Meet UPP’s executive team

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Executive Leadership

UPP’s Executive and Senior Leadership teams are together responsible for building the Plan’s foundations and establishing its overall strategic direction with one common goal: to deliver our members retirement peace of mind.

Barbara Zvan

President and Chief Executive Officer

Barbara Zvan is President and Chief Executive Officer of the University Pension Plan Ontario (UPP). She is responsible for realizing UPP’s strategies to deliver valuable, lifelong pension security and service excellence to UPP’s over 37,000 members while establishing UPP as the pension solution of choice for Ontario’s university community. 

Formerly the Chief Risk and Strategy Officer for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Barb is globally recognized as a leading voice on sustainable investing and an ambassador for defined benefit pensions. She was recently named Canada’s CEO of the Year and Corporate Citizen of the Year 2022 by the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine in honour of her contributions and leadership in both areas.

A sought-after responsible investing expert, Barb was appointed to the Government of Canada’s Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance in 2018 and is an inaugural member of the Sustainable Finance Action Council, which launched in 2021. On the global stage, Barb played a significant role in creating the G7 Investor Leadership Network and was named one of 26 Climate Champions by British High Commission in Canada and the Canada Climate Law Initiative ahead of COP 26 in 2021.

She also serves on the boards of various global organizations including the Global Risk Institute, Responsible Investment Association, Climate Engagement Canada, and the advisory board of the Institute of Sustainable Finance at the Smith School of Business.

She holds a master’s degree in Math and Statistics from the University of Waterloo and a Bachelor of Science degree from McMaster University. She is a fellow of the C.D. Howe Institute, a member of the Institute of Corporate Directors, a Fellow of Canadian Institute of Actuaries (FCIA) and a Fellow of Society of Actuaries (FSA).

Aaron Bennett

Chief Investment Officer

Aaron Bennett is UPP’s Chief Investment Officer and leads all aspects of our global investment strategy and operations. He works closely with the Executive Leadership Team and Investment Department leaders to drive and evolve UPP’s innovative, risk-optimized investment platform grounded on the Plan’s mission of retirement security and sustainable investing.

A seasoned and versatile portfolio manager, Aaron brings over 16 years of investment experience at highly respected organizations, with expertise in strategic asset allocation and responsible investing. He has a deep understanding of total fund asset mix strategy and risk management and has managed globally diversified portfolios of public and private assets. He is also a recognized leader in sustainable investing and ESG initiatives. Across his roles at Jarislowsky Fraser Global Investment Management, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and mid-sized Canadian boutique investment banks, Aaron has supported the continuous improvement of systemic and robust investment analysis, policy formulation and strategic implementation across portfolios and asset classes.

Aaron holds a B.Sc Honours (Biology) from Queen’s University, an MBA from the Ivey School of Business Western University and is a CFA Charterholder.

Brian Gill

Chief Technology Officer

Brian Gill is UPP’s Chief Technology Officer, overseeing the teams responsible for UPP’s strategic initiatives, technology infrastructure, data analytics and business intelligence. Working in close collaboration with UPP’s leadership team and Board of Trustees, Brian contributes to strategic and operational direction of UPP, providing input and support on the full spectrum of business issues.

Brian brings extensive executive and Chief Information Officer leadership experience in both private and public sector organizations within the Financial Services, Technology, and Gaming industries. A seasoned leader, Brian is known as a strategic business executive who delivers results through technology enabled transformation applied in a people-oriented manner, increasing efficiency, and improving customer satisfaction.

In his most recent assignment, Brian served as SVP & Chief Technology Officer at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation where he played an integral role in the technology-enabled modernization of land-based gaming, Lottery, and online gaming. 

Brian is a champion for many important and charitable causes but is especially proud of his efforts to improve Equity, Diversity & Inclusion within those organizations he has worked.

Brian holds an Honors Computer Science degree from the University of Waterloo.

Christine Chen

General Counsel

Christine Chen is UPP’s Executive Legal and Policy Advisor and acts as principal legal officer to UPP, working closely with the ELT and Board of Trustees to provide leadership and integrated, strategic, and risk-adjusted direction in all legal matters. She is an active member of the Executive Leadership team and plays a critical role advancing UPP’s business and strategic priorities.

Christine is a lawyer with international and multi-disciplinary experience. She began her legal career in Toronto with Fasken Martineau, then moved to London, where she consulted before becoming in house counsel for an international private equity manager and qualifying as Solicitor (England and Wales) as well as Barrister and Solicitor (Ontario). Christine has experience in a wide range of areas, including taxation, M&A transactions, organizational transformation and governance, stand-up of foreign subsidiaries, fund structuring and capital raising, strategic advisory and executive compensation. She was a Trustee at HOOPP prior to joining UPP.

She is a graduate of the Institute of Corporate Directors and holds her LLB from the University of Toronto, Faculty of Law.

Joanna Lohrenz

Chief Pension Services Officer

Joanna Lohrenz is UPP’s Chief Pension Services Officer (CPSO) and leads UPP’s day-to-day execution and oversight of member and employer services and regulatory compliance related to pension administration. Working closely with our university pension services agents, Joanna and her team are accountable for serving and engaging members, earning their trust and achieving high levels of member satisfaction. As CPSO, Joanna also oversees pension contribution reconciliation and accuracy of pensioner payroll.

Throughout her 20+ year career at Manulife, Joanna has successfully filled many transformational and client service centered executive roles, including VP Sponsor Experience, Group Benefits; VP, Transformation, Customer Experience; VP, Contact Centers, Canadian Division; and AVP Client Services Group Pensions, John Hancock, among others. Her most recent role was VP, Strategy and Transformation, Group Benefits. A self-styled operator who revels in “getting things done”

Joanna holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario.

Karen Rowe

Chief Financial Officer

Karen Rowe is UPP’s Chief Financial Officer, responsible for all operational and financial aspects of the Plan, including investment finance, corporate finance, compliance and taxation planning. As a member of UPP’s Executive Leadership Team, Karen contributes to key decisions related to strategic initiatives, operational processes, and organizational culture.

Karen brings extensive executive and chief financial officer experience in both the public and private sectors, including as Managing Director, Head of Investment Finance, at CPP Investments, and Vice President, Finance, at Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG).

She most recently held the position of Chief Financial Officer at CIBC Mellon, where she led the strategic planning and implementation of numerous business transformation initiatives.

Karen is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario and holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree with First Class Honours from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

She is passionate about volunteering in the education sector, and received an award in recognition of her service as Chair of Ted Rogers School of Accounting and Finance Advisory Council at Toronto Metropolitan University.

Kathy Johnson

Chief Engagement and Strategy Officer 

Kathy is UPP’s Chief Engagement and Strategy Officer, overseeing UPP’s Office of Communications, Engagement, and Strategy. Kathy leads the team responsible for UPP’s strategic planning, outreach and relationship building program(s) with the university sector. Working with the communications team, she supports UPP’s broader communications and branding programs and contributes to the strategic and operational direction of UPP, providing counsel and advice on engagement, relationship building and issues management.

Kathy is an established leader in the Ontario public service sector with a long record of building productive relationships with internal and external stakeholders, staff, elected government representatives, and the media to achieve strategic goals.  Practicing social justice values and a commitment to integrity and equity, Kathy is an effective change and people leader with demonstrated experience crafting clear strategy, executing plans, and creative problem solving. She joined UPP from the University of Toronto Faculty Association (UTFA), where she served as Executive Director, providing elected leadership strategic advice, facilitating strategic planning, managing communications, and strengthening UTFA’s recognition as a leader internally and within the broader sector. Prior to UTFA, Kathy worked at Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE)  where she has a reputation for building and managing strong teams. 

Kathy holds a Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Calgary.

Omo Akintan

Chief People Officer

Omo is UPP’s Chief People Officer, responsible for all aspects of UPP’s people strategy, including performance management; talent development and acquisition; employee engagement; and diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives. She also works alongside UPP’s executive team to define UPP’s organizational culture and values.

Omo brings extensive people experience, including her most recent role as Chief People Officer at the City of Toronto, where she led a large team of human resources, equity, and human rights professionals. While at the City of Toronto, Omo delivered programs and services to strengthen, support, and promote an inclusive, accessible, and discrimination and harassment free environment for employees, service recipients, and residents. A Juris Doctor from the Faculty of Law at the University of Toronto, Omo joined the City of Toronto in September 2004 and spent over a decade working as a labour, employment and human rights lawyer.

Omo’s community efforts include sitting as Co-chair of the University of Toronto Administrative Tribunal, Director of Massey Centre for Pregnant and Parenting Adolescents, a volunteer for the Out of the Cold program and a mentor for the University of Toronto Faculty of Law. She was the City lead on the development of Toronto’s Indigenous Affairs Office in partnership with Toronto’s Indigenous community.

Senior Leadership

Brian Minns

Senior Managing Director, Responsible Investing

Brian Minns is UPP’s Senior Managing Director, Responsible Investing, responsible for integrating responsible investing (RI) into UPP’s total portfolio approach and corporate practices. He oversees UPP’s RI strategy, ensuring our RI commitments are achieved through our investment processes and stewardship practices, and that we are communicating openly and transparently about our RI practices as they evolve.

Brian came to UPP after nearly a decade at Addenda Capital, culminating in his most recent position as Vice-President, Sustainable Investing. Prior to Addenda, he held positions in responsible investing with CPP Investments and Mercer. A veteran in responsible investing, Brian is Co-founder and past Co-chair of the Canadian Responsible Investing Working Group, a member of the CFA Institute’s ESG Technical Committee, a member of the Responsible Investing Association’s Policy Stewardship Group, and a member of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance’s Public Policy Committee.

He is a Chartered Financial Analyst and holds a Master’s in Environmental Studies from York University, the Sustainable Investment Professional certification from Concordia University, and a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Queen’s University.

Peter Martin Larsen

Senior Managing Director, Private Markets

Peter is UPP’s Senior Managing Director, Head of Private Markets, responsible for UPP’s Private Markets portfolio comprising the infrastructure, real estate, private equity, and private debt asset classes. In his role, Peter leads the identification and implementation of strategic priorities, execution and value creation opportunities and oversees the department’s valuation, portfolio construction, analytics, monitoring, and reporting efforts. Peter is a senior investment professional specializing in unlisted investments, with deep experience in M&A, investment strategy and asset management. His breadth as an investor at one of Europe’s largest institutional investors and in global advisory and investment banking has given him exposure to wide-ranging investments, projects, and transactions and the opportunity to amass an extensive global leadership network.

Peter has served on the Boards of several large infrastructure companies and on the Investment and Investor Advisory Committees of a range of infrastructure, real estate, private equity, and private debt funds. He currently sits on the Investment Committee of the Danish SDG Investment Fund, a DKK 5bn public-private partnership contributing to the realization of the 17 UN SDGs through investments in developing countries. Peter has Master’s Degrees in Finance and Economics from the London School of Economics and the University of Copenhagen.

Andrew Naples

Managing Director, University Sector and Stakeholder Engagement

Andrew is UPP’s Managing Director, University Sector and Stakeholder Engagement, leading outreach and relations with the university sector, government, and other external stakeholders. He is responsible for establishing and steering strategies to develop and manage UPP’s external relationships, while driving sector growth, supporting brand development and reputation, and providing counsel to UPP’s executive leadership team.

Andrew brings nearly two decades of experience in the Ontario university sector. Most recently he served as Chief of Staff and Corporate Secretary at the Council of Ontario Universities (COU), the membership association representing Ontario’s 21 universities. In this role, he partnered with the CEO to lead member relations and deliver on organizational development strategies, including building a significant public affairs capacity. A key member of the senior executive team, Andrew played an integral part in the realignment of the organization to effectively deliver on a focused agenda of public affairs, policy analysis, member service, and value-added shared services.

Prior to his role at COU, Andrew worked for 10 years at Queen’s University in a variety of positions related to government relations, public affairs, advancement, and community and stakeholder relations.

Andrew holds a master’s degree in public administration and bachelor’s degree in political studies, both from Queen’s University.

Christophe L'Ahelec

Managing Director, Public Markets

Christophe L’Ahelec is an investment professional with more than twenty years of global experience in France, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Canada.

As Managing Director, Public Markets, Christophe is responsible for UPP’s global investment strategy with a particular focus on Public Market activities. 

Prior to UPP, Christophe was a Senior Principal in the Capital Markets department at Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) Board where he was accountable for the top-down management of the external managers portfolio and was part of the investment committee allocating to hedge fund, private credit and long only equity managers. During his 11 year tenure at OTPP, he originated, conducted due-diligence and on-boarded systematic alpha managers in the equity and futures space, along with leading the group’s work in the alternative risk premia space.

Before coming to Canada, Christophe was a quantitative analyst and assistant portfolio manager at Mignon Genève SA/Alpstar Asset Management in Switzerland, where he took part in the creation and portfolio management of a European systematic market neutral fund.

Christophe is a graduate engineer in Finance and Applied Mathematics from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Informatique et de Mathématiques Appliquées de Grenoble, France and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation. Christophe has been invited to speak globally on advanced portfolio and risk management topics and has published papers on topics regarding portfolio construction and managed futures.

Faisal Siddiqi

Managing Director, Actuarial

Faisal Siddiqi is UPP’s Managing Director, Actuarial and leads all internal and external actuarial processes at UPP, including management of UPP’s annual actuarial valuations and tracking of the plan’s funded status. Faisal is also a strategic member of our asset-liability management team and he works closely with the organization’s portfolio construction, investment strategy, investment operations, and pension services areas.

Faisal brings over 25 years’ experience and expertise in asset-liability analysis and technical actuarial review, plan valuations, sponsor and government relations and general organizational leadership. During his career he has consulted for LifeWorks, Willis Towers Watson, Buck Consultants, and EY where he was an Associate Partner. Faisal has been a member of Ontario’s Financial Services Tribunal for over four years, hearing cases covering pensions, insurance and mortgages and he has been a chair of many professional actuarial committees and is a frequent presenter at pension industry conferences.

He holds a Bachelor of Mathematics in Actuarial Science and Statistics from the University of Waterloo and is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries.

Giorgio Scocco

Managing Director, Data and Technology

Giorgio Scocco is UPP’s Managing Director, Data & Technology, responsible for technology strategy, governance, vendor oversight, data management and security practices. He is also responsible for the implementation and management of enterprise platforms and services required to evolve the technology architecture . Giorgio partners with all areas of UPP and plays a strategic role in ensuring UPP’s Data & Technology capabilities meet organizational needs on a near and long-term basis.

Giorgio comes to UPP from OMERS, where he was most recently Vice President, Enterprise Architecture. As a key technology partner, he led the cloud strategy and roadmap for OMERS while building cohesive architecture practices across the organization. Previously, Giorgio held the position of Vice President, Pension Technology. In that role, he was responsible for leading a diverse technology delivery team from project initiation through to operational support. Over his 20+ year career in technology, Giorgio has worked for start-up organizations and large financial institutions.

He holds a Bachelor of Mathematics in Computer Science and Information Systems from the University of Waterloo.

Jeff Dejean

Managing Director, Total Fund and Treasury 

Jeff Dejean is UPP’s Managing Director, Total Fund and Treasury, responsible for all portfolio aspects related to cash management, fixed income, liability-driven investing and leverage. He oversees UPP’s strategies to measure and manage interest rate and liquidity risk as well as UPP’s asset mix rebalancing and capital planning strategies. He is closely involved in UPP’s ALM analysis and review, risk management and performance reporting frameworks.

Jeff is an experienced asset/liability management professional, with expertise in all major areas of treasury and proven experience in balance sheet management and optimization. Jeff’s ALM experience includes traditional banking, as well as in pension and insurance. He’s an innovative leader, able to develop and maintain high performance teams, with a track record of transforming treasury functions. Jeff was most recently Vice-President, ALM at CIBC, where he managed a team of 17 professionals. Prior experience was with RBC as Treasurer of RBC Investor Services Ltd. and with the Province of Ontario.

He holds his Masters Degree in Economics from Queen’s University and a Bachelor’s Degree (honours) in Economics from the University of Western Ontario.

Kelly Conlon

Kelly Conlon

Managing Director, Strategy and Communications

Kelly is UPP’s Managing Director, Strategic Communications & External Relations, responsible for building the organization’s integrated communications strategy and positioning the Plan to engage key audiences and attract talent.

Kelly brings over a decade of communications and business writing experience with large public and private institutions. She specializes in distilling comprehensive information and ideas into compelling messaging and reporting to diverse audiences, from academia and industry to international regulators, policymakers and central banks. Kelly has worked for some of the world’s largest institutional investors, including an eight-year tenure at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP), where she served as the communications conduit between the investment division and its governing bodies, ensuring clarity and alignment on strategic objectives and decisions. She has contributed communications guidance and content support to an array large financial institutions and global bodies, including the Government of Canada’s Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance, the G7 Investor Leadership Network, the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, the Global Risk Institute and the International Centre for Pension Management, among others.

Kelly holds a four-year Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She served as a director on the Board and Finance Committees for Make-A-Wish Atlantic Provinces and is a member of the Centre for Women in Business.

Nancy Schryburt

Managing Director, Pension Services

As Managing Director, Pension Services, Nancy leads a group of cross-functional teams focused on achieving UPP’s goal of providing world-class service to our members and employers. She is responsible for the delivery of all lines of business within Pension Services, including Client Experience, Pension Operations, and Plan Policy. She also provides strategic counsel and guidance on the development, implementation, and maintenance of UPP’s pension administration system.

Prior to joining UPP in 2021, Nancy spent 20 years at OPTrust in various pension plan administration and project management roles. She proudly led the operational implementation for OPTrust Select, a new pension offering which launched in 2018, providing a defined benefit pension to the broader public service, charitable, and non-profit workplaces of Ontario.

Nancy holds Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from McMaster University, a Marketing Management Certificate from Toronto Metropolitan University and has completed both the Certified Employee Benefit Specialist (CEBS) and Pension Plan Administration Certification (PPAC) programs.

Nelson Chau

Managing Director, Portfolio Construction and Investment Risk

As Managing Director, Portfolio Construction and Investment Risk, Nelson works closely with key partners and asset class heads to develop and manage UPP’s risk policies, investment strategy, total fund management, and government and investment-grade fixed income strategies.

Prior to joining UPP, Nelson was Head of Portfolio Construction and Fixed Income at the Alberta Teachers’ Retirement Fund (ARTF). In that role, Nelson developed an economic risk-balanced portfolio using derivatives to better match pension liabilities and built risk premia portfolios improving beta efficiency, diversification, and risk mitigation. Prior to his role at ARTF, Nelson managed the Liquid Alternatives portfolio at Scotia Institutional Asset Management, was Principal, Global Macro Portfolio at OMERS, and held roles at ING Investment Management Canada, Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan and Dupont Capital Management.

Nelson holds a CFA designation, an MBA from Queen’s, and has completed the Investment Decisions and Behavioural Finance Program from the Harvard Kennedy School as well as the Financial Investment Technology program from the University of California, Berkeley.

Paula Heinzl

Managing Director, Investment Finance and Operations

Paula Heinzl is UPP’s Managing Director, Investment Finance and Operations, responsible for the Investment Finance operational capabilities including custody arrangements, day to day portfolio oversight, portfolio performance and analytics and consolidated portfolio reporting. She is also responsible for developing policies, processes and controls to record, measure and monitor the investments under management.

Paula most recently worked at International Fund Services, a division of State Street Alternative Investment Solutions which provides fund accounting and administration to hedge funds and fund of hedge funds. Paula led the launch of this division in Toronto, growing it to over 80 staff with an international client base. She has experience with client management, procedures and controls development and enhancement, leading teams and custody and investment accounting. After starting her career at Ernst & Young, Paula was at State Street and held positions in multiple service teams – mutual funds, offshore funds and pensions.

She holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Finance from Queen’s University and is a Chartered Accountant and Certified Public Accountant.

Reza Arjomandi

Managing Director, Strategic Initiatives Delivery

Reza Arjomandi is UPP’s Managing Director, Strategic Initiatives Delivery and is responsible for leading the enterprise Project Management Office (ePMO) team and the design, planning and execution of UPP’s strategic initiatives portfolio. He and his team are accountable for developing and implementing UPP’s innovative, scalable delivery model.

Reza brings UPP over 25 years experience in project delivery, data and analytics. He was most recently Program Director, Data & Analytics at Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP). During his decade at OTPP, Reza also led the Risk Solution Replacement Program, as well as the Equity OMS replacement project. Prior to OTPP, Reza led programs and projects at eHEALTH Ontario Agency, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Compaq Canada and SHL Systemhouse.

He holds a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Salford, Manchester, England.

Suchorita Sen

Managing Director, Corporate Finance

Suchorita Sen is UPP’s managing Director, Corporate Finance and is responsible for our Corporate Finance function. She oversees financial reporting, delivering financial information to stakeholders, both internally and externally, as well as strategic financial planning and analysis, procurement and expense management. She provides financial advice and guidance to teams across corporate functions.

Suchorita comes to us with many years of experience gained at Deloitte, Sun Life Financial and most recently OMERS. During her time with OMERS, she led the annual operating plan and quarterly forecasting processes, and oversaw the preparation of the annual MD&A. As a member of their Sustainable Investing Committee, she helped OMERS publish its first-ever portfolio-wide carbon foot printing metrics.

She holds a Bachelor of Commerce from McMaster University and is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) of Ontario.

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