Fiona Reynolds is coming home for good. A visit back to Australia last summer, extended because of covid-19, was not enough.
The former chief executive of AIST, who stepped up big time to take the top job at UN PRI in London in 2013, announced last week (June 7) her intention to retire once a replacement is found. This may be by Christmas, but could be in the new year.
Befitting the collaborative style of the organisation she will run until then, Martin Skancke, the chair, is already forming a sub-committee to assist with the selection process.
In 2013, the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investing’, the only global organisation of its type, had a staff of 37 and signatories totalling about 1,000. Now, it has about 170 staff and nearly 4,000 signatories. Australian and New Zealand funds and managers are over-represented for our size in the Asia region, with 173 signatories. Japan is next with 88, followed by Hong Kong with 56.
Reynolds’ career has been an inspiration to many in the industry, particularly women. She did not have the sort of background you’d normally see among CEOs of big and influential organisations.
In a personal profile published in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ and ‘The Age’ in December 2012, Reynolds, now 53, recounted how she did not get to go to university until she was in her 30s. She was a teenage bride, had her first child at 17 and two more by 21. She then got her first full-time job, which gave her a taste for professional development education – as a junior administrator at the Business Law Education Centre.
Her biggest break, though, she told journalist Lucinda Schmidt, was joining the nascent superannuation industry working for the late Mavis Robertson running CMSF in 1994.
“I always thought super was a good thing,” she told Schmidt. “In my first job, compulsory super came in and management was given more super in a different fund. I thought: ‘If they’re getting more, it must be a good thing’. “