2015 Investment Management Awards: Shawn Wischmeier

Wischmeier is chief investment officer of Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies and this year’s Large Foundation winner.


As an heir to the largest privately held company in the U.S. — Wayzata, Minnesota–based agribusiness giant Cargill — Margaret Anne Cargill was one of the wealthiest women in America. But the Southern California native lived a relatively modest life, giving away close to half of her multibillion-dollar fortune during her lifetime. Upon Cargill’s death, in 2006, a foundation was established to continue her philanthropic legacy. In February 2012, Shawn Wischmeier became CIO of the $7.5 billion, Eden Prairie, Minnesota–based Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies, which include the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, the Anne Ray Charitable Trust and the Akaloa Resource Foundation. The nearly six-year delay between the umbrella organization’s formation and the appointment of its first CIO resulted from the nature of the funds, which were invested in Cargill and Mosaic Co., a publicly traded fertilizer producer.

Wischmeier, 40, who has an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, began his career as a chemical engineer before switching to finance, with a job in the global treasury department at drugmaker Eli Lilly and Co. He spent four years as CIO of the Indiana Public Employees’ Retirement Fund before joining the $90 billion North Carolina Retirement Systems as CIO. Moving from a mild southern climate to frigid Minnesota was only one of Wischmeier’s challenges. He has been investing a liquid portfolio during a time when many of the best returns have come from illiquid assets. The CIO and his team have compensated through prudent investing, hedging and risk management. The Philanthropies was early to hedge currency risk and profited from going long Europe. Wischmeier and the foundation are reluctant to share their investment results, but the CIO values the opportunity to share his experience with industry colleagues. Margaret Cargill is finally getting her due.

The 2015 U.S. Investment Management AwardsClick to View Profile