CalSTRS Triple-Feted at Institutional Investor Awards Event
Investor Intelligence Awards recognized the CalSTRS equities team, Christopher J. Ailman as CIO of the Year, and Josh Diedesch with a Rising Star award

News release Ricardo Duran

WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) received three awards at the inaugural Investor Intelligence Awards event in Los Angeles, sponsored by Institutional Investor Magazine.

The awards, presented last week, were as follows:

  • CalSTRS Global Equity and Private Equity staff received the Equity Team award.
  • CalSTRS Chief Investment Officer Christopher J. Ailman received the CIO of the Year award.
  • Investment Officer Josh Diedesch received the Rising Star award.

The nominees and award recipients were determined by the voting of nearly 800 peers and industry members, such as those representing other retirement systems, foundations, endowments, money managers and sovereign wealth funds.

Global Equity Acting Co-Director David Murphy accepted the Equity Team award and dedicated it to his Acting Co-Director, David Castillo, who passed away in July, the result of a cycling accident.

“David Castillo’s passion for investing and commitment to California’s educators were unparalleled,” Murphy said. “It was his innate talent at investing and his commitment to doing things right which stood out. He is truly missed by all who had the privilege to have known him.”

Global and Private Equity combined constitute nearly 70 percent of the CalSTRS investment portfolio, valued at $183.3 billion as of March 31, 2014. The fund’s healthy 2012-13 fiscal year performance, posting a 13.8 percent return, lay in large part on the performance of the two asset classes. This was made all the more dramatic by the sudden tragic loss of Mr. Castillo, and the short staffing both asset classes endured.

“We had a good year and that was due largely to the tireless work of CalSTRS’ 110 investment staff,” said Mr. Ailman, of receiving the CIO of the Year award. “This award is particularly gratifying because I recognize it comes from peers. Leadership has its function, without a doubt, but without the savvy and steadfastness of this staff, and their attention to detail, good things would not have happened.”  

Mr. Ailman came to CalSTRS in the fall of 2000 with more than 27 years of institutional investment management experience. His investment staff manages assets across seven asset classes.

Investment Officer Josh Diedesch received the Rising Star award from Institutional Investor for his work on the Innovation and Risk unit. The 34-year-old University of California, Davis graduate in mathematics and economics has a knack for deconstructing risk.

“His work helps us understand the subtle key components of risk that underlie the portfolio and how we can approach managing them to best effect,” Mr. Ailman said. “His work in the Innovation and Risk team is definitely the best use for his many talents.”

As the research and development arm of the fund’s investment branch, the Innovation and Risk unit adapts cutting-edge quantitative models, tools and strategies to generate investment approaches that enhance returns or reduce risk. The team then implements selected risk exposures in small “incubation” strategies for two to three years to determine how they will behave in larger scale as part of the investment portfolio.

“Every day here is a good day,” Mr. Diedesch said. “There’s nothing else I’d rather be doing.”

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, with a portfolio valued at $183.3 billion as of March 31, 2014, is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world. CalSTRS administers a hybrid retirement system, consisting of traditional defined benefit, cash balance and voluntary defined contribution plans. CalSTRS also provides disability and survivor benefits. CalSTRS serves California’s 868,000 public school educators and their families from the state’s 1,600 school districts, county offices of education and community college districts.