Agata Praczuk
MetLife

Agata Praczuk, associate director of alternative investments at MetLife Investments, got an early education in business from her entrepreneurial parents, who emigrated separately from Poland in the 1970s and met in the U.S. As an only child, Brooklyn native Praczuk spent most weekends — when she wasn’t at Polish school or in church — watching and helping them with their respective ventures. Her father invested in real estate; her mother, a chemist by training, worked as a jeweler for 25 years.

The first in her immediate family to go to college, Praczuk graduated from Northeastern University in Boston with a BS in finance and international business in 2004. She researched a broad range of strategies at French bank BNP Paribas before moving into a hedge fund analyst position at Millburn Corp. in New York. At the quantitative investment firm, Praczuk, 35, supported the sole manager on a two-person team responsible for a $250 million fund-of-hedge-funds portfolio, but the 2008–’09 financial crisis tested her relationship with hedge funds. In 2009 she took time off to study finance at New York University’s Stern School of Business, where she earned an MBA in 2011.

At Stern, Praczuk pursued internships in real estate investing, a field that hit close to home, but she missed being an allocator. With Jenna Bussman-Wise, another Hedge Fund Rising Star, she co-founded the Stern Hedge Fund Association, a hedge fund investing club for which she organized lectures and events with industry professionals.

After business school she joined MetLife in Morristown, New Jersey, where she’s part of a three-person team that built up the insurer’s hedge fund portfolio. Recently, Praczuk, who covers event-driven and credit funds, has been working to cut the portfolio and ensure that it’s prepared to withstand challenging market conditions. In early May, MetLife announced that it was planning to redeem a significant portion of its hedge fund holdings ­— $1.2 billion of the current $1.8 billion.

Praczuk remains involved in the hedge fund community. She serves as a member of the East Coast grants committee and on the Fall Fete planning committee of international charity Hedge Funds Care/Help for Children.

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