Senior managing director Greg Milani is retiring from Stanford University’s investment office, a school spokesperson confirmed.
Milani is second-in-command to CEO Robert Wallace. The pair have executed a dramatic turnaround of the Stanford Management Company since joining in 2015.
SMC manages the university’s endowment and other assets, a portfolio totaling $29 billion as of last August.
The investment office had been plagued by turnover and cultural issues under former CEO John Powers, whose decade-long tenure abruptly ended at the end of 2014. Wallace took over the following year, dismissed nearly all of the remaining investment staff members, and hired Milani. The two worked together in their previous roles running Alta Advisers, a U.K.-based family office for the Tetra Pak fortune.
SMC’s team and portfolio have transformed under their leadership.
“Beginning in mid-2015, SMC initiated an effort to consolidate its external partner roster,” the 2018 annual report stated. “Our efforts included building fewer, more substantial positions with partners that demonstrate superior judgement, thorough processes, sound ethics, and a strong alignment of interest with the university.”
Having fewer manager relationships deepens the quality of each one, according to the report. “A better understanding of our partners’ work allows us to invest with conviction and contrarianism.”
The overhaul was predictably further along for liquid assets than illiquid, but the changes had already improved performance across the portfolio. SMC returned 11.3 percent in the year ending June 30, 2018, beating its benchmark by 370 basis points (3.7 percentage points) and the median U.S. endowment by 230 basis points.
It is unclear who will take over from Milani or when exactly he will retire. Stanford spokesperson Ernest Miranda did not answer these questions.
Some asset managers working with SMC have been informed of Milani’s upcoming retirement, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.