NextGen: Portfolio Strategy Academy 2024
[i3] NextGen: Portfolio Strategy Academy | Investment Innovation Institute

NextGen: Portfolio Strategy Academy 2024

The metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the majestic butterfly presents a powerful imagery of the transformation of emerging talent into potential future leaders, poised for unprecedented success.

The inaugural [i3] NextGen: Portfolio Strategy Academy will cater to mid-level portfolio managers and senior analysts, to

  • Empower and train the next generation of leaders in the superannuation and institutional investment industry
  • Provide a unique peer-to-peer space for these potential leaders to interact, network and learn

Growth Pains

As superannuation and public funds grow significantly larger, the organisational structure inevitably becomes more complex, with teams/departments becoming more specialised and siloed.

As with any large organisation, culture and talent management (recruitment, training, retention) becomes increasingly important.

Therein lies the challenge for the Chief Investment Officer and the leadership team: How can they nurture and empower emerging talent, often operating in the confines of specialist silos, into generalist future leaders?

Much like nurturing a caterpillar through its stages of transformation, investing in emerging leaders requires strategic foresight and a tailored investment approach.

Synthesising Knowledge

The caterpillar’s voracious appetite resonates with the idea of a keen hunger for knowledge and conscientious research. While commendable, there are downside risks too.

The beloved children’s book “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle describes a caterpillar who suffered from a stomach ache after eating everything in sight upon emerging from its egg. Then it felt better after eating a leaf.

While simplistic and naïve, it speaks of the need for discernment and discipline: Be careful of what you consume! Interestingly, the negative experience of overeating did spur it to embrace change.

When tasked with research projects, how do portfolio managers or senior analysts balance the need for:

  • Curiosity and lateral thinking, but with a sense of scepticism?
  • Conviction, but with humility?
  • Concise analysis, sufficient but not overloading details?
  • Clear communication, facilitating efficient decision-making?

Adaptability & Employability

Unfortunately, the caterpillar is an attractive source of rich protein for many predators. Hence it needs to build its internal defence mechanism through appearance eg growing bristles or developing types of chemical defences.

Young graduates embark on their careers full of ambition and enthusiasm, backed by technical competence gained through formal education.

However, the employment market, often marked by structural shifts, government policies or industry disruption, can be quite harsh with abrupt changes.

How can such executives build an internal nous to continuously upskill? In times of involuntary job loss, whether due to redundancy, restructuring or even performance appraisal, do they have the resilience to bounce back?

Collaborative & Social Behaviour

The concept of interconnectedness in nature’s web echoes the significance of collaboration and partnership.

Some caterpillars align themselves with ants in a symbiotic relationship, while others aggregate in social groups and move in clusters for protection and food.

Just as caterpillars play essential roles in ecosystems, emerging leaders need to understand how to engage and collaborate with various stakeholders, including senior management, trustee directors and other industry players.

Developing friendships with like-minded peers is a good start.

The [i3] NextGen Academy

Besides focusing on the technical skills, this program will have a strong emphasis on soft skills, which includes:

  • Negotiation, influencing and communicating
  • Understanding and managing team dynamics
  • Engaging ‘upwards’ ie C-level and the board
  • Career development


The program will be delivered via a combination of presentations, discussions, interactive games and debates.