Opinion

The Power 100 Through the Ages

CalSTRS’ Chris Ailman pictures the Power 100 over the last four decades.

003 Christopher Ailman Hollywood has its Walk of Fame, baseball has Cooperstown, and football has Canton. It’s time for CIOs to have their own so-called Hall of Fame—let’s call it the ‘Power 100 of All Time.’ The criteria to be inducted is clear-cut: 1) He or she should be retired from serving as a CIO, and 2) would have consistently ranked in the top 100 back in the day.  

First caveat: This is far from an exhaustive single list. My experience is with public pensions, so I want to thank Britt Harris (Teacher Retirement System of Texas) for his suggestions from the corporate field. I hope this generates nominations of past CIOs from the endowment and non-US arenas (this list is woefully short of non-American asset owners). Send your recommendations to CIO’s editors. 

Second caveat: Unlike CIO’s Power 100, this list is not in any particular order—the first is as important as the last. You can’t compare CIOs from different decades because their environments were different and, heck, the job was different. 

Let’s begin by bending one of my rules. I think everyone would agree that the CIO Hall of Fame should start with this asset owner who hasn’t yet retired. He tops the Power 100 list and deserves every bit of recognition because he wrote the book on the endowment model. Yale’s David Swensen has held the investment chief position for over 30 years—the record for any CIO.  

Two others that immediately come to mind are Jack Meyer, who managed the Harvard Management Company for 15 years, and Marty Leibowitz of TIAA-CREF, who has retired from the CIO role, but not from the business. 

Back in the day, when corporations had defined benefit plans, there were several pioneers who set the pace for today’s CIOs:

  • John Carroll, pioneer of the mega-strategic partnership (GTE; now Verizon).
  • Allan Reed (General Motors).
  • Bob Angelica (AT&T).
  • Bill Quinn (American Airlines).
  • Myra Drucker (Xerox, General Motors).
  • William Green (Texas Instruments).
  • Ray Kanner, IBM’s newly retired CIO.

Leading the public fund list is the larger-than-life Howard Bicker of Minnesota’s State Board of Investment. You always knew when Howard was in the room; his bellowing laugh and plain talk caught everyone’s attention. Also notable:

  • Dan Smith, a rock solid CIO at Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS).
  • Jim George, also from Oregon PERS and preceding Dan. He got them started in private equity and helped form the Pacific Pension Institute, a nonprofit organization that educates institutional investors.
  • Steve Myers of the South Dakota Investment Council. He is a true statesman and built the fund into a true investment management shop. 
  • Dick Stoddard and Roland Machold of New Jersey’s pension. Dick had the foresight to fund an award that now bears his name.
  • Laura Wallace (Nevada PERS)—a winner of the Stoddard Award.
  • Ken Lambert, Laura’s protégé and eventual CIO of Nevada PERS.  
  • Rick Dahl of the Missouri State Employees’ Retirement System. Dahl is a recent retiree, but held court in Missouri with CEO Gary Findlay. Together, they made a powerful dynamic duo.  
  • Ken Codlin of State Universities Retirement System of Illinois.
  • Jeff States (Nebraska Investment Council). He quietly ran two different state funds and a California county fund across his 20-plus-year career.  

When it comes to mega-funds, the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) has had a number of top CIOs:

  • Greta Marshall. Not many recall the first CalPERS CIO from 1984. She was an inspiration to many women in investment management.
  • DeWitt Bowman is another gentleman of our industry. He joined the City and County of San Francisco Employees Retirement System upon leaving CalPERS.  
  • Sheryl Pressler for her sheer will of longevity in the job.  
  • Joe Dear. He was executive director of Washington State Investment Board for a decade before taking the CIO job at CalPERS during its darkest days. We lost a special person and a great peer in 2014. 

From outside the US:

  • Jim Leech up at Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan. When you hear “teachers’ retirement,” you know it’s about Ontario.  
  • Doug Pearce of British Columbia (BC). He converted the fund into the BC Investment Management Company.  
  • Else Bos of PGGM. She was first the CIO and is now the CEO.
  • Angelien Kemna of APG—now Chief Finance & Risk Officer but formerly one of the leading CIOs in Europe. 

There are dozens of other names that deserve to comprise this list, in particular from the endowment field and funds outside the US. We owe it to our peers of the ‘80s, ‘90s, and ‘00s to remember their contributions and efforts.    

Chris Ailman is CIO of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System.