alexander-Tharpe Fund.

He is equally generous in his financial support of Tech, having funded the Gary T. and Elizabeth R. Jones chair in management and provided key support for the Career Center that bears their names. In addition, the Evelyn T. and Mallory C. Jones, and the Helen W. and John T. Rhett Classrooms, were named in honor of the Jones' parents.

"I am so proud of Georgia Tech and of the Scheller College of Business," he says, "and will continue to support the school as a proud alum. Georgia Tech gave me many, many gifts, and I will repay those gifts whenever I can."

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Susan Ambrosetti
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