II’s Most Wanted Allocators: First Team

The wish list of not-yet-CIOs, according to the industry’s top recruiters.

Illustration by Giacomo Bagnara

Illustration by Giacomo Bagnara

For many, the role of chief investment officer at an elite institution is the end goal of a career on the allocating side of the financial industry. It means leading a team of investors, allocating a portfolio worth billions, and serving a meaningful mission (with a solid paycheck, too).

Nice work if you can get it.

Who are the investors coveted for these treasured CIO roles? When recruiters dream of their ultimate long list, who’s on it? Institutional Investor asked them. What follows is the top 25 institutional allocators that recruiters most want for CIO jobs and who don’t yet have them.

The top talent brokers helped II’s editors design a formula to quantify desirability and score candidates, according to what they think matters in a first-time CIO.

Portfolio Management 50%

  • Investment track record: 25%*
  • Exposure to complex investments and asset classes: 15%
  • Manager relations and access: 10%

Non-Portfolio Management 50%

  • Management and leadership skills: 20%
  • Communication, interpersonal skills, and board interaction experience: 20%
  • Reputation of employer: 10%

With these criteria in hand, II editors collected, vetted, and scored reams of recommendations, sourced primarily from the leading recruiters on three continents, but also from asset managers, consultants, and CIOs themselves. When more than one investor received the same total score, ties were broken by subtracting grades for investment track record and employer reputation — the two criteria most dependent on the quality of an individual’s organization.

Crucially, this lists recruiters’ fantasy draft picks, not free agents — to an extent: Allocators assumed to be unmovable (Yale’s Dean Takahashi, say) were ignored; so were individuals with no previous allocating experience. Otherwise, any institutional allocator worldwide, regardless of age or fund size, was fair game. Some may have decided long ago to remain pure investors, and that the work of coddling board members, managing scandals, and debating salaries wasn’t for them. To those who see members of their staff listed, congratulations! Take this is as a testament to your ability to develop talent — and an annual market valuation of it.

Welcome to II’s inaugural Most Wanted Allocators: First Team, ranked 1 through 25. The Second Team (26 to 50) can be found here.

Comments, complaints, candidates for next year? Let us know.

*When an individual’s portfolio track record was unknown, significant weight was given to the track record of the institution(s) at which they worked over the previous ten years.


Elise McDonald

Total Score: 73/100

A “very good investor,” McDonald oversaw absolute return investments, then portfolio strategy, before taking on a generalist role under HMC’s latest CEO Narv Narvekar. The formerly “dysfunctional” environment at Harvard meant a lack of “proper mentorship” for McDonald in the past, but under Narvekar she’s getting “good exposure and breadth.”


Rich Hall

Total Score: 74/100

Having “done his time” at the messy Harvard Management Company, Hall returned to Texas and UTIMCO in early 2018 to reunite with former boss Britt Harris. That Harris, newly implanted at UTIMCO after a successful career at Texas Teachers, would so quickly get Hall back “speaks volumes — it’s basically all you need to know.” Look for Hall to either “succeed Harris, when the time is right, or be lured away to run his own non-profit portfolio.”


Jay Kang

Total Score: 75/100

This Yale endowment alum is “ready to go” skills-wise for a CIO job. With a “good reputation” and “good pedigree” from years at the Hilton Foundation, Kang is “certainly” strong from a technical standpoint. But working at Stanford — with its “very challenging” board — the question mark for Kang is how he will deal with a new investment committee.


John Barker

Total Score: 76/100

Insiders say there are two strong deputies on Robert Manilla’s team: Donna Snider is one, Barker the other. Although still “a bit young,” Barker is “very polished” and “pretty seasoned.” After graduating from Notre Dame, Barker was hired by the university’s CIO, Scott Malpass, and stayed at the endowment for nearly five years. Recruiters think he’s now “sitting it out” at Kresge in hopes of succeeding Manilla.


Ed Cass

Total Score: 83/100

Cass “could be the CEO of any fund in the world, let alone the CIO,” one industry insider says. “Not that it looks like he’s having any fun. He’s a bit like Eeyore, a contrarian.” Cass took over the real assets arm to fill a need for solid leadership, adding yet another CPPIB division to the list of groups he’s run. The question about Cass is not whether he’s wanted as a CIO — he is — but rather if he wants to be one.


Thomas Woodbury

Total Score: 81/100

A top recruiter pick for filling a CIO role, Woodbury is “a star.” With a “sizeable team for an endowment,” the Wharton grad is “super polished.” Those in the know say Woodbury has a similar skill set to ex-colleague David Harkins, who got picked off in 2015 to lead the University of California San Francisco Foundation. Woodbury, now heading absolute return strategies at U. Penn, started out in equity research, giving him security-level experience.


Ingrid van Sundert

Total Score: 77/100

After almost 20 years at APG, van Sundert is “highly regarded” both internally and externally. Now running all of the Dutch fund’s manager selection, she started out in real estate before moving on to debt and equities, giving her high marks in portfolio management. At such a large organization, however, she’s had less experience dealing with boards than others on this list.


Scott Taylor

Total Score: 86/100

U.S. recruiters and Canadian peers alike see CIO in Taylor’s future. “He is just a machine. He runs the external manager program, which is a pretty significant portfolio” — an understatement when you control allocations worth C$94 billion (US$73 billion). “He has about 30 or 40 people out of Toronto, and they just crank,” one insider says. Taylor and his close London counterpart Aleksander Weiler are “really well-suited. I think Alek is a little bit more creative.”


Robert Coke

Total Score: 80/100

Coke reportedly trained as a Catholic priest before realizing it wasn’t for him. The church’s loss was the Wellcome Trust’s gain — over the last 19 years Coke has been “very, very active” in building out the preeminent foundation’s alternatives program. Recruiters question why Coke, who hasn’t yet run a “fully-fledged team,” hasn’t moved into a more senior role — but in the tight European endowment and foundation world, there are “not too many seats for him to go to.”


Sarah Samuels & Greg Turk (tie)

Sarah Samuels’ Total Score: 75/100

This former Wellington Management and Massachusetts pension “star” made the jump to the Wellesley endowment in 2017. Seen as a “CIO in waiting” by numerous outsiders, her stint as the deputy CIO at a massive state pension gives her “leadership and portfolio” experience, as well as “likely exposure to senior stakeholders” due to CIO Michael Trotsky’s acknowledged skill in mentoring talent. The question one recruiter has is simple: “Would she leave Wellesley? I don’t know.”

Greg Turk’s Total Score: 75/100

Although perhaps less “Northeastern polished” than others on this list, Turk is “super disciplined” and “very, very bright.” This “folksy” Midwesterner with an “analytical bent” is skilled across asset classes — and insiders say his people skills are equally good. “Super composed” during even conflict-ridden board meetings, Turk “doesn’t talk a lot… the mark of someone thoughtful.”


Tanya Carmichael

Total Score: 85/100

“Incredibly strong leadership skills,” one recruiter raves. Carmichael leads about 15 investment professionals based in Hong Kong, London, and the Toronto mothership, all searching primarily for direct and co-investments with “a private equity focus.” Beyond Ontario Teachers’ — by some measures the world’s best performing pension fund — “she’s engaged with the investor community and chairs ILPA,” the Institutional Limited Partners Association.


Kelsey Morgan

Total Score: 79/100

The market is “just waiting” for Morgan to be a CIO, and he’d be a “very good pick.” He is “a little bit on the young side,” but “pretty polished — a double degree from Dartmouth helps,” as does a two-year stint at Michael Bloomberg’s family office. But as one recruiter warns, “it’s much harder to get the CIO role after you’ve been passed over,” which Morgan reportedly was when Alice Ruth took over from Pamela Peedin in 2017. “A little pause for thought there — but just a little.”


Kathryn Graham

Total Score: 80/100

“Effectively the No. 2” in command at USS, Graham is “very well thought of” in the industry, having done everything from managing hedge funds to spearheading the design of a new defined contribution plan. If she has a weak point, it’s her relationships with external managers — as head of strategy coordination, she’s not directly involved in manager selection.


Jane Dietze

Total Score: 73/100

Dietze — with a resume that includes Fortress Investment Group and venture firms NextPoint Partners and Columbia Capital — comes highly recommended by most recruiters. She began working at endowments in 2012, when she joined Bowdoin College as director of private equity. Now the second-in-command at Brown, Dietze also serves on the investment committee of the U.S. Soccer Federation.


Timothy Dolezal

Total Score: 84/100

Notre Dame “born and bred,” Dolezal is often viewed as CIO Scott Malpass’s “heir apparent,” though recruiters note that the young-for-his-tenure Malpass is “not retiring any time soon.” Still, they say Dolezal — with his great people skills and technical experience — is “going to be a CIO somewhere.”


Donna Snider

Total Score: 87/100

One of the highest paid employees at Kresge, Snider’s compensation — nearly $635,000 in 2016 — “speaks for itself.” The former actuary is a “specialist at very complex asset classes” and a “highly effective” communicator. Her employer, in turn, is a foundation known for its “progressive” investments. Recommended by nearly every person consulted for this list, Snider is a “strong No. 2 who will be a CIO somewhere.”


Jack Edmondson

Total Score: 78/100

Although Oxford’s endowment is “quite small” at £3 billion (US$4 billion), it is a “globally sophisticated platform” — setting up Edmondson as a “CIO of the future.” The deputy chief spent five years at a private equity firm before joining Oxford, and continues to have a “strong alts focus.” As a graduate of Oxford’s business school, however, recruiters believe Edmondson will wait for the “right CIO position” before leaving his alma mater.


Stephen Gilmore &Ed Hetherington (tie)

Stephen Gilmore’s Total Score: 74/100

The Future Fund restructured in March, eliminating the chief strategist role in favor of two deputy CIO positions. Gilmore — with his “broader, top-down investment style” and “deep fixed-income background” — was the shake-up’s biggest casualty. Although a free agent for now, the “incredibly intellectual, incredibly strong” Gilmore is unlikely to stay on the market for long, recruiters say.

Ed Hetherington’s Total Score: 74/100

This UPS pension alum has a “broad swath of experience now that he’s moved into the endowment side of the business”. Strengths include “strong” manager relationships — “always important for a candidate to be considered” for a CIO role — and “a very sharp, engaging personality.” Word is that he’s been “considered for a few leadership roles” but, as of now, “is content at UNC.”


Barbara Zvan

Total Score: 82/100

Zvan “is extremely experienced, very bright, even-keeled” — all the traits an institution desires in its head of risk, one of the hardest positions to fill, according to recruiters. Zvan’s dual risk/strategy mandate is rare, and the addition of responsible investing chief makes her job one-of-a-kind. She chairs the International Center for Pension Management, has taught at the University of Toronto’s business school, and advises the province on pension policy. “She could be the architect” of any pension fund.


Alistair Barker

Total Score: 76/100

“LEGIT,” as one recommender says. Barker has a prime pre-CIO role at Australia’s largest retirement fund, which is arguably the world’s best overall system. He’s been “on the radar” for a long time, “making a name for himself” that’s grown with AusSuper over the past decade. He’s praised as a “fantastic mentor,” strong public speaker, and “deep portfolio-wide thinker,” despite his relative youth. There’s “lots of talent — and money — in the Aussie market.”


Monica Lai

Total Score: 79/100

Lai is a “quiet star” with a “varied background” including roles in private equity and Pfizer’s corporate pension. Now at the Sloan Foundation, she “has huge responsibilities” in manager selection and due diligence — resulting in a high complexity score. Recruiters speak highly of her personality, leadership, and experience dealing with board members, the result of her “rich career history.”


Eduard van Gelderen

Total Score: 78/100

UC scored a “major coup” last year in attracting van Gelderen, the “world-class” CEO of APG Asset Management. As the former head of a “top-tier” Dutch fund responsible for nearly $500 billion, van Gelderen has serious board chops, as well as skill in balancing professional investing with public accountability. But UC’s “all-star” team has suffered notable exits of late, knocking a point off van Gelderen’s fund reputation score and piquing headhunter interest in those remaining.


Christy Richardson

Total Score: 75/100

In the heart of Silicon Valley, the “massive but under-the-radar” Hewlett Foundation pulls down “some of the best” returns in the business. CIO Ana Marshall “does a lot” as chief, including dealing with the “board, politics,” etc. — which lets her lean team grind at investing. “Hewlett doesn’t have a Yale-style leadership machine” to tutor Richardson on board wooing. But it does have an alpha machine, anchored by “supremely talented venture directors” — Richardson included.