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Leandros Kalisperas, 34
Credit, Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS)
Leandros Kalisperas is a feminist. This may seem a strange claim for a 34-year-old male working in the finance industry, but it is this sense of equality and respect for others that led him to manage credit at one of the largest pension funds in the United Kingdom. After university, Kalisperas went straight onto a large European bank's convertibles desk. It was there that the treatment of women by some of his colleagues irked him so much that he moved out and studied at Insead for an MBA.
"I didn't want to be a banker, but I wanted to make use of the capital structure so I moved to the buy-side," he says. His next stop was Eiger Capital, a hedge fund that blew up in 2008. In the eye of the financial storm, he set up a credit consulting firm where he met the man who would become his boss and mentor. "I met Roger Gray [CIO at USS] and I was struck. Having been a hard-nosed banker I didn't know what to think. He was extremely technical, thoughtful, and switched on." His eyes were opened, they got on, and when USS wanted to build out its credit capabilities, Kalisperas was called in. "A pension fund has a really worthwhile asset/liability structure, and as the fund is for those in education I feel an emotional impact as I am very grateful for my education," says the alumnus of two of the United Kingdom's top institutions—which, by the way, educate girls as well as boys.
The Transplants: They didn't start in this industry, but here's hoping that they stay. While some pension and endowment investors began as fresh-faced college graduates, others took alternative routes—be they via philosophy degrees, hedge funds, or even (gasp!) journalism. There's an argument to be made, of course, that a richness of experience helps one see more holistically. In today's increasingly complex investment landscape, this rings true—and these five represent the outcome of this argument.