Read this article and learn about:
- Why COOs must demonstrate efficient operations
- Why COOs must have increasing strategic insight and contribute to the overall business goals
- The importance of strong vendor relationships
- How an IBOR can help you keep pace with business needs
Rosemarie McClean, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
The global investment management industry faces many challenges. In this recurrent CXO Corner relay column, we ask top executives to show us the way ahead, sharing their views and best practices for meeting the challenges.
Journal: Tell us a bit about Ontario Teachers’ and your industry. How have the business and key competitive differentiators transformed in the recent years?
Rosemarie McClean: Ontario Teachers' is Canada's largest single-profession pension plan with $171.4 billion in net assets. With offices in Toronto, London, and Hong Kong, our main purpose is to pay pensions and invest plan assets on behalf of our members, who comprise 316,000 working and retired teachers in the province of Ontario. Since our evolution to an independent organization in 1990, we have built an international reputation for innovation and leadership in investment management and member services.
Our employees pioneered many of the investment practices and service standards that are now common in the pension world. From the early use of derivatives, within our asset management strategy, to creating highly interactive digital services and pension statements for members, we are proud of the accomplishments of our team of people and the services we deliver. As we have continually explored the world for investment opportunities, we have seen the investment landscape become increasingly competitive for deals, transactions, and partnerships.
Journal: You’ve been with Ontario Teachers' for many years, the last two years as Chief Operating Officer (COO). Can you take us through your professional journey as COO?
Rosemarie McClean: I was appointed to the COO role in November 2014. Prior to that, I held the position of Senior Vice President (SVP), Member Services. As SVP of Member Services, the focus was on serving our external clients including the members, employers, and the formal plan sponsors (the provincial teachers' union and the Ontario government). As COO, my focus has shifted from serving external clients to internal clients. My goal was to make an early impact by leveraging my organizational experience and knowledge.
“...a COO has to demonstrate that the operational group is run effectively, efficiently, and are diligent when it comes to cost management. Those factors are now considered a given. In addition, the role requires greater and broader strategic insight. The COO must contribute to the overall success of the business in all areas and helps execute on the strategy.Rosemarie McClean, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
Since I am the first COO ever appointed at Ontario Teachers’, I established some strategic pillars for the division after speaking with employees and stakeholders across the organization. The plan was to use these strategic pillars to ensure all teams are aligned and to guide the activity of our group going forward. The three strategic pillars are Service, Efficiency, and Innovation.
Journal: Setting the right team must be essential to support these strategic pillars?
Rosemarie McClean: It was absolutely key. I knew I had to have a senior leadership team who understood where I wanted to lead the division and could translate that into driving business outcomes. It was also important to get the right people at the next level and at all levels. This was a unique opportunity to put the right people in the right place regardless of previous roles and any pre-conceptions. Now I have a mix of existing and new employees. All of my direct reports were actually new to their roles and they brought fresh ideas and enthusiasm to their work. I could not be more pleased with the outcome.