Novisi Nirschl Director, Non-Marketable Investments, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center New York, New York Art by Iris Lei
Novisi Nirschl

“Novisi brings private markets depth to our eclectic team’s disciplined investment process. Her prior experiences in private equity and investment banking, burnished by her academic achievements at Harvard and Stanford, positioned her to make contributions across our private assets complex as well as our public assets and portfolio construction efforts. Novisi is networked, persistent in pursuing managers, and insightful. Importantly, she believes in MSK’s mission and is a valuable team member.”

— Jason Klein, Senior Vice President and CIO, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

Novisi Nirschl’s experience in private equity, venture capital, real estate, and energy investments landed her a spot spearheading Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s private markets portfolio almost a decade ago. Nirschl’s alpha-generating strategies are centralized around evolving, progressive industries with significant demand that have a bright future. Nirschl also makes a point to keep a wide scope of investments, within the US and in flourishing markets that are ripe for investment at the moment, including regions such as India, China, and Southeast Asia.

She focuses on venture capital, private equity, natural resources, real estate, and opportunistic investments. She also provides significant leadership to the rest of the team at Memorial Sloan’s investment office, including providing coverage for public investments and the pension portfolio.

Her career spans across a multitude of responsibilities and organizations. She worked as a vice president at Fortress Investment Group, and as an associate at Partners Group and Lincolnshire Management. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard and an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

CIO: What makes 2019 an interesting investing climate? How are you handling it?

Nirschl: While the VIX Index is not showing it very clearly, there has been much uncertainty and volatility this year. It now also seems clear that the Fed will not be raising rates anytime soon (and may even cut rates) which provides a tailwind for US equities, but trade negotiations have added recurrent risks. We remain exposed to equities, but also have exposure to managers who can make tactical shifts to play any changing trends. 

CIO: After this year, what are the largest opportunities and the largest threats you see on the horizon?

Nirschl: Opportunities: We like sectors with continued tailwinds, with strong demand due to higher-than-average growth rates and those benefiting from innovations, including health care and technology. India’s demographics remain attractive and the much lower cost for mobile data may predict an ability to jumpstart the internet and technology sectors. While trade negotiations are a wild card, opportunities remain in China and Southeast Asia.

Threats: We are long in the tooth in terms of a bull market and so each day adds a little more risk. Additionally, the trade war negotiations are still unresolved and a negative turn here could lead to a sharp change in sentiment and reduced economic growth rates.

How did you arrive at your current position? And why did you choose this part of the financial services industry?

Nirschl: After working in mid-market private equity prior to business school, which provides relevant perspective and strengthened my analytics, I prioritized a career with a more macro orientation and flexibility to invest broadly. Additionally, I also valued the ability to have one client and was attracted to MSK’s mission since so many people at the organization deeply impact people’s lives. I was fortunate to make a connection through a peer in the sector and later learned that the team was looking to add an investment professional. Over my nine years on this team, my CIO, Jason Klein, has provided me with opportunities for growth and learning, which have exceeded my expectations. It’s been a privilege to work with my colleagues as well.

What was the most important strategic allocation of your career?

Nirschl: While I was at another organization during the financial crisis, the decision to have a higher exposure to hedged assets/funds in the public portfolio was quite important (and also was a factor for MSK’s portfolio) as it was key for downside protection in 2008/2009. This is likely to be important if similar events occur again.

Tips for money managers who want to work with you, especially what not to do.

Nirschl: A memorable meeting was when a manager answered his cell phone during the meeting. So this sticks out in terms of what not to do. He was a manager from another country and so likely followed some different protocol but I do know it hasn’t ever happened again.

Biggest goof a money manager has made with you? 

Nirschl: My name is not very typical and so sometimes people take a guess in emails. So one goof I recall has been to send me a message using Mr. instead of Ms. But for something like that I certainly don’t hold it against a manager. Most people I notice can find a way to simply avoid the use of a title though.

CIO: Who in the financial world would you like to have lunch with and why?

Nirschl: Warren Buffet because he is a great investor and has seen many cycles economically and politically. It would be great to tap his wisdom about what is happening today.

CIO: What are changes you’d like to see the institutional investing community make in 10 years?

Nirschl: There is good collaboration among LPs within given sub-segments (e.g., those within the endowment and foundation communities), but it would be even better if LPs could work towards common goals across segments as we would have a greater effect.

What are your hobbies not correlated to work?

Nirschl: Running (though current working through an injury), photography, architecture/design, gastronomy (a bit of a foodie), and travel.

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