Zigzagging from Canada to Texas by way of Louisiana and Georgia, Courtney Powers mastered the art of building new relationships. Now the 41-year-old director of marketable alternatives for the University of Texas Investment Management Co. oversees 22 of the $36 billion endowment’s 45 partnerships with hedge fund managers. Powers grew up in Aurora, Ontario, just north of Toronto, and moved to New Orleans, his mother’s hometown, when he was a high school senior. Interested in a legal career, he earned a BA in English literature from the University of Georgia in 1995 but fell in love with the stock market while working with a broker to manage a small college fund that his grandparents had set up. Right after graduation, Powers joined the management training program in corporate lending at the New Orleans headquarters of Whitney National Bank, where he stayed for three years until becoming a financial adviser for Merrill Lynch & Co. in the same city. From 1999 to 2002 he worked as a telecom equity research analyst in New Orleans for Southcoast Capital, now Capital One Securities, before completing an MBA in finance at the University of Texas at Austin. After graduation in 2004, Powers laid down roots in Texas and began working in the mergers and acquisitions department at SBC Communications, now AT&T, in San Antonio. In 2007, the year he married his wife, Lauren, Powers joined the hedge fund team at UTIMCO as an associate. Today the Austin-based endowment allocates a whopping 33 percent of its portfolio to hedge funds, up from 28 percent when he started. The six-member hedge fund group manages almost $11.5 billion, making UTIMCO the biggest endowment allocator to the asset class.