Alumnus of the Month: January 2008
Donald J. Hofmann ’79
Hofstra provided the foundations for my adult life. I entered Hofstra as an unsure 17 year old and left as a focused and confident person. I was very active and held leadership positions in a fraternity, residential life, and The Chronicle.
My strong education at Hofstra enabled me to earn admission to Harvard Business School during my senior year, and the M.B.A. positioned me for career success.
Most importantly, I met my wife at a party at the Student Center, and that has been the most important foundation of my life – my wife and children.
What was your major?
My major was Finance and my favorite class was Security Analysis.
What is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
After meeting my wife, it is all the good times we had in the fraternity. We played ball, hung out at the Rathskellar, and had a lot of fun. Unfortunately, Delta Tau lost its charter, so it’s hard to have a sanctioned reunion. Maybe some day I’ll go to a Chronicle reunion. I was sports editor, and we had a very talented and spirited group in those days.
How do you view Hofstra today?
I think Hofstra is a great institution and admire its leadership and growing stature. The campus is much larger and more beautiful than it was in the late 1970s, and its academic reputation has grown significantly.
I am impressed with the creation of a medical school, and applaud President Rabinowitz for his vision. I am an investor, and appreciate how much my college investment has grown in value over the last 30 years!
What advice would you give current students?
Find some courses to take just for the love of learning, and don’t get hung up on your choice of a major. Other than specialized fields like accounting, most companies want smart people who work hard and are empathetic toward others. They will provide the vocational training, but you won’t have the opportunity to take ancient Chinese history again.
What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned here? I was a Financial Analyst at Smith Barney, working in the corporate office. The most important thing I learned was that I wanted to be in a line position with profit and loss responsibility and not in a staff job where one’s performance is difficult to measure.
What is the single most rewarding experience in your career thus far?
The most rewarding aspect of my career is mentoring managers, both at companies and at non-profit organizations. Helping them achieve their goals while figuring out how to maximize value (companies) or service to the community (non-profit) is what I find most rewarding.
How do you balance work and life?
I was a pioneer in work/life balance in the mid-1990s. I was very honest with my employer about my desire to have more balance and was open about my activities. I coached Little League for 10 years and never missed a practice or game, and my kids still talk about those times. I had achieved a senior position and had control over my calendar, which is hard to do early in your career. Ultimately, I found the best work/life balance by starting my own fund and working 20 minutes from home when my kids were still in middle school.
How did you get involved in nonprofit activities?
I have been fortunate and always felt it was important to give back to the community. When I stopped commuting to New York, I was asked to use my business experience to help local nonprofits. I got involved in HomeFront, which helps homeless families achieve independence. The average homeless person in Mercer County is 7 years old, and homelessness is not a choice.
The mothers who keep their families together in the most difficult of circumstances are heroic to me. I helped HomeFront build an organization that is sustainable, and will provide help to homeless families long after the current director and board have moved on.
My work with Princeton HealthCare System is also very personal. My children were born there, and our family has deep, 25-year roots in this community. We are currently building a $400-million replacement hospital, so all my financial skills are being utilized.
What are your interests outside of work?
I have been a runner since my Hofstra days, and continue to run 15 miles a week and compete in 10K and 10 mile races. I also play tennis three times a week and recently won a county doubles tournament. I enjoy music and reading about history, especially the American Revolution and World War II, and current American politics.
What is your greatest satisfaction in business?
In both business and nonprofit activities, I enjoy mentoring people to help them achieve their goals. In business we couple that with making money, and in nonprofit it is about best serving our community. I enjoy helping managers figure out the best ways to grow their organizations and develop the leadership skills necessary to succeed.
Donald J. Hofmann is a general partner at Crystal Ridge Partners, a private equity firm located in Princeton, New Jersey. Crystal Ridge Partners invests in growing companies engaged in the light manufacturing, service, and distribution sectors.
Mr. Hofmann was previously a senior partner at JP Morgan Partners and its predecessors, Chase Capital Partners and Chemical Venture Partners. He founded and served as president of MH Equity, the private equity arm of Manufacturers Hanover, and held senior-level positions within its investment banking sector.
Mr. Hofmann earned a B.B.A. in finance from Hofstra University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School.
In the nonprofit sector, Mr. Hofmann serves as vice chairman and treasurer of Princeton HealthCare System, which includes the University Medical Center at Princeton, a leading teaching hospital in central New Jersey. He is also a trustee and former chair of HomeFront, which helps homeless families in Mercer County rebuild their lives and return to independence. He is a former trustee of Princeton Day School.
Mr. Hofmann has been married for 27 years to Joyce Hofmann, and they have two sons.