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Deputy CIO to Depart Texas Employees Retirement System

Sharmila Kassam said that she and ERS’s management have different viewpoints, and that the time is right to leave.

The Employees Retirement System of Texas is parting ways with deputy chief investment officer and longtime employee Sharmila Kassam. 

When reached late Tuesday by Institutional Investor, Kassam said she has not resigned but is in the process of “creating an orderly transition” out of the organization. ERS did not immediately respond to a request for comment on her upcoming departure and its succession plans.

“I’m proud of the achievements we’ve made and the team that I worked with,” Kassam said. “At the end of the day, the agency management and I see the world differently on how the agency should be run and how people should be managed.”

In 2008, Kassam joined ERS in Austin as the assistant general counsel for investments and securities, according to her LinkedIn profile. ERS promoted her at least twice, first to chief of staff and ultimately to deputy CIO. She has held that role since 2014 and reports to chief investment officer Tom Tull. 

Tull and Kassam’s team oversaw $28.2 billion in February, according to the retirement system’s website. The portfolio has returned 10.54 percent annualized (net of “reasonable costs”) over the last 10 years, on par with its benchmark, the website shows.

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Prior to her decade-plus spent in public service at ERS, Kassam practiced law in Silicon Valley, in addition to other roles. 

“The skills that I’ve learned here and experience I have from 15 years in the venture and corporate world make this a great time to go off and do some entrepreneurial things,” said Kassam. She added with a laugh, “I just have aged at a public pension more than I might have in a few years in the private sector.” 

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