Michigan State Endowment Begins Building Investment Team

Following Phil Zecher’s appointment as its first CIO last year, the endowment has hired two new investment officers.

Michigan State University’s (MSU) inaugural CIO has made his first senior hires, the university confirmed Tuesday.

Phil Zecher, who was appointed the $2.2 billion endowment’s first CIO in December, has announced the hiring of two investment directors: Julia Lee and Allen Huang.

Lee joins the fledgling investment office from the South Carolina Retirement System, where she focused on private equity and co-investments. Previously, she was a portfolio manager and convertible bonds trader for insurance company Allstate’s investment division.

Huang, meanwhile, was previously director of fixed income at the Indiana Public Retirement System, where he managed $11 billion in fixed income portfolios for system’s defined benefit and defined contribution plans. Huang’s responsibilities had included asset allocation, manager selection and evaluation, investment guideline and contract negotiation, and portfolio monitoring.

Huang’s prior roles include positions at Barclays and GE Capital.

“We are very pleased to have Allen and Julia join the MSU team,” Zecher said. “Each has significant experience both as allocators and on the direct investing side, which was important to me.”

Before Zecher’s appointment at the end of last year, the MSU endowment had been run by the university’s board of trustees and vice president of finance, along with outsourced-CIO and consultant Cambridge Associates.

Zecher, an MSU alum, had previously served on the MSU Foundation’s board of directors and board of trustees’ investment advisory subcommittee.

“The endowment has grown significantly over the last decade and so has the complexity of managing the investments,” Zecher said upon his appointment last December. “Having a CIO role will allow us to grow our internal talent and capabilities to identify investment opportunities that we might not have seen in the past.”