HESTA chair Angela Emslie has been a trustee of the industry super fund for 24 years; her drive to push its responsible investment culture further keeps her inspired and motivated.

The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees has honoured Emslie as its Trustee of the Year 2018. The honour was announced at AIST’s annual Conference of Major Superannuation Funds, held in Brisbane March 14-16.

AIST chief executive Eva Scheerlinck said Emslie was a deserving winner, who had made a huge contribution to the super industry, including taking on demanding voluntary roles.

“Angela has been a passionate advocate for fund members and the profit-to-member sector,” Scheerlinck said. “She is widely respected and has been a wonderful mentor to many in the industry, including myself, former AIST CEOs and AIST staff.”

Emslie was AIST president during 2014-15. She has been the independent chair of HESTA since 2010, having first been appointed to the board in 1994. HESTA is a $43 billion Melbourne-based super fund aligned to the health services industry.

In accepting the award, Emslie said it was a privilege to serve the members of HESTA and work as a trustee in the profit-to-member sector, “where – worldwide – the commitment to members is palpable”.

Speaking to Investment Magazine, Emslie said her proudest achievement in more than two decades at HESTA was contributing to a “special board culture” that sets the tone for the whole organisation.

“Whilst we work in the finance sector, we are also imbued with the values of the health and community services sector,” Emslie said. “Our representative board drives not only a strong culture of dedication to members’ best interests but also reflects our members’ social conscience, which means that whilst we are investing to maximise returns, we are also thinking about the environment and society that our members live in and retire into.”

Asked what was still on her to-do list, Emslie spoke of furthering the fund’s commitment to responsible investment practices.

“Whilst HESTA is already ranked amongst the top 10 asset owners globally, in terms of responsible investment, there is still much to be done on the climate agenda and it is early days in terms of integrating our work with the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” she said.

More broadly, a passion for advancing responsible investment practices across the industry globally drives her involvement with the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).

“I would love to tick off on the ambition that all investment is responsible, so we can get rid of the term ‘responsible investment’ and just have investment,” Emslie said. “This is an agenda for asset owners and managers to work on collectively across the globe and I hope it is not another 20 years away!”

Emslie is an experienced director who serves on the boards of a number of other organisations, namely Frontier Advisors, Lime Management Group, Suicide Prevention Australia, and the UN-founded PRI. She has previously served on the boards of three other industry super funds: CareSuper, Vision Super, and VicSuper.

READ MORE: All the coverage from CMSF 2018.