Finance and Philosophy: Vicki Fuller '79

Heller College of Business Alumni Profile

by GRACE HEIMERL

By the time Vicki Fuller (BSBA, ’79) left her position as Chief Investment Officer of the New York State Common Retirement Fund in early 2018, she was successful in growing it to $207.4 billion in assets — a 38% increase. The 2019 Executive-In-Residence for the Heller College of Business credits her undergraduate studies at Roosevelt for laying the foundation for a successful career.

Fuller describes her childhood as difficult and yet seeks to view her experiences through a philosophical lens. “I still remember my mom’s face when I told her I was going to major in philosophy,” said Fuller. “She replied, ‘Well, how are you going to eat that?’” Eventually, the two reached an agreement: Fuller would major in accounting with a minor in philosophy.

“I believe now that we both were right,” said Fuller. “Accounting opened the doors to the world of finance, asset management and asset allocation, but philosophy gave me the tools to ask the question why — to look at the complete picture and think from the end. That, I believe, was my edge.” Fuller maintains this edge was granted by Roosevelt’s academic environment and the diversity of her classmates. This exposure to different cultures, people and ideas influenced Fuller’s understanding of the world and how her work impacted it. 

Following Roosevelt, Fuller completed a Master of Business Administration at the University of Chicago, which led to her recruitment at Morgan Stanley immediately after. During her tenure at Morgan Stanley, Fuller realized her interests included investing capital. When she went to work for Standard and Poor’s (S&P) next, she joined as a rating officer to gain professional analytical experience. Fuller was next recruited to AllianceBernstein, where she managed high-yield emerging markets and global high-yield portfolios that totaled roughly $10 billion. These experiences helped Fuller gain an international reputation for her strategic investment approach, and she was particularly lauded for managing funds with superior performance.

During Vicki Fuller's visit to Roosevelt University, Heller College of Business Dean Asghar Sabbaghi presented her with an award recognizing her storied career and contributions.

During Vicki Fuller’s visit to Roosevelt University, Heller College of Business Dean Asghar Sabbaghi presented her with an award recognizing her storied career and contributions.

During Vicki Fuller’s visit to Roosevelt University, Heller College of Business Dean Asghar Sabbaghi presented her with an award recognizing her storied career and contributions.

“Accounting opened the doors to the world of finance, asset management and asset allocation, but philosophy gave me the tools to ask the question why — to look at the complete picture, and think from the end. That, I believe, was my edge.”

— Vicki Fuller
2019 Executive-in-Residence
BSBA, ’79

As a result of this success, Fuller joined the New York State Common Retirement Fund in August 2012. She maintained its status as the third-largest public pension plan in the United States during her six-year tenure. Additionally, Fuller incorporated environmental, social and governance factors into the Fund’s investment process, which led to her recognition as an industry leader. Under her leadership, the Fund also greatly expanded its minority- and women-owned business investment programs.

When she retired from the New York State Common Retirement Fund in 2018, she joined the board of directors for The Williams Companies Inc. A few months later, she joined the board of Fidelity Equity and High-Income Funds. “I wanted to be on boards that were committed to diversity, inclusion and continually improving the processes of their organizations to be sustainable generators of return,” recalled Fuller.

Today, Fuller is the Heller College of Business 2019 Executive-in-Residence. She is writing a book, accepting select speaking engagements and considering teaching. When asked for advice, she encourages all students at Roosevelt to consider the whole picture and to develop themselves as enlightened people, not just professionals, as they build their careers.

Vicki Fuller’s Six Principles for Success in Business and in Life:

  • Treat people as valued assets.
  • Embracing diversity yields superior results.
  • Employ a holistic approach to [investing] whatever you do.
  • Accept the reality that you will be wrong. Plan for it.
  • Leverage obstacles to propel yourself forward; failure is a great fertilizer.
  • Say yes to the stretch opportunities early. Aim beyond your grasp.
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