William And Flora Hewlett Foundation Encouraging Diversity In The Institutional Investing Space | Ana Marshall, Vice President & Chief Investment Officer | Q&A
Ana Marshall is the vice president and chief investment officer at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. She is responsible for asset allocation and strategic investment policy recommendation and implementation of the nearly $10 billion endowment portfolio.
In this interview, she discusses the very diverse investment team at the Hewlett Foundation; her 32 plus years of investment experience and how she gives back to the LP, GP community; and how the Foundation will continue to tackle equality initiatives.
Ana Marshall was recently named on Trusted Insight's 2019 Top 30 Foundations Investing In Diversity. This interview has been edited and condensed.
Trusted Insight: It’s been about two years since your last interview with us. What are some of the notable changes at the Hewlett Foundation?
Ana Marshall: In the last two years, we have implemented a big program on diversity and inclusion at the foundation. We took that into the investment team and thought about how we were hiring and how we were using our voices. We get a lot of requests to have us speak and, increasingly, we use those opportunities to promote diversity and inclusion.
We are a highly collaborative team, and one of the values that I've always operated with is inclusion and diversity in all forms – work, education, race, gender, etc. Every voice at the table counts and has to be heard in order to arrive at the best decision. In order to really have that work, you need to have the team come from diverse work backgrounds.
"My team has always been half women, half men so from that aspect we definitely get diverse points of view. We've got generational differences as well, which I think is huge."
We are eight investment professionals. Of the directors; Christy did direct investing, my public guys were both hedge fund managers, and I was a fund manager. We have two associates that came from fund of funds and they have that perspective. We have two associates in the publics that are from Blackrock and they really are quantitative experts with a different perspective. Everybody comes at a discussion from a completely different point of view. That's really important to me because everybody gets to say "I think that sounds crazy" on different topics.
We've also done a lot in order to get that kind of diversity of thought and education. So, yes, we have hired from your classic picks such as the Ivy [League] and then we have graduates from smaller regional schools. I don't really care where they went to school as long as they are just really intellectually curious, hard workers. And since we only hire people with ten years of experience or more, I have a really good track record that I can do due diligence on them. Having a diverse team really does help when you're speaking to GPs to encourage them to have diversity. My team has always been half women, half men so from that aspect we definitely get diverse points of view. We've got generational differences as well, which I think is huge. We've got the people who have 26-year-old sons and daughters, and people who haven't started having kids.
Trusted Insight: In your 3 decades of investment experience, how much change or progress have you seen with diversity and inclusion? What do you think could be done better?
Ana Marshall: The entry classes at investment firms are mostly 50 percent women. The entry classes have a lot of women, but as you get more senior, the demand on time grows exponentially and women decide to opt out. I've watched men choose to get off that train too. It’s harder and harder to make it as a woman, especially in public markets. In private equity, you see more women in the allocator side but not the investment firm side. In private equity, you can more or less set your pace and you can look at a calendar and know who is going to come to fundraise. Yes, it's a huge project, then you move onto the next thing.
"All of us have responsibilities to the overall investment community embedded into our goals and for me that includes helping other newly-minted CIOs and speaking at conferences."
In public markets, the markets trading 24/7. Saturday is the only day that I rest because there are no Asian markets open. I just catch up on reading on Saturdays, but it’s such a dynamic market and it consumes so much of your time. Even when you are not connected to a device, you're thinking about it; it is an exhausting thing. The women investors I know that have made it to senior roles have very supportive spouses who are willing to take on the role of primary parent. This is why we find many fewer women in public markets.
Trusted Insight: How is the Hewlett Foundation tackling these equality initiatives?
Ana Marshall: We're doing a couple of things. We intentionally identify and recruit people with different investment backgrounds. Then it's also how we spend our time. All of us have responsibilities to the overall investment community embedded into our goals and for me that includes helping other newly-minted CIOs and speaking at conferences. For my directors, it means speaking at conferences and speaking out among peer groups. We've decided to really go out and we have so many invitations, why don't we make this directed toward building a more diverse pipeline?
Our director of private equity, Christy, is doing a lot more with women in tech and how that should evolve. Our director of public equity is doing a lot more with ESG, both at the firms and at the underlying companies that are in the portfolio. Each one of them follows something they are passionate about but in a more intentional way.
Trusted Insight: How does the Hewlett Foundation balance for-profit goals and social impact when selecting managers?
Ana Marshall: At the end of the day, we hire managers that we believe can generate superior and consistent performance. When we do our due diligence, we spend a great deal of time on the firm. On philosophy, the strategy of the firm, the bench strength, so beyond the GPs and the PMs. Who's underneath that? Are there enough people challenging of the main decision makers? All of that goes into our decision process. We definitely spend an enormous amount of time on how they think about hiring, how they think about promoting, how they think about the next layer and transitions, all of that.
We don't do the "Here's a questionnaire, check the box, how many women do you have,” because the important thing is how they are thinking about the next generation. How are they thinking about making sure that every decision has the inclusion of different voices? That's what matters to us. By focusing too much on the checking the box, you miss whether it actually is becoming part of the process and that's what we like to see.
View the full list of 2019 Top 30 Foundations Investing In Diversity.