The Fiftyfaces Podcast

Aoifinn Devitt

A series that showcases the diversity and richness of the investment world through showcasing inspiring investors and their stories.


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Episode 159: Series 5 2022 Trailer: Celebrating our Diversity
06-09-2022
Episode 159: Series 5 2022 Trailer: Celebrating our Diversity
As we bring our third series and second full year of podcasting to a close we have assembled a library of over 170 diverse role models in this series.  As the macro backdrop churns these dynamic personalities are our touchstones, our human constants, through the market noise.  In Series 5 of 2022 we hear from leaders from large institutions, a charity, a sovereign wealth fund, as well as a strategist at a global asset manager, a purveyor of inclusive capital, a partner at a consulting firm who successfully came back as a "returner", a financial journalist and an ex navy aviator.The guests in Series 5 are: David Holmgren is Chief Investment Officer at Hartford Healthcare, based in Connecticut, and has had over 30 years of experience in running both internal and external investment portfolios in a range of settings. Aside from being a nonprofit CIO, David also serves on the investment board for the Hartford Community Foundation. James Brooke-Turner is director of Yoke and CEO and investment director of the Nuffield Foundation, based in the UK. He was voted one of the inaugural for inspiring leaders in the voluntary sector, and writes about financial governance for charities.Geri McMahon is a partner at AON and Co-head of Responsible Investment at the firm. She started her career at Price Waterhouse Coopers in Sydney, and spent time as a fixed income trader before moving to a healthcare technology, business and ultimately moving to AON in 2018. She wrote a powerful LinkedIn post about returners, which led me to want to find out more about returnship programs and their value. In 2019, she was awarded the most inspiring returner at the professional pensions, women and pensions awards after her first year returning.Blair Smith is senior director of the Center for Financial Markets at the Milken Institute, where he leads the center's access to capital and strategic innovative financing initiatives to enhance economic and social impact. Prior to joining Milken, he was an adjunct professor at the Columbia Business School. He's the former Chief Investment Officer for the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation, a CDFI and was the founder and CEO of Prometheus AB strategies, LLC, a strategic consultancy focused on helping diverse lead asset management firms achieve their goals. He's a member of the Real Estate Executive Council and is a 2019 Council of Urban Professionals Finance Catalyst recipient.Emma Jane Joyce is a sustainability specialist at the National Treasury Management Agency based in Dublin. She spent most of her career at the agency holding roles such as Head of responsible investment and investment director. She's a member of the Ireland steering committee of the CDP global environmental reporting system.Terri Duhon is an award winning educator, TEDx speaker, Board Director and speaker, who has over 25 years of experience in financial markets. She wrote the book "How the trading floor really works",  founded her own financial markets trading firm, and is an Associate Fellow at the Said Business School in Oxford. She sits on the Board of Morgan Stanley International, where she is Chair of the Risk Committee, and also holds a number of additional independent director roles. Dr. David Kelly is Chief Global Strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management, a position he has held for over 14 years.  He lives in Massachusetts. He was previously economic advisor at Putnam Investments, and prior to that held a range of roles in the financial services industry.  Originally from Dublin, like myself, he's a PhD in Economics from Michigan State University. Eugene O"Callaghan is a business and investment advisor based in Dublin, where he advises a range of asset managers and sovereign wealth funds on strategic initiatives. He was formerly Director of the Irish Strategic Investment Fund and prior to that Director of the National Pensions Reserve Fund of Ireland. He started his career as an accountant.Preeti Singh was until recently an LP reporter in the private equity area at the Wall Street Journal. She graduated from the Graduate School of journalism at Columbia University, and has worked in a range of roles and financial journalism. She has spent time as a Content Manager for publishing company in executive search prior to entering journalism, and is known for her ability to cultivate deep relationships across the industry, and to get the first scoop and industry moves. Julie Cane is CEO of Democracy Investments.    The firm uses a proprietary algorithm to drive capital flows toward the economic growth of democratic countries and away from authoritarian states. She has had an over 20 year background in financial services where she has developed market leading innovations at Wells Fargo, Charles Schwab Advisor Services, SEI Investments and Autodesk Ventures.  She began her career as a US Naval Aviator flying the SH03 Sea King helicopter.  Among her other roles, Julie is Chairman of the Board of Swords to Plowshares, a nonprofit helping over 3000 military veterans, and she is currently Captain in the California State Guard.
Episode 169: Richard Okello of Sango Capital - From Radical Candor to Opportunity in Abundance
17-10-2022
Episode 169: Richard Okello of Sango Capital - From Radical Candor to Opportunity in Abundance
Richard Okello is CEO and Co-founder at Sango Capital, an investment firm he founded 10 years ago that has a particular focus on investing in Africa.  He previously was a principal at Makena Capital, and prior to that in a series of roles at Bridgewater Associates. He sits on several fund advisory boards, portfolio company boards as well as the boards of the African Leadership Foundation and Human Horizons Foundation.Our conversation starts with reflections on Richard's  extraordinary upbringing in Uganda, where as a young boy he started arbitraging the price of chickens at 12 years old, then campaigned for and succeeded in the abolition of caning in his school.  His predisposition for adventure continued when he attended Swarthmore College in the US and took on an extra strenuous workload, and then the demands on his time were amplified when he became the legal guardian to his three young sisters, when still in his teens himself.  Juggling these extraordinary duties and his new duties as a parent led to a zealous career focus and he found a welcome home in Bridgewater Associates, which was his first foray into the world of finance of investing.We spend some time discussing the work environment there at Bridgewater, which is known for its radical candor, and learn how this was a good fit for him.  We turn then to his move into the newly founded Makena Capital, an outsourced CIO, and how this was the foundation for his interest in investing in Africa.We discuss Sango Capital then and its origins, and how the opportunity set presents in Africa and how ESG considerations are woven in from the outset. Finally we turn to his reflections on his career so far, how his faith grounds him and where he expects the opportunities to invest in Africa will lie in the years ahead.This episode is being released as a bonus episode and fill feature in 2023 in our main investment focused series as well as in a special Africa focused series in 2023.
Episode 168: Julie Cane of Democracy Investments: Charting a Course from the Bottom Up
11-10-2022
Episode 168: Julie Cane of Democracy Investments: Charting a Course from the Bottom Up
Julie Cane is CEO of Democracy Investments.  The firm uses a proprietary algorithm to drive capital flows toward the economic growth of democratic countries and away from authoritarian states.  Julie has had an over 20 year background in financial services where she has developed market leading innovations at Wells Fargo, Charles Schwab Advisor Services, SEI Investments and Autodesk Ventures.  She began her career as a US Naval Aviator flying the SH03 Sea King helicopter.  Among her other roles, Julie is Chairman of the Board of Swords to Plowshares, a nonprofit helping over 3000 military veterans, and until recently was Captain in the California State Guard. Our conversation starts with Julie's naval training and some of the situations she found herself in - requiring split second decisions, composure under pressure and leadership.  We speak about the diversity in the military during her career and how it evolved since then.  We transition then to what inspired Julie to enter the world of finance and how the desire to make an impact was central to this.  We explore this further - looking at the kind of impact that is possible in finance.Democracy investments uses its proprietary algorithm to detect and direct capital to countries with demonstrated hallmarks of democracies, but as our democratic ideals are not universally shared, I asked her how dynamic (or static) these classifications were. What follows is a fascinating discussion about what makes a successful democracy and we then reflect on the values and learnings from her career in the military as a means to understand this more fully.  We end with Julie's reflections on the people and ideas that have inspired her, and reflect on the part we play as individuals in the whole.  You won't want to miss this part of the discussion. Series 5 is sponsored by Astarte Capital Partners, an asset management firm focused on sustainable real asset sectors, acting as anchor investor and partner to specialist emerging managers. Astarte is headquartered in London with a presence in Sydney and Toronto.
Episode 167: Dr. David Kelly: Chief Global Strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management - Combatting Market Lows with a Runner's High - Making the Complex Clear
05-10-2022
Episode 167: Dr. David Kelly: Chief Global Strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management - Combatting Market Lows with a Runner's High - Making the Complex Clear
Dr. David Kelly is Chief Global Strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management, a position he has held for over 14 years.  He lives in Massachusetts. He was previously economic advisor at Putnam Investments, and prior to that held a range of roles in the financial services industry.  Originally from Dublin, like myself, he's a PhD in Economics from Michigan State University. Our conversation starts with our remarkably similar upbringings in Ireland - we were both the children of politicians, we both studied initially in Dublin and then embarked on a career in the US. And we both are keen runners, lovers of literature and making the complex simple.  After completing his undergraduate degree in University College Dublin, David embarked upon further study for a PhD in the mid-west.  We discuss what led him from academia to putting his skills into practice in a more commercial setting, and discuss his passion for markets and especially for translating them in ways that are relatable and accessible to his wide range of followers. Our discussion touches then on today's markets, and how to contextualize them. We examine the global backdrop and the challenges that clients face, and ultimately how to communicate with clients, especially during times of market stress.  We ask whether this is in fact a "regime change" that we are witnessing, or whether this is a term that is over-used, especially today. Along the same lines we examine the rise in interest in ESG investing, and dissect what that term really means.  We turn then to examining the diversity of the investment profession and how that has changed over David's career. In discussing teams, we move to the question of management and discuss the satisfaction that David derives from managing a broad team that is globally based, and how important it is to "believe in" the talent of team members and communicate this to them.  We finally touch on the passion that David and I share for running and he shares a little of "what I think about when I think about running", which every runner among our listeners will relate to.Series 5 is sponsored by Astarte Capital Partners, an asset management firm focused on sustainable real asset sectors, acting as anchor investor and partner to specialist emerging managers. Astarte is headquartered in London with a presence in Sydney and Toronto.
Episode 166: Preeti Singh - Private Equity Reporter - On the Pulse of a People-Driven Industry
03-10-2022
Episode 166: Preeti Singh - Private Equity Reporter - On the Pulse of a People-Driven Industry
Preeti Singh was until recently an LP reporter in the private equity area at the Wall Street Journal. She graduated from the Graduate School of journalism at Columbia University, and has worked in a range of roles and financial journalism. She has spent time as a Content Manager for publishing company in executive search prior to entering journalism, and is known for her ability to cultivate deep relationships across the industry, and to get the first scoop and industry moves. Our conversation starts with Preeti's first focus in her education and her initial (negative) experience with interviewing for positions in journalism.  We hear about her move to the US, her early days writing in a library and how she pursued a masters at one of the most prestigious journalism programs in the US. She describes her experience in that program and in emerging from it - and the challenges she perceived due to being older than many of her cohort at that stage.We speak then about how she discovered the private equity LP community and built trust therein.  We ask what makes this area "tick" and the importance of relationships, trust and transparency. Ultimately this is a podcast about the power of storytelling - Preeti's own extraordinary story, and the next chapter she is about to write, the enduring power of storytelling in order to connect with readers and to express the zeitgeist, and the fact that traditional values of decency, protecting sources and protecting confidence will continue to endure.Series 5 is sponsored by Astarte Capital Partners, an asset management firm focused on sustainable real asset sectors, acting as anchor investor and partner to specialist emerging managers. Astarte is headquartered in London with a presence in Sydney and Toronto.
Episode 165: Eugene O'Callaghan: Under the Hood at a State Fund and How it Charts the Economic Heartbeat of a Nation
28-09-2022
Episode 165: Eugene O'Callaghan: Under the Hood at a State Fund and How it Charts the Economic Heartbeat of a Nation
I'm joined today by Eugene O'Callaghan, who is a business and investment advisor based in Dublin, where he advises a range of asset managers and sovereign wealth funds on strategic initiatives. He was formerly director of the Irish Strategic Investment Fund and prior to that Director of the National Pensions Reserve Fund of Ireland. He started his career as an accountant. Our conversation starts with Eugene's early career and an adventure that took him to New Zealand for a period of time. We compare the Irish and the New Zealand economies as they stood at that time and trace then his move back to Ireland and his early years with the National Pensions Reserve Fund of Ireland.  Eugene charts his time at the fund by reference to the economic backdrop that prevailed in the country at the time, and as such, what follows is a fascinating insider's view into the country's economic history. One of the aspects of Eugene's career that I have most admired is his ability to pivot as the macro backdrop and governmental policy has dictated, this occurred after the financial crisis in 2008 when the NPRF fell in value and pivoted towards investing domestically via the Irish Strategic Investment Fund. We speak about the opportunity set in investing in Ireland and some of the limitations that come with size.The need for the state fund to reflect the state's policy around sustainability was another pivot, and this saw sustainability be integrated across the entire fund portfolio during Eugene's time in leadership.  We speak about what this meant in terms of the investment opportunity. The pandemic saw yet another need to pivot, this time towards investing in companies affected by the pandemic, via a Pandemic Response Fund.  The need for this fund was, thankfully, time bound, but we speak about what that kind of investment necessitated.Now retired from ISIF and a strategic advisor to a number of entities, including other Sovereign Wealth Funds, we speak about the unique nature of many of these funds and the way investments are approached. We discuss then some of the inspiring figures in his career, and how he learned the importance of "getting points on the board" early.  This is a rich and fascinating discussion that spans many decades of economic ups and downs and never failing to fashion a response that works.Series 5 is sponsored by Astarte Capital Partners, an asset management firm focused on sustainable real asset sectors, acting as anchor investor and partner to specialist emerging managers. Astarte is headquartered in London with a presence in Sydney and Toronto.
Episode 164: Geri Mc Mahon of AON - How Returning to a Finance Career can be Triumphant
26-09-2022
Episode 164: Geri Mc Mahon of AON - How Returning to a Finance Career can be Triumphant
Geri McMahon is a partner at AON and Co-head of Responsible Investment at the firm. She started her career at Price Waterhouse Coopers in Sydney, and spent time as a fixed income trader before moving to a healthcare technology, business and ultimately moving to AON in 2018. She wrote a powerful LinkedIn post about returners, which led me to want to find out more about returnship programs and their value. In 2019, she was awarded the Most Inspiring Returner at the Professional Pensions, Women in Pensions Awards after her first year returning. Our conversation starts with her upbringing, which spanned Hong Kong and Sydney, and the advice she received as a teenager to focus on becoming financially independent. We then trace her early career in finance and how the lack of other women and role models led her to feel less included and why she is now so passionate about inclusion.  After various career pivots and breaks, when Geri wished to return to finance, she had a varied experience with recruiters and executive search firms as well as the application process.  One particular recruiter, though, changed the game, by selectively matching Geri, as an experienced returner, with a group of employers seeking the level of experience she brought and willing to offer a returnship program along with the skills training that would address any gaps.  She relates how one senior partner advised her to never underestimate the value that she brought to the firm just because she had had a different path.  She talks about impostor syndrome she felt, and how the support she received enabled her to overcome that.  Series 5 is sponsored by Astarte Capital Partners, an asset management firm focused on sustainable real asset sectors, acting as anchor investor and partner to specialist emerging managers. Astarte is headquartered in London with a presence in Sydney and Toronto.
Episode 163: Blair Smith of the Milken Institute - Thinking and Doing in the Field of Inclusive Capital
21-09-2022
Episode 163: Blair Smith of the Milken Institute - Thinking and Doing in the Field of Inclusive Capital
Blair Smith is Senior Director of the Center for Financial Markets at the Milken Institute, where he leads the Center’s Access to Capital and strategic innovative financing initiatives to enhance economic and social impact.   Prior to joining Milken he was an adjunct professor at the Columbia Business School. He is the former Chief Investment Officer for the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation, a CDFI and was the Founder and CEO of Promethean AB Strategies LLC, a strategic consultancy focused on helping diverse led Asset Management firms achieve their goals. He is a member of the Real Estate Executive Council and is a 2019 Council of Urban Professionals (CUP) Finance Catalyst recipient. We start with Blair's upbringing which saw him split his time between Annapolis and Baltimore in Maryland  - a shift between big city and small town life.  He took what his friends describe as the "weedy path" into finance, starting out in journalism and ultimately moving in to impact investing.  We speak about the field of journalism and how it is evolving, and the lessons he learned there that he imported into his role in finance. We discuss then his role at the Milken Institute, and how it is set up as not just a Think Tank but at Think and Do Tank.  We dive into defining the concept of inclusive capital: Inclusive Capital is a belief in the concept that diversity creates long term value that benefits all stakeholders. So not just businesses and investors but also employees, customers, governments and communities. The second aspect of inclusive capitalism is that it produces equitable, measurable and sustainable growth that empowers others while addressing many of society's needs. And then finally, that inclusive capitalism enables stakeholders to participate in the capital markets structure to support both the end beneficiary as well as keeping an eye on the bottom lineThe Milken institute believes in convening the right people in the room.  We move to the imperative of ensuring more diversity in the workplace, not just because diverse teams perform better, but because they are likely to more nimble, more adaptable and more able to pivot two the dynamic changes happening in the workplace today. Series 5 is sponsored by Astarte Capital Partners, an asset management firm focused on sustainable real asset sectors, acting as anchor investor and partner to specialist emerging managers. Astarte is headquartered in London with a presence in Sydney and Toronto.
Episode 162: Emma Jane Joyce of the National Treasury Management Agency - Lifelong Learning pursued Sustainably
19-09-2022
Episode 162: Emma Jane Joyce of the National Treasury Management Agency - Lifelong Learning pursued Sustainably
Emma Jane Joyce is a sustainability specialist at the National Treasury Management Agency based in Dublin. She spent most of her career at the Agency holding roles such as Head of Responsible Investment and Investment Director. She's a member of the Ireland steering committee of the CDP Global Environmental Reporting System. We start with Emma Jane's university education which was in the field of science and genetics.  Although she didn't know it then, it would end up preparing her well for a career in investing that quickly started to move in the direction of sustainable investing and ESG standards.  After a stint in investment consulting Emma Jane came to the National Treasury Management Agency and we discuss the leadership role that that organization has held in implementing policy and setting the standard in terms of divestment and ESG integration. We speak about the organization's goals, how they are evolving and how they are measuring progress against them. We speak about the characteristics that are required to pursue a career in sustainability, which often has long-dated goals and challenging aspirations. Emma Jane describes these as patience, stubbornness, resilience and optimism. She acknowledges the role played by Eugene O'Callaghan, another guest in this series, with whom she overlapped at the NTMA, and how he encouraged her in her career as well as the influence of her mother - a climate warrior who made an impression from a very early stage. Series 5 is sponsored by Astarte Capital Partners, an asset management firm focused on sustainable real asset sectors, acting as anchor investor and partner to specialist emerging managers. Astarte is headquartered in London with a presence in Sydney and Toronto.
Episode 161: James Brooke Turner of the Nuffield Foundation - A Charitable Outlook - from the Ancient Greeks to A Plinth on Trafalgar Square
14-09-2022
Episode 161: James Brooke Turner of the Nuffield Foundation - A Charitable Outlook - from the Ancient Greeks to A Plinth on Trafalgar Square
James Brooke Turner is Director of Yoke and Co and Investment Director of the Nuffield Foundation. He was voted one of the inaugural four Inspiring Leaders in the Voluntary Sector and writes about financial governance for charities. Our conversation starts with his study of art history, how he found that discipline and the perspective and insight it gave him for his ultimate career in finance.We spend some time diving into the dynamics of investing as a charity, and differentiate it from managing a pension.  Whereas in the realm of pension fund investing the focus is on the future and liabilities, in the case of a charity the focus is on the past and on staying true to the historic mission. We talk about how that translates into an extremely long time horizon, which enables the group to have a strong equity focus and make extensive use of private assets. Given James's extensive involvement in different committees, I asked him what it takes to be a good chairman or board member.  He responded by referring to the ancient Greeks, where characteristics valued included things like curiosity, the ability to argue with each other and to disagree in a non confrontational way, the enjoyment of argument and discussion. Other traits included laughter because of its ability to diffuse situations and overall curiosity, respect, enthusiasm, and enjoyment. We finish with a description of an incident that was a reminder of the basic good in people, and James describes a time he participated in an art installation at Trafalgar Square. Standing there, vulnerable, and on display, he realized that most people are good and wish for the success of others.Series 5 is sponsored by Astarte Capital Partners, an asset management firm focused on sustainable real asset sectors, acting as anchor investor and partner to specialist emerging managers. Astarte is headquartered in London with a presence in Sydney and Toronto.
Episode 160: Terri Duhon: How to Dream Big, Fail Fast and Write Many Chapters of a Finance Career
12-09-2022
Episode 160: Terri Duhon: How to Dream Big, Fail Fast and Write Many Chapters of a Finance Career
Terri Duhon is an award winning educator, TEDx speaker, Board Director and speaker, who has over 25 years of experience in financial markets. She wrote the book "How the Trading Floor Really Works", founded her own financial markets firm, and is an Associate Fellow at the SAID Business School in Oxford. She sits on the Board of Morgan Stanley International, which she is Chair of the Risk Committee, and also holds a number of additional independent director roles. She is now based in London but hails from the New Orleans area originally.Our story starts there - with Terri's upbringing in Louisiana, in the South of the US and how this was an additional reason that she felt like an "other" when she came to studying math at MIT and then Wall Street and a career on the trading floor of a major investment bank. This sense of being from a different socio-economic group was more visceral than being one of few women on the floor.  She spent close to 10 years in similar roles, and describes herself as mastering the art of reinvention - in that to date she has reinvented herself approximately every 10 years.Terri moved from the trading floor to founding her own firm, and then to her current chapter, which is in a series of board and committee roles.  She explains how challenging it was to break into this field initially, and how she almost gave up hope, and then experienced a breakthrough.  We spend some time on the question of what makes an effective board member and chairperson, and Terri delivers a mini-masterclass in the art (listen in particular from 6.21 to 9.09). Our conversation then turns to the industry and its "brand" and how it doesn't always appeal to a diverse set of candidates, sometimes because it emphasizes traits that aren't universal. Terri uses her vantage point in a business school to give insights into the current priorities of graduates entering the field.  She shares stories of her failures, and her triumphs, but always her humanity, and stresses how it is always our humanity we must stress in order to demystify the world of finance and make it more accessible.
Episode 159: David Holmgren of Hartford Healthcare: a Portfolio Story with Performance at the Heart
07-09-2022
Episode 159: David Holmgren of Hartford Healthcare: a Portfolio Story with Performance at the Heart
David Holmgren is Chief Investment Officer at Hartford Healthcare, based in Connecticut, and has had over 30 years of experience in running both internal and external investment portfolios in a range of settings. Aside from being a nonprofit CIO, David also serves on the investment board for the Hartford Community Foundation. Our podcast starts with David's journey into investing, his early work in education and what that taught him about communication, conveying complex concepts and patience. We hear about various detours his career took, and his reflections on these. He discusses the sense of duty he feels as CIO of a Non-Profit that is one of the largest employers in the area, and the pressure to perform, because an operating budget is depending on it. We spend some time discussing how the changing needs of a healthcare institution impact the portfolio and how he has had to flex the portfolio in the current macro environment.  He discusses adding to private credit to enhance income, and the kind of inflation protection that he has built through investing in asset-based infrastructure. We move then to examining the current mix of internal and external managers in the portfolio and how David has managed to achieve high-performance while pursuing certain responsible investing goals.  This gets us to a broader discussion of fees and governance, as well as team motivation and retention, and diversity across the investment world as a whole.We end by returning to some personal reflections and we look at the overlap between parenting skills and tending a portfolio. There are more than you may think!
Episode 159: Series 5 2022 Trailer: Celebrating our Diversity
06-09-2022
Episode 159: Series 5 2022 Trailer: Celebrating our Diversity
As we bring our third series and second full year of podcasting to a close we have assembled a library of over 170 diverse role models in this series.  As the macro backdrop churns these dynamic personalities are our touchstones, our human constants, through the market noise.  In Series 5 of 2022 we hear from leaders from large institutions, a charity, a sovereign wealth fund, as well as a strategist at a global asset manager, a purveyor of inclusive capital, a partner at a consulting firm who successfully came back as a "returner", a financial journalist and an ex navy aviator.The guests in Series 5 are: David Holmgren is Chief Investment Officer at Hartford Healthcare, based in Connecticut, and has had over 30 years of experience in running both internal and external investment portfolios in a range of settings. Aside from being a nonprofit CIO, David also serves on the investment board for the Hartford Community Foundation. James Brooke-Turner is director of Yoke and CEO and investment director of the Nuffield Foundation, based in the UK. He was voted one of the inaugural for inspiring leaders in the voluntary sector, and writes about financial governance for charities.Geri McMahon is a partner at AON and Co-head of Responsible Investment at the firm. She started her career at Price Waterhouse Coopers in Sydney, and spent time as a fixed income trader before moving to a healthcare technology, business and ultimately moving to AON in 2018. She wrote a powerful LinkedIn post about returners, which led me to want to find out more about returnship programs and their value. In 2019, she was awarded the most inspiring returner at the professional pensions, women and pensions awards after her first year returning.Blair Smith is senior director of the Center for Financial Markets at the Milken Institute, where he leads the center's access to capital and strategic innovative financing initiatives to enhance economic and social impact. Prior to joining Milken, he was an adjunct professor at the Columbia Business School. He's the former Chief Investment Officer for the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation, a CDFI and was the founder and CEO of Prometheus AB strategies, LLC, a strategic consultancy focused on helping diverse lead asset management firms achieve their goals. He's a member of the Real Estate Executive Council and is a 2019 Council of Urban Professionals Finance Catalyst recipient.Emma Jane Joyce is a sustainability specialist at the National Treasury Management Agency based in Dublin. She spent most of her career at the agency holding roles such as Head of responsible investment and investment director. She's a member of the Ireland steering committee of the CDP global environmental reporting system.Terri Duhon is an award winning educator, TEDx speaker, Board Director and speaker, who has over 25 years of experience in financial markets. She wrote the book "How the trading floor really works",  founded her own financial markets trading firm, and is an Associate Fellow at the Said Business School in Oxford. She sits on the Board of Morgan Stanley International, where she is Chair of the Risk Committee, and also holds a number of additional independent director roles. Dr. David Kelly is Chief Global Strategist at JP Morgan Asset Management, a position he has held for over 14 years.  He lives in Massachusetts. He was previously economic advisor at Putnam Investments, and prior to that held a range of roles in the financial services industry.  Originally from Dublin, like myself, he's a PhD in Economics from Michigan State University. Eugene O"Callaghan is a business and investment advisor based in Dublin, where he advises a range of asset managers and sovereign wealth funds on strategic initiatives. He was formerly Director of the Irish Strategic Investment Fund and prior to that Director of the National Pensions Reserve Fund of Ireland. He started his career as an accountant.Preeti Singh was until recently an LP reporter in the private equity area at the Wall Street Journal. She graduated from the Graduate School of journalism at Columbia University, and has worked in a range of roles and financial journalism. She has spent time as a Content Manager for publishing company in executive search prior to entering journalism, and is known for her ability to cultivate deep relationships across the industry, and to get the first scoop and industry moves. Julie Cane is CEO of Democracy Investments.    The firm uses a proprietary algorithm to drive capital flows toward the economic growth of democratic countries and away from authoritarian states. She has had an over 20 year background in financial services where she has developed market leading innovations at Wells Fargo, Charles Schwab Advisor Services, SEI Investments and Autodesk Ventures.  She began her career as a US Naval Aviator flying the SH03 Sea King helicopter.  Among her other roles, Julie is Chairman of the Board of Swords to Plowshares, a nonprofit helping over 3000 military veterans, and she is currently Captain in the California State Guard.
Episode 158: Steve Kim of Verdis Investment Management - Weaving Technology and Data to Discover What Lies in the Variance
04-08-2022
Episode 158: Steve Kim of Verdis Investment Management - Weaving Technology and Data to Discover What Lies in the Variance
Steve Kim is a partner in investment strategy and risk management at Verdis Investment Management in the Philadelphia area. He has focused over 30 years in his career in implementing and managing operating infrastructures. Prior to his role at Verdis held various Chief Technology Officer roles. He now focuses on integrating his insight from systems modeling and data analysis into an investment approach, particularly in the venture capital arena. We start with Steve's upbringing and early education and ask how his various Chief Technology Officer roles evolved over time to embrace data and AI, and what the key challenges for such roles are today.We move then to discuss the insights he brings from this background into investment management, and how he initially underestimated the randomness of returns and the degree to which modeling was a challenge.  His philosophy on life - as well as venture capital - is that variance is where the unicorns lie, that it is only by focusing on achieving maximum variance that we can hope to happen upon true winners.  This is just as true for the value of diversity within organizations. We focus then on how to achieve scale and efficiency while also achieving variance, which can be a challenge. Our conversation turns to ESG and Steve's view that technology has greatly accelerated engagement, transparency and the integration of an ESG lens when investing. This is an alluring concept, and one that has not been particularly well developed in the current debate.Our conversation ends, as usual, with reflections - the reminder to stay humble, and to avoid overly-simplistic reductionist thinking. This is an exceptionally rich and multi-layered discussion like a complex operating system, but one that bears scrutiny, for the many areas of utility it can touch. Series 4 was sponsored by Alvine Capital.  Founded in 2005, Alvine Capital is a specialist advisor and placement boutique focusing on assisting European Institutional Investors within Alternative Investments.  It partners with best in class managers, adding value to investors by helping to navigate this very fragmented market
Episode 157: Matthew Sherwood, Ph. D. of WeVidit Media - Determination, Vision and the Power of Reframing
02-08-2022
Episode 157: Matthew Sherwood, Ph. D. of WeVidit Media - Determination, Vision and the Power of Reframing
Matthew Sherwood, Ph.D. is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of WeVidIt Media, a video streaming platform that leverages data and analytics for a more inclusive and profitable entertainment industry. We met while he worked as an asset allocator, where he headed up public market investments for MMBB Financial Services.  He has spent time as a guest lecturer and an appointed professor at Columbia University and The King’s College in New York, and has authored a textbook on the topic of ESG Investing. He is a board member of the Guide Dog Foundation and American Vet Dogs and serves on the Lavelle Fund’s Investment Committee.Matt lost his sight at the age of 24, and became legally blind within a matter of days.  We discuss how he pivoted from a practical perspective, which enabled him to continue his career and to thrive there.  We discuss the inclusion of people with similar disabilities in the professional world, and examine the massive advances in technology which are making access more seamless.  Biases and prejudices however are less  dynamic in changing and Matt reframes the term “persons with disability” as “persons with determination”.We discuss many of the organizations and advocacy groups that are furthering better inclusion and then move to discuss Matt’s current passion for WeVidIt, democratizing access to this form of investment and the fundamentals that underlie it.This podcast was previously released as a bonus in recognition of April 27 being International Guide Dog Day.Series 4 was sponsored by Alvine Capital.  Founded in 2005, Alvine Capital is a specialist advisor and placement boutique focusing on assisting European Institutional Investors within Alternative Investments.  It partners with best in class managers, adding value to investors by helping to navigate this very fragmented market
Episode 156: Jason Mitchell of MAN Group - On the Energy Trilemma, Indian Poetry and Creating a Sustainable Future
27-07-2022
Episode 156: Jason Mitchell of MAN Group - On the Energy Trilemma, Indian Poetry and Creating a Sustainable Future
Jason Mitchell is co-head of responsible investments at MAN Group, and the host of a Sustainable Future Podcast at the MAN Institute, a podcast that he has hosted since 2018, which has now passed its 55th episode. He writes and speaks widely on sustainability issues, as well as serving on a number of committees such as the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, and World Bank Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition.Our rich and multi-layered discussion starts with his early interest in literature and Indian poetry in particular. We hear how he majored in English but how serendipity led him to choose a career using his coding rather than an MFA at a prestigious US institution.  So commenced a fascination with finance and sustainability issues in particular, which saw him gain a bird's eye view into infrastructure projects in Sub-Saharan Africa and work alongside policymakers at the highest level. Jason's vantage point as an investor, podcast host and writer leads him to synthesize issues that may seem to be complex and multi-layered, and in particular he speaks about policy makers and governments facing an energy trilemma - the three-pronged challenge of how to make energy sustainable, affordable and secure. He integrates the imperative of not creating a class of "energy poor" with the challenges of pursuing a de-carbonizing and net zero agenda with the fluency of a poet. Jason concludes with an exhortation to focus on breadth and not depth, and to slow down to allow our careers to breathe a little. Series 4 was sponsored by Alvine Capital.  Founded in 2005, Alvine Capital is a specialist advisor and placement boutique focusing on assisting European Institutional Investors within Alternative Investments.  It partners with best in class managers, adding value to investors by helping to navigate this very fragmented market
Episode 155: Zia Uddin of Monroe Capital - The Art and Science of Investment Management
25-07-2022
Episode 155: Zia Uddin of Monroe Capital - The Art and Science of Investment Management
Zia Uddin is President of Monroe Capital LLC, an asset management firm headquartered in Chicago, which invests in middle market companies in North America through a range of products. Prior to joining Monroe he focused on middle market private equity investing for most of his career. Currently, he sits on a range of private company boards, as well as on the Board of a public company. We start out by discussing Zia's upbringing, which saw him spend time in Indonesia and South Korea, before returning to study at the University of Illinois. We move then to his current role at the helm of Monroe Capital, which runs over $14 bn in assets focused mainly on the middle-market segment - we discuss the opportunity in this segment, whether it is overlooked and the unique challenges and opportunities that focusing on it brings. We examine private capital through a lens of ESG investing, and ask what kind of protection it might offer in a rising rate and inflationary environment.After a detailed discussion of diversity in investment management we move to personal reflections and Zia shares the saying that "the problem with the world is that intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence" and we examine the problems of overconfidence among financial sector actors.We move then to one of Zia's passions, which is the Japanese art of Kendo.  We speak about the art aspect of martial arts, and what it taught him about "mind over matter", discipline, self-control and what lies beyond the border of physical limitations. Series 4 was sponsored by Alvine Capital.  Founded in 2005, Alvine Capital is a specialist advisor and placement boutique focusing on assisting European Institutional Investors within Alternative Investments.  It partners with best in class managers, adding value to investors by helping to navigate this very fragmented market
Episode 154: Eve Ellis of William Blair  - Why it is not yet "Game, Set & Match" when it comes to Gender Parity.
20-07-2022
Episode 154: Eve Ellis of William Blair - Why it is not yet "Game, Set & Match" when it comes to Gender Parity.
Eve Ellis is a wealth advisor with William Blair, and is based in the New York City Area. She has a particular interest in socially responsible and impact investments and manages two proprietary portfolios, the gender parity strategy, and the Matterhorn Affinity, Diversity and Inclusion strategy. She's also a member of the Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment. She has received multiple awards, including featuring on the Crain's New York Women and Financial Advice naugural list in 2020 as well as the Forbes America's Top Women Wealth Advisors best in state.Our conversation starts with Eve's background in playing competitive tennis - we discuss what that taught her about gamesmanship, playing to win, and discipline. We transition then to her calling to act as a private wealth advisor, and how she had the same instincts to "win" and deliver for her clients.  She had an early interest in investing with impact and developed the proprietary gender parity and diversity and inclusion strategies based on a high conviction that companies who prioritize these issues deliver better returns over time. We dig in to these strategies in particular and ask what she learned from developing them and whether there were any surprises. As a "feminist forever" Eve has had a unique perspective on the world of private wealth, as well as the workings of corporate America, its record in terms of gender parity and levels of wealth in the hands of women today. Eve wished me to note that her comments on this podcast were made in advance of the recent US Supreme Court Decision on Roe v. Wade.Series 4 was sponsored by Alvine Capital.  Founded in 2005, Alvine Capital is a specialist advisor and placement boutique focusing on assisting European Institutional Investors within Alternative Investments.  It partners with best in class managers, adding value to investors by helping to navigate this very fragmented market
Episode 153: Aaron Joseph of Blue Vista - Seizing the Day to Create Impact in Real Estate and Urban Centers
18-07-2022
Episode 153: Aaron Joseph of Blue Vista - Seizing the Day to Create Impact in Real Estate and Urban Centers
Aaron Joseph is Senior Vice President of Investor Solutions at Blue Vista Capital Management, a Chicago-based real estate investment manager focused in particular on middle market equity, student housing and real estate credit. He previously worked as Deputy Sustainability Officer in the Office of the Mayor in the city of Chicago, and as a Strategy Manager at Urban Partnership Bank focused on providing banking services for impact capital and urban real estate investors.Our conversation starts with Aaron's family upbringing, the promise of inclusion that brought them to the Oak Park area outside Chicago and his early interest in art history.  We trace his path to real estate, which actually meandered through engineering, which is where his interest in sustainability first took root. We follow his path into the Urban Partnership Bank, and the focus on impact that that had - whether to combat red-lining or extend credit to disenfranchised populations, many of whom were essentially "unbanked".  Aaron spent time in the high-profile Mayor's Office of the City of Chicago, where he saw the usual policy and political battles, but also the efficacy of some measures to ensure sustainable change and more equity. We move then to his current role at Blue Vista, and cycle through the various sectors that they focus on - including in particular student housing and more esoteric areas such as RV parks and self-storage.  We examine the rapidly changing dynamics in these areas and why the investment opportunity might be less obvious, but nonetheless compelling.We end with Aaron's reflections on his career to date, how his learnings in Latin at Oak Park and River Forest High School taught him to "carpe diem" or seize the day, and how the leaving his MBA studies during a financial crisis taught him some essential survival and adaptation skills professionally. Series 4 was sponsored by Alvine Capital.  Founded in 2005, Alvine Capital is a specialist advisor and placement boutique focusing on assisting European Institutional Investors within Alternative Investments.  It partners with best in class managers, adding value to investors by helping to navigate this very fragmented market
Episode 152: Cynthia Steer - An Investment Legend Reflects
13-07-2022
Episode 152: Cynthia Steer - An Investment Legend Reflects
Cynthia Steer has had a multi-decade career in investment management, spending time as an investment director, CIO, and Chief Retirement Strategist at a series of large consulting firms, and she now holds a broad range of investment committee and independent director roles.We start by discussing Cynthia's global career, which saw her based in the US but travel frequently around the world at the helm of strategy and research at prominent consulting firms.  We ourselves met on the investment conference circuit and we share how she has witnessed the investment management industry evolve over her career. We discuss the benefit of not remaining a generalist and of developing deep sector expertise, how every dollar counts ultimately, and how it is important to trust, but verify, when it comes to so-called market opportunities. Cynthia also shares stories of the coaches that influenced her in her very early years of growing up in Canada - the ice skating mentors to taught her to execute demanding technical exercises and "get up and try again" when she failed. She shares gems of wisdom shared by other legends in the investment management industry - who taught her to select a key number of topics each year to focus on and really develop deep expertise on - excellent advice for the dynamic world we live in.  Finally we reflect on some of the industry challenges around diversity and inclusion and Cynthia shares her own experience in this respect.  How sector and specialist expertise enabled her to distinguish herself and how she might now, upon reflection, wish she had carried a "softer stick" along the way. We explore what this means and what advice young women might take from that as they pursue a role in the industry.Series 4 was sponsored by Alvine Capital.  Founded in 2005, Alvine Capital is a specialist advisor and placement boutique focusing on assisting European Institutional Investors within Alternative Investments.  It partners with best in class managers, adding value to investors by helping to navigate this very fragmented market
Episode 151: John Bowman of CAIA - A Storyteller's Take on the Asset Management Industry at an Inflection Point
11-07-2022
Episode 151: John Bowman of CAIA - A Storyteller's Take on the Asset Management Industry at an Inflection Point
John Bowman is executive Vice President of the Caia Association, and a prolific writer and commentator on the investment management industry. He has written about the subject of culture, restoring the virtuous reputation of the industry and ensuring that dialogue and education are maximized, particularly in the area of alternative investing.Our conversation starts with his thoughts on being a "man without a country" - his peripatetic youth and how having family in the investment management industry formed an impression on him from an early age.  We jump straight in then to a host of issues on which he has a unique vantage point at the helm of an industry association committed to education, dialogue and ongoing improvement. We start with the controversial topic of alpha generation - whether it remains possible in an environment that is flooded with data, quickly updated news cycles and crowding out of certain strategies.  We focus in particular on the future for alternative assets - how these strategies are evolving and what are likely to become the most relevant strategies for the next decade.We move then to the critical area of culture within the investment management industries and firms in particular - looking at the divide between investment-led and sales-led firms and what an aspirational culture for the industry as a whole might be. We move then to the disruption that Covid wrought and how that has altered the state of the investment management industry and to the increased integration of ESG risks and evolution of ESG-focused strategies. We end then with a reflection on the mentors that have shaped him, the importance of faith in his life and trusting his own instinct. It is a wide-ranging discussion with particular relevance to the dynamic times we are living in.Series 4 was sponsored by Alvine Capital.  Founded in 2005, Alvine Capital is a specialist advisor and placement boutique focusing on assisting European Institutional Investors within Alternative Investments.  It partners with best in class managers, adding value to investors by helping to navigate this very fragmented market