How TIFF’s New President Started a New Job Amid a Pandemic

Kane Brenan joined TIFF in April, just as Pennsylvania’s coronavirus cases peaked. He talked with Institutional Investor about how he started a new job, completely online.

Kane Brenan/Illustration by II

Kane Brenan/Illustration by II

When Kane Brenan was hired as TIFF Investment Management’s new president, he made a plan.

He was going to spend his first week at TIFF’s Radnor, Pennsylvania office, getting to know his new colleagues. Then, he’d hit the road, spending the next month meeting with TIFF’s nonprofit clients across the country.

“One, it gives you fodder to make changes,” Brenan said on his plan to meet with clients. “But also, you are kind of a blank slate. You can go and listen and learn.”

The Covid-19 pandemic, though, derailed that plan. Brenan’s first day at the firm was April 13, just days after Pennsylvania’s new coronavirus cases peaked. All travel was put on hold, and Brenan’s first day was conducted from his family’s home.

“It’s actually gone much better than I feared in mid-March,” Brenan said by phone Monday. “I couldn’t imagine not being in the office.”

Brenan, who previously led Goldman’s global portfolio solutions group, left the firm in the fall of 2019 to return to the Philadelphia area, where his family lives. At the same time, TIFF began its search for a new president, according to TIFF’s April announcement, which noted that “the stars aligned” so that TIFF was able to hire Brenan.

According to Brenan, working for a nonprofit that also serves as an investment manager for consultants is exciting to him.

“At my age and experience, to try something that rhymes with what I’ve done but has a different bent is really cool,” he said.

Brenan said his first week on the job was challenging: He, like anyone else starting a new job in the age of working from home, had to figure out how to use a new computer system, fill out paperwork remotely, and meet his new colleagues over Zoom calls, rather than in person.

And he said he worried that the energy he exudes in person may not come through as well on a screen.

“Like any Wall Street person, I have that energy, passion, competitive spirit,” Brenan said. “It’s harder to imbue from behind a Zoom camera a few hours a day, rather than walking the halls, rolling up your sleeves, and jumping in to help people.”

[II Deep Dive: TIFF Hires Former Goldman Partner Kane Brenan as President]

Brenan added that although he’s unable to work as planned, he’s still working to connect with TIFF’s 550 nonprofit clients, even if they can’t met in person.

“OCIOs are like a marriage; you need to have good communication,” Brenan said.

As for what’s next for TIFF?

“One of my goals for TIFF is to continue is to make sure to zealously look at opportunities for the organization,” Brenan said. He added that these opportunities include potentially broadening TIFF’s services offered or considering working with clients outside of the United States.