Meet our investment specialists

Our Investment Leadership Team comprises specialists in strategy, portfolio management, equities, infrastructure, fixed interest and property.

Russell Clarke

Chief Investment Officer

Russell joined VFMC in May 2017 as Chief Investment Officer (CIO) where he is responsible for overseeing the management of more than $72bn on behalf of a number of Victorian public authorities.

Russell joined VFMC from Mercer where he was the Global CIO (Mainstream Assets) since 2011 and CIO (Pacific) since 2003. This role saw him overseeing all discretionary equity, listed property, fixed income and multi-asset portfolios worldwide and was specifically responsible on a day-to-day basis for all portfolios based in the Pacific region. Russell also chaired the Mainstream Assets Global Investment Committee and Global Strategic Research Committees. Prior to this, he spent six years in Mercer Australia as an investment consultant and head of Investment Research.

Russell also gained eight years of investment and financial services experience working as manager of the investment research function for one of Australia’s largest superannuation funds, UniSuper, and as head of Investment Performance Analytics for a major fund manager.

Russell holds a bachelor of economics from Macquarie University. He is a fellow of the Institute of Actuaries of Australia and a senior associate of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia, and has lectured and tutored in investment subjects for both organisations.

Mark Aarons

Head of Investment Risk and Absolute Returns

Mark joined VFMC in 2018 and is currently Head of Investment Risk and Absolute Returns.  Mark is responsible for both Investment Risk (which covers risk analysis, portfolio construction and defensive overlays) and Absolute Returns (which covers Hedge Funds, Private Credit and Emerging Market Debt).

Mark has 18 years’ experience across financial markets in both banking and funds management.  Prior to working at VFMC, Mark was global Head of FICC Structuring at the National Australia Bank from 2010 to 2017, where he built a leading institutional derivatives structuring and sales business in Australia and the UK.  Mark also spent four years in London with NAB, working in both market risk and in front office on a rates trading desk.

Mark holds Bachelor degrees in Law and Science (both with Honours) from Monash University and a PhD in Mathematics jointly from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics and the Free University of Berlin, Germany.  Mark is also the co-author of a book on securitisation swaps which was published by Wiley Finance in 2019 and has published several finance papers.

Stephen Baker

Head of Infrastructure

Stephen joined VFMC near the end of 2006 and was appointed Head of Infrastructure in September of 2023.  Prior to this appointment, Stephen was a member of the VFMC Infrastructure Team from 2011 and before this was a member of the VFMC Private Markets and Client Services Teams.

Prior to joining VFMC, Stephen worked in the Funds Management industry in London in the position of Client Service Executive at Western Asset Management and Account Manager at Citigroup Asset Management.

Stephen has a Bachelor of Engineering (Mining) and has also completed his Investment Management Certificate in the UK, Graduate Diploma of Finance and Investment from the SIA and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Gary Gabriel

Head of Portfolio Management Group

Gary joined VFMC in October 2020 as Head of the Portfolio Management Group within VFMC’s Investment Team, responsible for determining portfolio strategy and asset allocation, measuring and calibrating investment risk and implementing VFMC client portfolios.

Gary has more than 25 years’ experience in institutional investment, spanning investment strategy formulation, portfolio construction and risk management, and investment management across global listed and unlisted asset classes.  Prior roles include Chief Investment Officer at State Super NSW, General Manager of Portfolio Strategy and Risk at HESTA, Managing Director (Asia Pacific) for Wilshire Associates, Head of Private Markets at the Future Fund, Manager, Investment Strategy and Head of Private Markets at UniSuper.

Gary holds a Bachelor of Economic Science from the University of Witwatersrand and a Certificate in Actuarial Techniques from the Institute of Actuaries.  He is also a CFA Charterholder and is a Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Pete King

Head of Property

Pete joined VFMC in 2008 and has over 25 years experience in asset management, consulting and funds management.

His role as Head of Property involves the responsibility for and management of property investments in a portfolio of core unlisted property funds and club style investments in Australia. In this role, Pete sits on advisory boards and investment committees relating to five funds.

Prior to joining VFMC, Pete held roles at Investa Property Group and Pinnacle Property Group.  He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Management from Melbourne Business School, Bachelor of Business from RMIT University and a Graduate Diploma in Finance and Investment.

Shali Lingaretnam

Head of Investment Stewardship

Shali joined VFMC in May 2020, initially as Senior Portfolio Manager in the Equities team. She was appointed as VFMC’s ongoing Head of Investment Stewardship in February 2022, having acted in the role since August 2021. As Head of Investment Stewardship, Shali is responsible for leading VFMC’s Investment Stewardship and ESG activities.

Shali was previously the Head of Investments at CCI Asset Management managing their $2Bn investment portfolio and has more than 20 years market experience having previously worked in investment roles at Macquarie Bank, Aviva, Lonsec and IOOF Investment Management.

Shali holds a Masters of Applied Finance from Macquarie University and Bachelor of Business from RMIT University.

Leanne Taylor

Head of Portfolio Strategy and Asset Allocation

Leanne joined VFMC in March 2022 as Head of Portfolio Strategy and Asset Allocation.

Leanne has over 20 years’ experience in macroeconomic analysis and research, investment strategy and asset allocation. She was previously Head of Asset Allocation and Portfolio Construction at Cbus Super responsible for the formulation of investment strategy at the asset allocation level, as well as the macroeconomic framework informing total portfolio decisions. She has also held senior roles with Allard Partners Limited, IAG, Merrill Lynch and Westpac. Leanne commenced her career at the Reserve Bank of Australia.

Leanne holds a Master of Economics from The Australian National University, a Bachelor of Economics with Honours from University of Tasmania, and a Graduate Diploma of Applied Finance and Investments.

Nick Tribe

Head of Fixed Interest

Nick joined VFMC in October 2009 and has over 25 years experience in the management of fixed income, inflation linked bond and cash portfolios. He joined as a Senior Portfolio Manager to establish an active fixed income capability across the internally managed fixed income portfolios.

Nick is currently the Head of Fixed Interest and leads VFMC’s Rates and Internal Credit team.

Prior to VFMC he was Deputy Head of Fixed Income at Aviva Investors which was formerly known as Portfolio Partners and prior to that Norwich Investment Management Ltd.

Nick holds a Bachelor of Business (Economics and Finance) from RMIT.

Stuart Birkett

Head of Equities

Stuart Birkett joined VFMC in August 2022 as Head of Equities.

Stuart joined VFMC from industry superannuation fund, HESTA, where he was responsible for managing the fund’s International Equity and Active currency programs. He also previously managed HESTA’s Australian Equity and Alternative Credit programs. Prior to this, Stuart spent over 7 years at Mercer as a Senior Portfolio Manager responsible for the equities programs and over 12 years in senior portfolio management and analyst roles at QIC.

Stuart has a Bachelor of Business (Banking and Finance and Accounting), and a Master of Applied Finance.

Talieh Williams

Executive Manager

Talieh re-joined VFMC as Executive Manager (Acting) in January 2023.

Reporting directly to the CIO and sitting on the Investment Leadership Team, Talieh is responsible for the central coordination of all investment related functions of the fund (spanning investment strategy, asset allocation and portfolio performance) as well as a range of broader organisation-wide strategic initiatives.

Talieh has worked in investment management for over 15 years and was previously VFMC Head of Investment Stewardship until August 2021. Prior to that, Talieh spent over 11 years at UniSuper, where she developed and led its approach to ESG, investment stewardship and sustainable investment.

Talieh holds a Master of Social Science (International Development), Bachelor of Laws (Honours) and Bachelor of Planning and Design (Urban Design).

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