CalSTRS Taps Egon Zehnder to Find CEO

March 8, 2021 – Egon Zehnder, the fourth largest search firm globally as ranked by Hunt Scanlon Media, has been enlisted by the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) to lead its search for a new CEO to replace Jack Ehnes, who is retiring in June. The selection was made following a competitive search process for an executive recruitment firm launched in August. The incoming chief executive will oversee annual contribution inflows of over $14.5 billion and annual expense outflows for benefit payments of approximately $16 billion. He or she will manage an annual operating budget of about $307 million and provide leadership and direction to nearly 1,240 CalSTRS staff members.

Egon Zehnder says that this CEO needs to be an outstanding leader of people, able to bring to life a vision that will ignite the organization and energize the operating platforms, someone who can expand the boundaries of the business model, maximize financial performance and manage through market cycles. The CEO is expected to bring fresh, innovative perspectives to CalSTRS. The individual will have overall responsibility for team development and collaboration, building trust between teams as necessary.


Egon Zehnder is looking for a seasoned and respected professional to do the following:

  • Building and executing strategy: provide vision, direction, inspiration and motivation to CalSTRS staff; oversee and implement the organization’s multi-year strategic and business plan; ensure that the organization is adhering to its mission, vision, values and culture of ethics.
  • Delivering operational excellence: provide oversight of all program areas and ensure the efficient and effective functioning of the system.
  • Forging a strong relationship with the board: maintain open and constructive relations with the board and work to build consensus whenever possible; provide guidance to the board regarding legislative proposals and board policies to ensure that the board’s fiduciary responsibilities are adequately addressed.
  • Providing organizational leadership: provide a global reach and influence organizations and policy makers; exhibit leadership among public retirement systems in California and nationwide; inspire confidence and establish credibility with board, staff, legislators, constituency groups and stakeholders.

Candidates must be able to demonstrate experience leading organizations of similar scale and complexity. They should have experience executing multi-year, large-scale plans and projects as well as exposure to and involvement in relationships with boards and external stakeholders. Ideally, they should have experience driving environmental, social and governance agendas across an organization

Largest Educator-Only Pension Fund

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System was established by law in 1913 to provide retirement benefits to California’s public school educators from pre-kindergarten through community college. Today, CalSTRS is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world and the second largest pension fund in the U.S. The organization is located in West Sacramento, CA.

Egon Zehnder’s public and social sector practice works in partnership with its clients to advise governmental, NGO, non-profit, civic and academic institutions on finding top leadership. Each client and mandate is bespoke, with its engagements covering executive search, leadership assessment and development, team effectiveness, succession planning as well as organizational change management consulting.

Related: Societe Generale Turns to Egon Zehnder to Find Next CEO

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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