Deputy CIO and Former NextGen Departs Texas Pension Fund

The alts-focused Sharmila Kassam moves to Funston Advisory Services.

Sharmila Kassam, a previous CIO NextGen and former deputy chief investment officer at the Employees Retirement System of Texas ($29.6 billion), has left the fund after more than 11 years.

“My focus now is pursuing my interests on a greater scale in the industry beginning with a portfolio of projects ranging from pension and investment governance to the perspectives of institutional investors in a challenging market,” she said in a Saturday post on LinkedIn.

Kassam recently started as a senior consultant at Funston Advisory Services, an advisor to public pensions, according to her page on the social media platform. But advising institutional clients is not all she plans to do. The investment professional’s LinkedIn post said she also has an “entrepreneurial endeavor” in the works, which she plans to announce next year.

Kassam’s allocation style is spread across a multitude of asset classes, but her area of expertise is private equity and credit. She was involved in the creation of all of Texas ERS’s alternative asset investment programs during her time at the pension plan.

Tom Tull, the fund’s CIO, called her a “reformed lawyer that is definitely Type A” in Kassam’s NextGen profile, highlighting her energy, and desire for advancing diversity, emerging managers, and better gender representation at institutions. “I consider Sharmila as an excellent resource in developing strategic direction, strategy, goals, and objectives for the investment program and its future,” he said.  

The fund has not announced a search or replacement, but a spokesperson said the position is “in transition.”

Kassam started in the fund as assistant general counsel of investments and securities, later promoted to chief of staff in 2012. She was named deputy CIO in 2014.

Kassam is the sixth NextGen from the inaugural class to change jobs within 12 months.

The most rewarding aspect to me is the intellectual stimulation of the investment strategies, structures, and working with the team we have to execute our investment program,” she said in her NextGen profile. 

Kassam, Tull, and co-worker Panayiotis Lambropoulos could not be reached for comment. The fund said it cannot comment on personal matters, such as Kassam’s tenure.


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