179. Sara Bonesteel, CIO at Prudential Insurance – The Power of Preparation and the Middle Voice

Sara Bonesteel is Chief Investment Officer- International Insurance at Prudential Financial, located in the NYC area.  She was previously a managing director in Bear Stearns and JP Morgan. She is an Independent Director of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and holds a number of other Board and Investment Committee Roles.

Our conversation starts with Sara’s upbringing in Michigan and then her high school and later college debate activities – this was a discipline in which she excelled, and she and her debate partner were the first female debate team at Georgetown.  We speak about the skills required in debate – which include meticulous preparation and performance training and how that prepared her for a professional career later.  We move then to her career in finance and how it started via a brief spell as a paralegal in a law firm which appeared “Dickensian” in its stuffiness, a spell which led to a shift to finance.

Sara then layered business training onto her liberal arts background and we cycle through her career that has culminated, to date, in her CIO role at a major US insurer.  We discuss the issues on her mind today, the challenges and opportunities in investing across a checkered fixed income landscape and how ESG factors are slowly trickling in to the US marketplace albeit at a slower pace than elsewhere around the world.

Among Sara’s extensive other interests are her board roles and we ask the typical question as to what makes an effective Board Director or Chair, particularly on an Investment Committee.  We then explore her love of chamber music and playing the viola in particular and spend a little time considering the “middle voice” of this instrument.  The “middle voice” and its important in creating harmony, bridging differences and providing ballast is a good metaphor for the business world too.

Finally we end with a discussion of Sara’s personal reflections and people who inspire her, and one of them is her husband who founded and is deeply committed to charity that recycles and repurposes old computer equipment for sending into under-privileged homes. Laptop Upcycle can be found here – you may wish to check it out: Http://laptopupcycle.org

Series 1 of 2023 is brought to you with the kind support of HarbourView Equity Partners, a global investment firm focused on opportunities in the entertainment and media space. Founded by Sherrese Clarke Soares, HarbourView is a long-term investor in content with an industrial platform built to protect, optimize, and enhance the legacy of premium IP. With a vision of becoming a true stakeholder in the global value of content, HarbourView believes creators deserve a seat at the table creatively and economically, owning their narrative and maximizing value for all. https://www.harbourviewequity.com/

In celebration of our partnership with HarbourView Equity Partners we have selected a separate piece of music for each of the podcasts in this series.  We hope you enjoy them.