Harvard Management Co.'s new CEO had the track record to set himself apart, according to an executive with the search firm tasked with finding candidates for the top spot.
Nirmal P. “Narv” Narvekar was named president and CEO on Sept. 29 of Boston-based HMC, which manages Harvard University's $35.7 billion endowment. Effective Dec. 5, he will replace interim CEO Robert Ettl, who took on the role after Stephen Blyth resigned in July for personal reasons. Mr. Ettl will resume his role as chief operating officer.
Harvard's new leader hails from Columbia University Investment Management Co., where as president and CEO since 2002, he oversaw investment strategy for Columbia's $9 billion endowment.
Executive search firm David Barrett Partners conducted the search.
“There was a high level of interest. The search committee had very good options,” said David Barrett, managing partner, in a phone interview. “But ultimately, Narv's track record both as an investor and as a team leader clearly distinguished him.”
Effective Oct. 3, Mr. Narvekar will be replaced by Peter Holland, now the Columbia endowment's chief investment officer, confirmed Columbia spokesman David Stone.
Columbia University's endowment returned 7.6% on investments for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2015. Its annualized five-year and 10-year returns as of June 30, 2015, net of fees, were 12.3% and 10.1%, respectively. The New York-based university has not yet released its fiscal year 2016 figures.
Information on benchmarks was not available.
By comparison, Harvard University's endowment has experienced both several leadership challenges and lackluster returns in recent years. Including interim leaders, Mr. Narvekar will become HMC's seventh CEO since former President Jack Meyer left in 2005.
Harvard University's endowment returned -2% on investments for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2016, below the 1% return of Harvard's benchmark policy portfolio.
For the fiscal year ended June 30, 2016, the endowment earned an average annualized return, net of fees, of 5.9% over the past five years, vs. 5.4% for its benchmark; 5.7% for 10 years, compared with 4.8% for its benchmark; and 10.4% over the past 20 years, vs. 7.7% for the benchmark.
Harvard's endowment ranked 12th out of 26 colleges and universities studied by Pensions & Investments last year in terms of annual returns, returning 5.8% for the year ended June 30, 2015, although that is below the average of 6.2%. Meanwhile, its 10-year annualized return as of June 30, 2015, was 7.6%, ranking 14th out of 23 colleges and universities and below the average of 8%.