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Emerging Managers: A Frank Discussion featuring a Panel of Seasoned Allocators

Event Description


 CFA Society of Dallas/Fort Worth and TWSW invite you to join us for a discussion with three seasoned allocators to the emerging manager space. Learn about programs available, seeding options and what it really takes to go from start-up to success. 

Sharmilla Kassam, Deputy CIO, Employees Retirement Fund
Gregory Dyra, Managing Member, Obair Capital, LLC
Shakil Riaz, Global CIO Alternatives, Arden Asset Management, LLC

Thursday, September 22, 2015
5:00 PM Registration
5:30-7:30 Panel & Reception
Rosewood Crescent Hotel (Main Ballroom)

Speaker Bios:

Sharmila Kassam, Esq., CPA, is the Deputy Chief Investment Officer for the Investments Division at the Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS). She works closely with the Chief Investment Officer and staff managing investments in all asset classes to develop internal best practices, analyze asset allocation, oversee external management, and pursue new initiatives. Sharmila is a liaison between internal and external stakeholders working on policy and agency strategic initiatives, including the $25 billion pension trust and $2 billion Texa$aver 401(k) / 457 Program, the voluntary defined contribution plan for employees of state agencies and some higher education institutions. Prior to her current role, she served as an Assistant General Counsel at ERS for five years during the initial stages of its private equity program, leading legal negotiations with multiple fund sponsors and later working closely with the private real estate and hedge fund teams as they developed their programs. Before joining ERS, Sharmila was an associate at Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich and Rosati, focusing on securities, mergers/acquisitions, and corporate governance. She worked at multiple start-up and technology companies in financial and operational roles prior to entering the legal profession. She began her career as an audit associate at Coopers & Lybrand (now PriceWaterhouseCoopers). Sharmila is a licensed Certified Public Accountant and also licensed to practice law in California and Texas. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting, with honors, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Texas of Austin.

Gregory Dyra is a principal investor, shaped by experiences at large endowments and large single family offices over the past two decades, and the Managing Member of Obair Capital, LLC, a private advisor on governance, operational and investment issues, to a Summit, NJ-based single family office, and an independent board member to a second, unrelated Boston, MA-based single family office.  Both families have a long term view of achieving a globally diversified, tax efficient portfolio of fund investments as well as select direct investments in real assets and private operating businesses. Recent and ongoing, direct investment research includes, among other ideas, seeding asset management firms, seeding brand extensions of established asset management firms, niche high value timber, farmland and related water rights, distressed commercial real estate with long term tax-exempt financing, commercial metals and mining, accessing world class innovation through established second tier centers of innovation (i.e. Tel Aviv, Los Angeles, Austin, etc.) and railcar and aircraft leasing. Mr. Dyra co-founded, in 2007, the MidSouth Alternative Investment Association (, a knowledge-based, networking nonprofit association of over 700 alternative investment professionals in Tennessee and surrounding states. The primary target audience are alternative investment professionals in Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Birmingham, Huntsville, Louisville, Atlanta and points in-between. Mr. Dyra was a Managing Director at New Legacy Capital, LLC with offices in Nashville, Tennessee and New York City, New York, from 2007 to 2010, providing sophisticated and unbiased global investment management products and services to families of substantial wealth and other institutional investors who seek superior risk-adjusted returns. As an Assistant Treasurer at Vanderbilt University from 2004 until 2007, Mr. Dyra was a member of the endowment investment team which exercised discretion over all asset classes and manager selection. Mr. Dyra’s specialist coverage included public equity/ fixed income investments and hedge funds, which represented over 70% of the $3.0 billion endowment. Mr. Dyra directed research at Mistral International, LLC, a fund of hedge funds from 2001 to 2002, and at Summit Strategies Group, Inc., an investment consultant to pension plans, insurance companies, endowments and foundations, from 1999 to 2001. As a portfolio manager and investment analyst at Northwestern University, from 1993 to 1999, Mr. Dyra oversaw asset allocation modeling for the $3.0 billion endowment and evaluating managers in many asset classes including alternative investments (i.e., private equity, venture capital, distressed securities, hedge funds, oil & gas, timber, etc.), equities, fixed income and real estate. As a public accountant at Arthur Andersen from 1987 to 1992, Mr. Dyra served investment companies, an ultra-high net worth individual and small business audit clients in Hamilton, Bermuda and Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Dyra earned an MBA from The Kellogg Graduate School of Management in 1997 and a BBA from Loyola University of Chicago in 1987. He has been a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) charter holder since 2001. He is also a member of the New York Society of Securities Analysts (NYSSA), American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS).

Before joining Rothschild, Mr. Riaz was a Managing Director and Member of the Investment Committee at Arden Asset Management, LLC (“Arden”), from July 2009 to March 2015, where he was responsible for creating and managing customized portfolios for several state, corporate and union pension plans, an insurance company and institutional investors.  Mr. Riaz also managed and led the investment process for the Arden PropPartners funds. Prior to Arden, Mr. Riaz was Chief Investment Officer of J.P. Morgan PropPartners Management Corp (“JPM PP”) formerly known as the Capital Markets Investment Program (“CMIP”) which since 1994 managed a portion of the Bank’s proprietary capital in a diversified portfolio of global hedge funds.  From 1983 to 1991, Mr. Riaz was General Manager of the predecessor Chemical Bank’s offices in Cairo, Bahrain and Singapore.  He joined Chemical Bank in 1976 in the International Operations Group, transferring to the Middle East territory of the International Division in 1980.  Mr. Riaz graduated magna cum laude from Princeton University in 1973 with a B.S. in Aerospace & Mechanical Engineering.   He also holds a graduate diploma from the University of Stockholm and an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University where he was the recipient of a Faculty Fellowship.

Event Type


Education Topic


Start Time

9/22/2015 5:00 PM

End Time

9/22/2015 7:30 PM





Event Country


Event Region



Rosewood Crescent Hotel (Main Ballroom)
400 Crescent Court
Dallas, Texas  75201
United States



CE Credits


SER Credit




Member Price


Non-Member Price


Candidate Price

50.00 if not a member


All Day Event





Dallas - Fort Worth


Content Type: MyCFA Custom Calendar
Created at 7/13/2015 1:57 PM by
Last modified at 7/13/2015 1:57 PM by