The Knowledge - ... Tiger Management, and the Tiger Cubs. In the endowments and foundations world, it

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  • 34 Chief Investment Officer / June 2015 Chief Investment Officer / June 2015 35

    “Follow your passion,” your mother likely told you. It turns out she was right. According to these six respected executive recruiters—some well established, some up-and-comers, all insightful—doing what you like, for the right reasons, is essential for career success. What else do they recommend? Read on. Or go ask your mother for more advice.

    Words of wisdom from the talent allocators.

    Deb Brown, Russell Reynolds Associates Leo Meggitt, Forster Chase Anne Keyser, David Barrett Partners

    The Knowledge David Barrett, David Barrett Partners Jane Marcus, Korn Ferry

    Art by John Cuneo / johncuneo.com

    Renee Neri, Heidrick & Struggles

  • Chief Investment Officer / June 2015 37 36 Chief Investment Officer / June 2015

    WITHOUT USING NAMES, WHAT IS THE BIGGEST MISSTEP YOU’VE SEEN BY AN ASSET OWNER IN BUILDING HIS OR HER CAREER?

    A lack of patience. But the flipside of that is lethargy. Fifteen years in the pension world can be too long.

    Speaking ill of a past employer and not taking ownership of a mistake, misstep, or blunder. There are people who will cast aspersions and make it look like it’s someone else’s fault. It’s just so unbecoming. For an asset owner in particular, a mistake might be taking what appears to be an industry spotlight role as a stepping stone when your heart isn’t really in it.

    People trading down in terms of quality of platform for the money or title—because it’s very hard to recover from that. What’s key is the quality of organization where you work. Don’t compromise on your platform in terms of the next step.

    Going to a public sector scheme. It doesn’t always work out badly, and there are some within the public sector (like the Pension Protection Fund) that are seen as good moves. But in at least one instance I’ve seen someone take a public sector scheme position—and it set him back years. He’s back on the right track now, which is great.

    In one instance in the insurance space, someone was about to get an offer but went off the rails when asked about compensation. They were way too cagey about what they currently made— and that leads people to think you’re being dishonest.

    Too many moves— it usually indicates you’re chasing the money. Oh, and lying on your résumé.

    THE MOST UNDER- AND OVERVALUED QUALITIES IN AN ASSET MANAGEMENT JOB CANDIDATE ARE…

    Overvalued: Current compensation. I will quote Warren Buffett: “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

    Undervalued: The proven ability to mentor, train, and promote staff. How do you treat the people underneath you?

    On a personal level, the most overvalued quality is charisma. It’s too easily confused with leadership, and many people lead from a quiet confidence. Professionally, manager selection can be overvalued. What’s undervalued is having a great network of leaders and mentors to rely on.

    The most overvalued is the undergraduate degree—who cares if I went to Yale and Columbia? I’m looking for academic achievement wherever you went, and how you levered it. Undervalued is what you can’t see on the résumé: communication skills.

    Undervalued: Humility. Overvalued: What’s another word for bullishness? Assertiveness? Assertiveness is often overvalued.

    Overvalued: Counter- intuitively, the ability to get things done. It’s not just what you do, but how you do it, that leads to persistent success.

    Undervalued: On the flipside, respect and cultural fit. You want to be a disrupter— but in the right way.

    A breadth of asset class experience can be undervalued—for so many people are really siloed. Breadth of asset class experience shows a breadth of thinking. The ‘soft’ skills can also be undervalued— and the bigger the team to lead, the more important this is. As for being overvalued, I call it the ‘But… but… but’ issue: The idea that a candidate wants to point to something that doesn’t really matter, when they should be looking for breadth.

    Deb Brown

    Leo Meggitt

    Anne Keyser

    David Barrett Jane Marcus

    Renee Neri

  • 38 Chief Investment Officer / June 2015 Chief Investment Officer / June 2015 39

    WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING SEARCH YOU’VE EVER UNDERTAKEN?

    The most challenging one was for multi-billion dollar pension search. There was someone on the trustee board who was extremely well regarded and well known in the city and among consultants—and was also known for being incredibly tough. A number of the candidates heard he was on the board and had a nervous giggle. We did find someone for the position in the end—but it could have been better if people hadn’t backed away due to his tough reputation.

    The most challenging position I’ve had to fill was backfilling a CIO who had risen to the top of his organization. We couldn’t replicate the new CIO, and we had to complement their strengths and weaknesses. It was tough—so tough that it brought about a very helpful conversation about restructuring the organization.

    Don’t take on a search where you don’t know exactly what you’re getting into. Know your client. In our business, it’s easy to get wrapped up into the next search, the next seat. To avoid that, don’t be greedy. Don’t take something on that you can’t sell yourself. [Editor’s note: Slightly better than Anne’s answer, but still.]

    There is no winning in answering this question! [Editor’s note: Much persistence was exhausted in attempting to get Anne to answer this question.]

    Like I’d tell the name! The most challenging one for me was a family office. It wasn’t a bad client at all, but a family office investment head can be drawn from such a diverse background, and this was its first CIO. It was an ‘I’ll know it when I see it’ search, and we had to kiss a lot of frogs—little ones, fat ones, round ones. It took a long time.

    KAUST, or the King Abdullah University of Science & Technology, in Saudi Arabia. When we were brought in, the school was just a dream on blueprints. $20 billion was bequeathed to rival the Harvards of the world. It had an iconic board, with brilliant finance people alongside some treasury experts from Saudi Aramco. They wanted the most brilliant minds in endowment and foundation land to be CEO and CIO of this new idea. As recruiters, we had to tell a story. It was challenging because no one had ever heard of them. If you name the big names in nonprofits, we went after them. The ultimate pick— Sindo Oliveros, from the World Bank—has done a splendid job.

    WHAT IS YOUR REACTION WHEN A CANDIDATE REACHES THE POINT OF RECEIVING WHAT YOU SEE AS A STRONG OFFER, THEN DROPS OUT?

    It was my fault. I didn’t manage the process. If the offer is fair and strong, and you’ve been managing relocation, spouses’ jobs, and all that, I don’t blame the candidate. I blame the recruiter. It can always fall apart if the client gives a poor offer—but if you’ve checked all the boxes, it’s on us. That’s what we get paid for.

    I hope I have a strong backup candidate!

    My reaction is disappointment. By that point, I think it’s important to understand where you stand. I generally mean it when I say I don’t end up angry—except if it’s clear that they’ve wanted an offer to get a counteroffer, but that’s only happened once or twice. My first thought would always be to look at why I didn’t see that coming.

    First of all, we try really hard to not let a client make an offer that won’t be accepted. We have tested it, tweaked it, and then both sides get what they want. Does it ever happen? Of course it happens. My reaction is disappointment. I don’t want to be played— and if we’ve orchestrated the search well, we have a close runner-up that the client will be equally happy with. Also, I’ve advised clients to not make an offer if I know the candidate is interviewing elsewhere—I don’t want that offer in their pocket!

    Disbelief. Massive amounts of frustration. The nature of the search hinges on human emotion—and that’s hard to anticipate. It’s not always possible, but to avoid being left at the altar you need to suss out all the risk factors. Flesh them out early and hit them repeatedly.

    It doesn’t happen very often, so my reaction is, ‘Something went wrong.’ But it’s an outlier.

  • 40 Chief Investment Officer / June 2015 Chief Investment Officer / June 2015 41

    WHICH SPECIFIC ORGANIZATIONS IMPRESS YOU WITH THEIR ABILITY TO DEVELOP CIO-LEVEL TALENT? AND PLEASE DON’T SAY THE YALE INVESTMENT OFFICE…

    Aberdeen Asset Management is good—they’ve got a great culture. Legal & General Investment Management as well. The best among the pension fund side is Universities Superannuation Scheme, I think.

    Because they are both strong at talent development in their own unique way, T. Rowe Price and BlackRock. On the asset- owner side, the MacArthur Foundation—under the leadership of Susan Manske— has great talent.

    In the traditional money management arena there are many examples, including Wellington, Capital Group, T. Rowe Price, Fidelity, Tiger Management, and the Tiger Cubs. In the endowments and foundations world, it hasn’t gotten to that level of scale. You ha