Susan Yun Lee Managing Director of Investments, The Broad Foundations and Family Office
Susan Yun Lee
(Art by Victor Juhasz)

“Susan joined our team a year ago and made an immediate impact by taking the lead on several private and public investments. She is collaborative, focused and resourceful, which is critical since we are a small team covering a large, complex portfolio.” — K.C. Krieger, CIO

 

While she suspects we’re reaching “a turning point” in the cycle, Susan Lee is hopeful that economic fear won’t hinder innovative thinking and collaboration in 2019. The Stanford and Harvard grad and music lover manages the Eli Broad Foundation’s and family office’s $2.5 billion portfolio. Coming from a family office, Lee is used to wearing many hats, and appreciates the philanthropic work her firm’s returns provide.

Lee is excited about increasing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) awareness, as well as technological breakthroughs, and the support of emerging managers.  She believes a combination of data analyses, people assessment, a positive attitude, and creativity help her deliver alpha.

Lee’s career has spanned a breadth of experiences which inform her broad investing mandate today.  She started her career as an analyst with Robertson Stephens and MyFamily.com (now Ancestry.com), moving on to strategy roles with Bain & Co. and the Walt Disney Company, and then to private equity investing with Vintage Capital Group and Black Canyon Capital. Prior to her work with the Broad Foundation, Lee was a partner at Angeles Investment Advisors, where she steered the firm’s private equity division and managed its portfolio.

 
CIO: What are the accomplishments you are most happy to have achieved recently, and why?

Lee: We manage a diversified portfolio with a heavy emphasis on alternatives.  Recently, we’ve been more active in our liquid investments, including building a concentrated portfolio of direct public securities.  My career focus over the last decade plus has been on the private side, so taking on public markets investments as well has been a fun change.  It makes a lot of sense to compare investment opportunities across asset classes. 


CIO: What would you be most excited to accomplish in the year ahead, and why?

Lee: We may be at a turning point in the cycle.  There is no place to hide.  I would be excited if we think innovatively, continue to position our portfolio well, and find the best partners and investments to capture outperformance. 


CIO: What’s the most rewarding aspect of being an asset owner?

Lee: It’s an incredible honor and responsibility to be a steward of capital.  Knowing that our investment returns fuel giving that supports worthwhile initiatives makes my work meaningful beyond my own personal achievements.  The Broad Foundations supports the arts, health and scientific research, and education.  Working alongside passionate people doing good work, led by the vision and generosity of Eli and Edythe Broad, inspires me every day.  I’d like to leave the world a better place than I entered it.   


CIO: What’s the most challenging?

Lee: We are a small but nimble team.  We drink from the firehose every day to cover a lot of ground while also keeping details at our fingertips.  That balance takes constant effort.  Ultimately, the goal is to be creative and informed in order to execute the best investments.  We mine immense amounts of information to separate the wheat from the chaff, and then to ultimately pick the gems that are right for our portfolio.  It’s never a boring day scanning the universe for the best investments across strategies and determining the right allocation across the portfolios. I’m happy to be challenged every day.  


CIO: What are you most hopeful about in the future of the industry?

Lee: I think there is an increasing awareness that we can influence more than investment returns.  Whether it be along ESG initiatives, supporting emerging managers, or fueling groundbreaking technological innovation, it’s impossible not to get excited about what we will see in the future. We see evolution in our business as well with trends such as more investing brought in-house and fee structures that better align incentives. 


CIO: What are you most cautious about?

Lee: I’m cautious about applying the right weight to past data versus future predictive characteristics.  It’s important to study and understand history, but even more so to incorporate that understanding with what may have changed and how that will apply to the future. 


CIO: As a leader, what are the most important aspects of the industry you hope to change over your career?

Lee: I think we’ve reached a seminal point in the conversation around diversity.  As a limited partner, we are in a position where we can continue to highlight the issue and build conversation and consensus around ways to address it.  Individually, we can all make a difference by mentoring the next generation of leaders.      


CIO: If you had one piece of advice for your peers, what would it be?

Lee: Treat others well and help others along the way – it’s a better journey that way!  One thing I love about this industry is the collaboration and the interesting people I get to meet. 


CIO: What are the biggest current trends you are seeing that have surprised you?​

Lee: Protectionist policies in a global economy.