Campus & Community

Jane Mendillo to lead Harvard Management Company

7 min read

Jane Mendillo will become the new president and chief executive officer of Harvard Management Company (HMC), effective July 1, 2008, the HMC board of directors announced today (March 27).

Regarded as one of the nation’s premier endowment managers, Mendillo has served since February 2002 as the chief investment officer of Wellesley College. There she has built the college’s first investment office, directed the restructuring of its investment portfolio, and achieved substantial and sustained endowment growth through a period of rapidly changing market conditions.

Previously, Mendillo served as one of Harvard Management Company’s senior investment officers, rising to become HMC’s vice president of external investments and overseeing the investment of a portfolio that grew to $7 billion — roughly a third of HMC’s assets then under management.

“Jane Mendillo has an excellent record as one of the most able and accomplished investment managers in the endowment world, as well as an extensive knowledge of the Harvard endowment and a deep commitment to higher education,” said James F. Rothenberg, treasurer of Harvard University and chair of the HMC board of directors. “Her investment savvy, her intelligence and exacting standards, and her skill as an organizational leader suit her well to this very important role. Having spent more than two decades at Harvard and Wellesley, she has devoted her career to considering how endowments can best advance higher education’s essential purposes, both now and over the long term.

“All of us on the HMC board are pleased to welcome Jane back to Harvard,” Rothenberg said, “and we look forward to working closely with her and her outstanding colleagues in the years to come.”

”I could not be more pleased to return to Harvard,” Mendillo said. “The Management Company’s investment rigor, intellectual integrity, and — most important — superior returns are traditions I look forward to continuing. Moreover, the depth of talent and ability at HMC provide the foundation for continued investment excellence in support of the University. I am proud and honored to be selected by the board and look forward to working with Jim Rothenberg, the other members of the HMC board, and colleagues throughout the organization to build upon the track record of the past decades.”

“Jane Mendillo’s leadership and experience will carry forward the strong, thoughtful, and highly professional management of funds that generations of benefactors have entrusted to Harvard for a paramount purpose — to help the University attract extraordinary people of talent and promise, and to enable them to do their best work,” said Drew Faust, president of Harvard University and a member of the HMC board. “I’m grateful to her for taking on this new role, to Rob Kaplan for his outstanding leadership during this interim period, and to Jim Rothenberg and colleagues on the HMC board for leading the search. More than that, all of us owe our thanks to the alumni and friends whose generosity fuels our efforts, and to the remarkably talented HMC staff for all they do to help our academic enterprise thrive.”

As chief investment officer at Wellesley since 2002, Mendillo has had principal responsibility for the investment policy and management of the college’s endowment and related assets. Under Mendillo’s leadership, Wellesley has created a new investment office to oversee the management of its endowment funds and has substantially restructured the endowment portfolio, from a traditional asset mix to one modeled on an increasingly sophisticated policy portfolio, similar to that employed by HMC. During Mendillo’s five full fiscal years to date at Wellesley, from July 1, 2002, to June 30, 2007, the Wellesley endowment produced average annualized returns of 13.5 percent, net of fees and expenses and the costs of this restructuring. During the same period, the endowment grew from $1 billion to $1.7 billion (reflecting investment gains, new gifts, distributions from endowment, and fees). In each of the five years of Mendillo’s tenure, the Wellesley portfolio outperformed its market-based policy portfolio benchmark, reflecting considerable value-added through active portfolio management. Returns reached 22.7 percent in fiscal year 2007, outstripping Wellesley’s policy portfolio benchmark by more than 500 basis points (five percentage points).

In nearly 15 years at Harvard Management Company, from 1987 until early 2002, Mendillo held a series of senior positions, ultimately as vice president of external management. In that role, to which she was appointed in 1997, she was responsible for directing the investment of a portfolio that grew to $7 billion in assets, including $6 billion in externally managed endowment assets (including investments in private equity, real estate, emerging markets, and natural resources, among other areas) and $1 billion in pension and related accounts. Previously, as vice president for trusts (1992-96), vice president for private equity (1989-91), and a member of the internal equities management team (1987-89), she held key investment responsibilities in the areas of domestic equities, venture capital, and charitable trusts.

In addition to directing Wellesley’s investments, Mendillo currently chairs the board of The Investment Fund for Foundations (TIFF) Advisory Services, which manages endowment assets of approximately $8 billion for a nationwide network of more than 300 not-for-profit organizations. In this role, she is closely involved with TIFF’s senior management in setting its investment and organizational strategy.

While at Wellesley, she has also served on the Yale University Investment Committee, which advises on the investment of Yale’s endowment, the second largest among institutions of higher education. (She will relinquish this role in June 2008.) In addition, Mendillo is a member of the investment committee of Partners HealthCare System, which includes Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as well as the investment committee of the Harvard-Yenching Institute and the board of visitors of Dimock Community Health Center in Roxbury.

Mendillo’s appointment concludes a search launched last fall, when Mohamed El-Erian stepped down as HMC president and CEO. Since then, the HMC board has conducted an intensive nationwide search for a new leader to direct the management of the nation’s largest university endowment, valued at $34.9 billion as of June 30, 2007.

Since November 2007, HMC has been led by Robert S. Kaplan, former vice chairman of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. and a professor of management practice at Harvard Business School. Kaplan will continue to serve as interim CEO until June 30, 2008, and will work with Mendillo to ensure a smooth transition when she arrives in July. He has also agreed to become a member of the HMC board, effective July 1, 2008.

“During this period of extreme market volatility, the staff of Harvard Management Company has performed at an extraordinarily high level,” Kaplan said. “I have been exceptionally impressed with the hard work, dedication, and commitment to excellence of the superb professionals at HMC. I look forward to continuing to lead the organization during this interim period, to working with Jane Mendillo to make the July transition smooth and successful, and to keeping all of us at HMC focused on our important mission of generating outstanding returns for Harvard University.”

Mendillo received her B.A. and M.B.A. degrees from Yale University. Early in her career she was a management consultant with Bain & Company in Boston. She is a chartered financial analyst and a member of the Boston Security Analysts Society, Inc., the Boston Committee on Foreign Relations, and the Boston Economic Club.

She received the 2007 Industry Leadership Award given by 100 Women in Hedge Funds, in recognition of her “talent, ethics, and passion, which help define the hedge fund industry’s standard of excellence.”

Harvard Management Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Harvard University. Founded in 1974, it is charged with managing the University’s endowment, pension assets, working capital, and noncash gifts.