HESTA executive, investment execution, Rob Fowler, will leave the organisation in July. The industry fund will create a new role to lead the fund’s investment execution going forward.

HESTA started its search process this week and said it aims to have a new appointee in place before the end of the financial year.

The new head of investment execution will report to CIO Sonya Sawtell-Rickson and will be a member of the senior leadership team at the $46 billion industry fund for health and community workers.

The newly created role will oversee middle- and back-office functions of the investment team and facilitate closer partnerships between the execution and investment management arms of the fund’s internal team.

“A key focus of the role is on designing and implementing investment operating models, particularly as we look closely at our internal asset management capability,” Sawtell-Rickson said in a statement. “We are looking at significant systems implementations in the coming years to support the development of our investment approach and supporting innovation with world-class execution is vital.”

In a release, HESTA chief executive Debby Blakey spoke of the “enormous contribution” Fowler had made to the fund and its members.

“Rob was the second HESTA employee hired in our investments team and over many years he has made an amazing difference to the financial future of our members through delivering strong, long-term investment performance,” Blakey said.

During his 15 years at the super fund, Fowler was executive manager of investments and governance between 2004 and 2013, before becoming CIO until April 2017.

In the role of CIO, he spearheaded the establishment of HESTA as a global leader in responsible investment and pushed for the integration of ESG into the fund’s investment mandates. This work included introducing total-portfolio screens for tobacco and thermal coal.

Fowler was on the management committee of the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC) for more than a decade and now chairs ESG Research Australia.

The long-serving HESTA executive sat on several boards across the superannuation sector, including IFM Investors’ investment advisory board.

During his career, Fowler has also worked at BT Funds Management, Macquarie Bank and Suncorp.

“After more than 30 years in the investment industry, I am looking forward to stepping back from a full-time role and exploring different types of opportunities,” he said in a statement.

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