Our Voices

Kim, Gurtz take on the importance of security and tangible ESG goals at RFK Compass Keynote

What do an Uber driver, a chief pension investment officer, and a private equity investor all have in common? A profound appreciation for security, not just for themselves, but for others.

Yup S. Kim and David Gurtz, who headlined Wednesday’s keynote address at the RFK Compass Summer Investors Conference Wednesday afternoon at the Chatham Bars Inn, were connected even before they arrived on site.

Kim, head of investments at CalPERS Private Equity, said he found himself in an Uber traveling to the three-day conference. That car was being driven by a retired Massachusetts public school teacher. When mentioning he’d be on a panel with Gurtz, the deputy chief investment officer at Pension Reserves Investments Board of Massachusetts, Kim said the Uber driver asked him to pass along her thanks to Gurtz for securing her pension.

Kim described his humble roots growing up in Indonesia, being raised by parents committed to nonprofit careers building schools and community centers.

“While my parents never quite preached this notion that real living begins when you live for others,” Kim said, “that really had an impact on my life.”

That was compounded by experiences with food insecurity when he traveled to America to study in high school and college.

Kim said CalPERS has begun to tangibly standardize and measure ESG metrics as it does business, including tracking Greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy, workplace injury, workforce engagement, and company diversity.

Gurtz previously served at PRIM as Director of Risk Management and is largely responsible for building the risk management program.

Under his leadership, the organization in recent months has made headlines for its decision to devote $1 billion over the next two years to its emerging-diverse managers’ program to go out over five different asset programs. The effort is designed to help the $98.5 billion public pension system reach its diversity goals.

Gurtz said Mass PRIM has also recently partnered with MIT to develop an app that will help companies to evaluate ESG Issues.

“You cannot manage what you cannot measure,” Kim said. “We’re now collecting time serious data on this.”

The session came at the conclusion of the RFK Compass Summer Investors Conference on Wednesday, the first in-person conference held by the program since 2019.