Trailblazer, mentor and pension guru are apt terms to describe Myra Drucker. In 1982, when she took on the No. 2 spot at Xerox Corp.s then$2 billion defined benefit fund, there were few women managing sizable pension portfolios. Drucker had catapulted into that position after having her talents nurtured by a few prescient mentors of her own early in her career.
Recently dubbed a CIO academy by San Franciscobased headhunter Charles Skorina, Drucker has displayed a keen ability to develop talent, especially among women and minorities, and continues to provide guidance and support to several of her protégés. Successful former staffers include Mary Cahill, CIO at Emory University; Connie Caperella, assistant treasurer at Pitney Bowes; Matthew Wright, CIO at Vanderbilt University; and Joseph Boateng, CIO of the Casey Family Programs.
Drucker, who has a BA in literature and psychology from Sarah Lawrence College, didnt seem destined for a career in finance. Her first job was as a teacher in a Head Start program in 1968. The following year she moved to Random House as an editorial assistant, then became an editor in the childrens book division.
A move to Philadelphia in 1972 serendipitously landed Drucker in her first asset management role, but only after a stint as a secretary practically the only route into corporate America for women at the time. A savvy mentor at INA Capital Management gave her the opportunity to become a quantitative analyst. In 1977 she joined Drexel Burnham Lambert, where for three years she did pioneering work using quant-based strategies to actively manage equity portfolios for pension and endowment funds. Following a two-year stint as an investment consultant in New York, Drucker landed the No. 2 pension job at Xerox in Stamford, Connecticut.
In 1986, Drucker moved to International Paper Co. as director of trust investments at the forest product companys $3 billion pension fund, but in 1992, when Xerox needed a new CIO, she returned to her former employer. The next year she hit on a novel idea that would save corporate assets while putting more savings in the hands of defined contribution participants. Instead of selecting costly mutual funds to expand Xeroxs then-three-option 401(k) plan, Drucker created individual units in an asset pool managed by its defined benefit managers that could be sold to participants.
Like many technology stocks, Xerox hit the skids in 2000, its shares plummeting from a 1999 high of $60 to a low of $4 that December. Unable to compensate her staff competitively (as stock options became less appealing), Drucker turned to an outsourced solution. In 2001, Xerox transferred management of its pension fund to General Motors Asset Management, with Drucker as CIO of the trust investment committee that oversaw $140 billion in outsourced pension assets, while GMAMs W. Allen Reed retained the CEO and CIO positions at GMs pension fund.
Drucker retired from pension investing in 2004 and now spends much of her time on board work at Boeing Co., Kresge Foundation, GMO and Sarah Lawrence.