After the Second World War Jan's parents could not return to Poland. His father's home town had been annexed by the Soviet Union. His father and his mother's father had been diplomats for the pre-communist government and so both would have been prime targets for repression. They emigrated to South Africa and Jan's father Wladimir worked as a civil engineer throughout the Southern half of the continent.
Jan was born in Rhodesia and brought up in Johannesburg. His parents sent him and his brother Christopher to a multi-racial co-educational boarding school in Swaziland, founded by a group of English and South African teachers opposed to the apartheid regime.
After completing his "A" levels Jan read Economics at Cambridge, where he was an active member of the Polish, European, sailing and other societies.
in 1975 Jan joined the investment bank SG Warburg. He first worked on eurobond issues in the International division, and then as a financial adviser and eventually a Director in the Corporate Finance division. He served many clients, some of them the largest companies in the UK, on a wide range of matters including raising debt and/or equity finance by rights issues or other means, agreed mergers with other companies, unilateral offers to take-over other companies, the defence of companies against unwelcome take-over offers from other parties, and similar transactions in the USA, Canada, Denmark, Spain, Italy and Portugal.
"It was a fascinating experience. The professionalism inherited from the German founders of the bank was an excellent training for my future career" he says.