Employee Spotlight

Lilly Farahnakian Chief Compliance Officer

Undergraduate degree: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Graduate degree: JD, Yale Law School
GCM Grosvenor tenure: Since December 2014
Hometown: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

 


Q: TELL US ABOUT YOUR ROLE.
As the Chief Compliance Officer, I make sure that we maintain a robust compliance program that ensures the firm follows laws and rules as needed for itself, our clients, and also for our employees. A good compliance program is a living, breathing program that evolves as new rules and regulations are created and grows to meet the changing needs of clients and employees. I work closely with our General Counsel to ensure our firm, policies, processes, and disclosures are in line with those ever evolving rules and regulations.

My team interacts with every department at the firm through policies, processes, trainings, questionnaires, certifications, and general compliance reminders. I challenge my team to think about how to reach different departments and different employees in a way that tailors the compliance messages to their needs.

I really enjoy my job. I have particularly liked getting to know the people, products, and clients.

Q: TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND CAREER PATH. WHAT WAS YOUR JOURNEY TO COMPLIANCE AND GCM GROSVENOR?
I had a really interesting career path. I deferred law school and worked for two years as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley in New York, focused on Latin America. After two years at Morgan Stanley, I attended Yale Law School.

Post-graduation, I went to a law firm called Willkie, Farr and Gallagher. At one point, I thought I would work there forever, but then I received a call from a recruiter informing me about an in-house legal role for J.P. Morgan and it seemed fated – the perfect blend of my previous experiences. Following my shift to finance, I next returned to Morgan Stanley to help provide legal coverage to the Morgan Stanley research department. The head of the department, who is now a mentor and friend, could tell I was smart, determined, and hard working so she hired me even though I didn’t have the exact background for the position. A few years later, J.P. Morgan called me back to offer me a job as Head of Compliance for Research, and my mentor encouraged me to do it as it was a great professional move. My role at J.P. Morgan grew as I became known as willing to take on new initiatives.

After a few years in that role, a recruiter who was a friend called me to ask if I would interview at GCM Grosvenor to be their CCO. It wasn’t directly in my world of research and investment banking but it sounded intriguing. I remember thinking I didn’t want to be disloyal to J.P. Morgan but I took the interview. My first interview was with the Vice Chairman and Chief Human Resources Officer. I sensed immediately that the executives here took compliance and legal seriously. I also connected with them personally and felt that these were the people that always sought to do the right thing and would both seek out and take my advice. After a thorough interview process, they offered me the position, and I took it.

Q: WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST ABOUT WORKING HERE?
The level of kindness and intelligence in so many of the people. You often find people who are nice or people that are good at their job, but to find so many that are both, in one company, is incredible.  The senior leaders in the firm have fostered an amazing culture.

Q: WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE WHO IS JUST STARTING HIS/HER CAREER?
A great way to start your career is to work as hard as you can, have patience and come with a large dose of humility.  Having worked at an investment bank and a law firm, many people in this industry come from prestigious universities and you may be given work that seems below your capability but that is how you learn. Sometimes you need to master that level of work to advance to a higher level of work. Learning your true craft does not come quickly.

Q: WHO INSPIRES YOU?
My parents, Ali and Azam, inspire me more and more. They moved to the U.S. in 1969 and started a family here without any support system. My brother, Ali, and I had a wonderful childhood. My parents taught us to work hard, be proud of who we are, and be good people. It’s overwhelming to think about how they came to this country as immigrants and rebuilt their lives and family without a network of people.  Whenever I have a tough day, I think about them for inspiration.

My brother is also a source of inspiration and courage. He works in the world of comedy and acting and started his own theater, which is a completely different path than mine but I’ve learned so much from him that I can adapt into my career. He is always my first call when I need professional advice.

Q: WHAT THREE WORDS WOULD YOU USE TO DESCRIBE GROSVENOR?
Client-focused.  Smart.  Humble.

Q: WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I have an 8 year old with an unbelievable amount of energy, and I enjoy spending lots of time with him. Because he is so energetic, we have two mini trampolines in the house. We chat while he is on the trampolines. He also loves performing science experiments so it is fun to watch him work on those projects.

When I’m not with my son, I try to watch or catch up on many of the great series out there. Lately, I have been watching “This is Us,” “Homeland,” “Westworld,” “Fargo,” and “The Crown.”

Q: WHAT MUSIC WOULD WE FIND ON YOUR PLAYLIST?
I’m obsessed with Spotify. I’m a random music lover. You can find me listening to anything from classical music, to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood, to old school musicals like Les Miserables. Lately I’ve been listening to Lucas Graham, Prince, and Adele along with songs from some of the Disney soundtracks.

Q: WHAT IS A BOOK THAT HAS INFLUENCED OR SHAPED YOU?
I read a lot. I am able to take in content quickly, which helps in the financial world. I believe this came from growing up as a bilingual speaker – speaking Farsi and English and loving languages.  I also learned French and Spanish. Right now, I like reading comedy memoirs – like Amy Schumer, Mindy Kailing, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler’s recent books. They make me laugh and keep my sense of humor while working in this very serious industry.

 

Previous Spotlights

Lilly FarahnakianChief Compliance Officer

Undergraduate degree: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Graduate degree: JD, Yale Law School
GCM Grosvenor tenure: Since December 2014
Hometown: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

 

Q: TELL US ABOUT YOUR ROLE.
As the Chief Compliance Officer, I make sure that we maintain a robust compliance program that ensures the firm follows laws and rules as needed for itself, our clients, and also for our employees. A good compliance program is a living, breathing program that evolves as new rules and regulations are created and grows to meet the changing needs of clients and employees. I work closely with our General Counsel to ensure our firm, policies, processes, and disclosures are in line with those ever evolving rules and regulations.

My team interacts with every department at the firm through policies, processes, trainings, questionnaires, certifications, and general compliance reminders. I challenge my team to think about how to reach different departments and different employees in a way that tailors the compliance messages to their needs.

I really enjoy my job. I have particularly liked getting to know the people, products, and clients.

Q: TELL US ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND CAREER PATH. WHAT WAS YOUR JOURNEY TO COMPLIANCE AND GCM GROSVENOR?
I had a really interesting career path. I deferred law school and worked for two years as an investment banker at Morgan Stanley in New York, focused on Latin America. After two years at Morgan Stanley, I attended Yale Law School.

Post-graduation, I went to a law firm called Willkie, Farr and Gallagher. At one point, I thought I would work there forever, but then I received a call from a recruiter informing me about an in-house legal role for J.P. Morgan and it seemed fated – the perfect blend of my previous experiences. Following my shift to finance, I next returned to Morgan Stanley to help provide legal coverage to the Morgan Stanley research department. The head of the department, who is now a mentor and friend, could tell I was smart, determined, and hard working so she hired me even though I didn’t have the exact background for the position. A few years later, J.P. Morgan called me back to offer me a job as Head of Compliance for Research, and my mentor encouraged me to do it as it was a great professional move. My role at J.P. Morgan grew as I became known as willing to take on new initiatives.

After a few years in that role, a recruiter who was a friend called me to ask if I would interview at GCM Grosvenor to be their CCO. It wasn’t directly in my world of research and investment banking but it sounded intriguing. I remember thinking I didn’t want to be disloyal to J.P. Morgan but I took the interview. My first interview was with the Vice Chairman and Chief Human Resources Officer. I sensed immediately that the executives here took compliance and legal seriously. I also connected with them personally and felt that these were the people that always sought to do the right thing and would both seek out and take my advice. After a thorough interview process, they offered me the position, and I took it.

Q: WHAT HAS SURPRISED YOU MOST ABOUT WORKING HERE?
The level of kindness and intelligence in so many of the people. You often find people who are nice or people that are good at their job, but to find so many that are both, in one company, is incredible.  The senior leaders in the firm have fostered an amazing culture.

Q: WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE WHO IS JUST STARTING HIS/HER CAREER?
A great way to start your career is to work as hard as you can, have patience and come with a large dose of humility.  Having worked at an investment bank and a law firm, many people in this industry come from prestigious universities and you may be given work that seems below your capability but that is how you learn. Sometimes you need to master that level of work to advance to a higher level of work. Learning your true craft does not come quickly.

Q: WHO INSPIRES YOU?
My parents, Ali and Azam, inspire me more and more. They moved to the U.S. in 1969 and started a family here without any support system. My brother, Ali, and I had a wonderful childhood. My parents taught us to work hard, be proud of who we are, and be good people. It’s overwhelming to think about how they came to this country as immigrants and rebuilt their lives and family without a network of people.  Whenever I have a tough day, I think about them for inspiration.

My brother is also a source of inspiration and courage. He works in the world of comedy and acting and started his own theater, which is a completely different path than mine but I’ve learned so much from him that I can adapt into my career. He is always my first call when I need professional advice.

Q: WHAT THREE WORDS WOULD YOU USE TO DESCRIBE GROSVENOR?
Client-focused.  Smart.  Humble.

Q: WHAT DO YOU DO OUTSIDE OF WORK?
I have an 8 year old with an unbelievable amount of energy, and I enjoy spending lots of time with him. Because he is so energetic, we have two mini trampolines in the house. We chat while he is on the trampolines. He also loves performing science experiments so it is fun to watch him work on those projects.

When I’m not with my son, I try to watch or catch up on many of the great series out there. Lately, I have been watching “This is Us,” “Homeland,” “Westworld,” “Fargo,” and “The Crown.”

Q: WHAT MUSIC WOULD WE FIND ON YOUR PLAYLIST?
I’m obsessed with Spotify. I’m a random music lover. You can find me listening to anything from classical music, to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood, to old school musicals like Les Miserables. Lately I’ve been listening to Lucas Graham, Prince, and Adele along with songs from some of the Disney soundtracks.

Q: WHAT IS A BOOK THAT HAS INFLUENCED OR SHAPED YOU?
I read a lot. I am able to take in content quickly, which helps in the financial world. I believe this came from growing up as a bilingual speaker – speaking Farsi and English and loving languages.  I also learned French and Spanish. Right now, I like reading comedy memoirs – like Amy Schumer, Mindy Kailing, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler’s recent books. They make me laugh and keep my sense of humor while working in this very serious industry.

 

Dianna Di Iorio HenrichSenior Vice President, Investments - Public Markets

Alma maters: Northwestern University and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business
GCM Grosvenor tenure: Since 2007
Hometown: Long Grove, Illinois
Favorite place in the world: South Africa, where I traveled for my honeymoon

Q: WHAT ARE YOUR CURRENT RESPONSIBILITIES AT GCM GROVENOR?
I am currently a Portfolio Manager for our hedge fund business and oversee multi-strategy portfolios as well as other specialized strategies and custom mandates. The role includes a balance between the investment-focused portfolio construction and monitoring process and maintaining and developing client relationships. I am also active in furthering the firm’s socially responsible investing initiative, which focuses on incorporating environmental, social and corporate governance factors into our core business. Additionally, I lead the women and minority hedge fund initiative for our firm. Last, I am active in the GCM Grosvenor mentoring program.

Q: HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH THE FIRM?
I was introduced to GCM Grosvenor by a colleague when I was with JPMorgan. Although I received a letter of rejection after contacting the firm, I did not give up. A year later, I went to a CFA event where GCM Grosvenor’s head of equity research was speaking. I introduced myself and, after a conversation, was invited to interview. I was offered a job as an equity research analyst. Today, the framed letter of rejection hangs in my office as a reminder to continue working hard despite obstacles.

Q: WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR FREE TIME?
I remain very active with Northwestern University. I ran my class’ five- and 10-year reunions. I also volunteer and fundraise for the University, and I continue to be a big football fan despite the team’s well-earned reputation as the Cardiac ‘Cats. To keep in shape, I spin and take dance classes (I was on the dance team at Northwestern).

Q: WHO WAS/IS YOUR ROLE MODEL?
Professionally speaking, my role model is Mary Erdoes at JPMorgan. While working at JPMorgan, I observed her fast and steady growth. I watched how she developed relationships with and was respected by men and women alike. She also championed the idea of “work-life integration” instead of “work-life balance,” which remains an ongoing pursuit for me. On a personal basis, my former roommate, Natalie, is my role model. She was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer at age 28. She has fought the disease with such strength and started her own foundation, Team Nat Foundation, to raise research money for her type of cancer. She continues to be an inspiration to me and keeps me grounded with proper perspective.

Q: TELL ME ABOUT SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN INFLUENTIAL IN YOUR CAREER
I was painfully shy when I joined the firm. The curriculum for math majors was not exactly focused on public speaking! Tom Meagher, a colleague on the Business Development team, brought me on client and prospect visits and coached me on my delivery and presence. He taught me how to present effectively to small and large groups. He was and continues to be an important advocate and role model for me.

Q: WHAT WOULD YOU TELL SOMEONE WHO IS JUST STARTING HIS/HER CAREER?
Be humble. Take every opportunity to help the organization be successful, even if you find certain tasks mundane. Also, actively seek to be a mentee and mentor at all times. There is always someone from whom you can learn and someone who can learn from you.

Jason HowardDirector, Investments - Private Markets

Alma mater: Emory University – Goizueta Business School
GCM Grosvenor tenure: Since 2009
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Favorite vacation spot: Vail, Colorado

Q: TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND CAREER PATH. WHAT WAS YOUR JOURNEY TO GCM GROSVENOR?
I started my career as a three-year analyst at Goldman Sachs, where I focused on mergers and acquisitions as well as advising media and entertainment companies. When I ended the analyst program, I joined Turner Broadcasting in Atlanta (my hometown), and then the Disney Film Studio in Burbank, California, to gain further experience in the media and entertainment industry. After Disney, realizing I missed the world of finance, I returned to investment banking at Goldman Sachs.

In 2009, I joined Credit Suisse’s Customized Fund Investment Group as an associate. I was drawn to CFIG because it had a unique value proposition to me as a professional. It allowed me to develop deep expertise in private equity by providing exposure to the entire industry, learning how managers generate value, and discovering how some of the best minds in the world invest. When GCM Grosvenor acquired CFIG in 2014, I continued to focus on my passion in this space. In addition, early in my tenure at the firm, I became involved in our efforts of investing with diverse and women managers, which is an area I continue to focus on today.

Q: WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR AVERAGE DAY?
I meet with private equity fund managers to evaluate their investment strategies. I collaborate with clients regarding investment opportunities for their programs, and I also evaluate and source new co-investment and fund investment opportunities. I work with many colleagues at GCM Grosvenor to understand market opportunities, the current private equity landscape and any risks and considerations for potential investment opportunities. Although I’m based in the firm’s Los Angeles office, I feel very connected because of the frequency and depth of communication across the firm. It is very much a team-oriented environment.

My particular focus is on investing with small, emerging and diverse managers. It is interesting to partner with these strong investment professionals as they build new firms, which provide us access to unique investment opportunities. I became interested in this area after I saw the firm’s extensive efforts to raise the visibility of these managers. It is great to be a part of their successes, and I believe it demonstrates the firm’s dedication to supporting diversity in the industry.

Q: TELL US ABOUT YOUR ROLE WITH GCM GROSVENOR’S SMALL AND EMERGING MANAGERS CONFERENCE (SEM CONFERENCE).
I am thrilled to be a part of our SEM Conference, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2016. As part of the planning committee for the conference, I am involved in creating content and identifying speakers who can share compelling stories about their engagement in the emerging managers marketplace. In particular, I focus on developing conference panels that highlight how we at GCM Grosvenor evaluate real-world investment opportunities and react to various situations that arise as we pursue and monitor both fund investments and co-investments. The conference is a wonderful opportunity to bring together limited partners and general partners who are committed to the emerging managers sector. The conference allows for networking, as well as education about and for emerging managers. We invite professionals throughout the industry to attend the SEM Conference because we focus on creating a large, inclusive audience of participants. Last year, we hosted more than 600 attendees in Chicago for two days of professional development and networking.

Q: WHO HAVE BEEN YOUR PROFESSIONAL ROLE MODELS?
I have had two mentors throughout my career. The first is Rob Pace, who was a Partner during my tenure at Goldman Sachs. Rob was the type of multi-faceted leader who built trusting, long-term relationships with clients, cared about people on his team, and always made time for others no matter how busy he was. You can see elements of his influence in my work today and in how I support my teams.

Derek Jones, a Managing Director at GCM Grosvenor and my current direct manager, has also been a mentor. It has been inspiring to watch his success. He freely shares his expertise and experience in private equity to help the next generation of the firm’s leaders develop. He also provides me with opportunities to demonstrate my capabilities and takes the time to share candid feedback on my work. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with and learn from a leader like Derek.

Q: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE LOOKING TO START A CAREER IN THE INVESTMENT WORLD?
Develop strong finance skills because they are the foundation of everything we do. In addition, learn how to communicate solutions to complex problems in simple ways.

Q: WHEN YOU’RE NOT AT WORK, WHAT CAN WE FIND YOU DOING?
I spend my free time with my wife and 4-year-old son – he is very entertaining and his favorite thing to do right now is play with daddy. We like to be very active and spend time exploring our home community in Orange County, hiking, visiting amusement parks and going to the beach.

Q: WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE SOURCES OF ENTERTAINMENT?
My favorite TV show is “24”, and my favorite movie is “Skyfall”. I am drawn to the action, intrigue and unique problem-solving present in both.