Alumni Profile: Glenn Youngkin
When Glenn Youngkin ’90 (MECH) takes the helm of the Carlyle Group in January 2018, he’ll cap off more than two decades at the global alternative asset management company. With locations in Houston, Washington, D.C. and around the world, it’s become a leader in providing private capital investment opportunities for a diverse clientele.
“This has been the most remarkable and exciting journey,” said Youngkin, who will work beside co-CEO Kewsong Lee. “I love being part of this dynamic and vibrant company.”
Youngkin is enthusiastic about the promotion. When he joined the company 23 years ago, there were 25 employees; today there are 1,600. When he came on board, Carlyle managed less than $500 million in assets. That number today is $175 billion.
Youngkin and Lee will work together to manage the day-to-day operations, but Youngkin’s particular focus will be on Carlyle’s real estate, energy and infrastructure businesses, the Investment Solutions segment as well as investor relations and external affairs.
“We’re investing in operating companies, real estate projects, airports, and energy companies around the world, and we partner with talented teams to deliver outcomes,” Youngkin said of his role and his firm. “We invest on behalf of police and firefighters, the public sector and teacher retirement funds, and work to help these kinds of institutions advance their own mission.”
Youngkin, who played basketball at Rice, said that the combination of his mechanical engineering and managerial studies degrees gave him a strong footing in the business world. He was a major donor to the Youngkin Center,which is part of the Tudor Fieldhouse complex.
“When I graduated in 1990, the Texas economy was in a depression and there weren’t many mechanical engineering jobs available. I went to work for an investment bank, in their energy group, which turned out to be the launching-off point for a different career. But, engineering teaches you how to solve problems, and I discovered I was pretty good at making sense from disparate data.”
He went on to get an MBA from the Harvard Business School, and joined Carlyle in what he calls the company’s “early stages.” His engineering background gave him insight not only into solving problems, but also into the company’s manufacturing and industrial investments, and his business education helped make him the person to bridge those two sides of Carlyle’s culture.
“I joined Carlyle when I was 28,” he said. “I’m 51 now, so I basically grew up here.”
Working for Carlyle gave him the opportunities to help the business grow. He worked for Carlyle’s London office for six years, an experience he called enriching for himself and his family. There, he discovered that he liked the creativity that new business development required, as well as the challenges it presented. He’s expecting those challenges to continue as he assumes the co-CEO role.
“No two of my days are alike. I might be meeting with shareholders or spending time working on budget projections. But the reality is, every day, I work around great people.”
Youngkin is grateful for both his professional success and for the opportunities his Rice education afforded him. He said he felt privileged to be able to contribute to the fieldhouse renovations.
“I came to Rice as a basketball player, but I also wanted to work for NASA when I was a student here. My career took a different path, but Rice’s rigorous program prepared me for life afterwards. We [he and his wife of 24 years] were fortunate enough to be able to give back to the university. Rice has a tremendous athletics program, but for me, at its core, the experience of being a student-athlete is the university’s strong focus on academics. The Youngkin Center provides a place for student-athletes to gather and get any help and support they need. I love that Rice refuses to accept a lower standard for these students, and I have such respect for President David Leebron as he continues to support the school’s participation in D-1 athletics.”
As an athlete, a student and a professional, Youngkin has made it a point to challenge himself and others. As he steps into the next phase of his career, he knows he has a strong foundation on which to build — and he plans to have just as much fun in this role as he’s had across the rest of his professional life.