A message from our CEO


Barbara Zvan,
Inaugural President and Chief Executive Officer,
University Pension Plan Ontario (UPP)

Message from Barbara Zvan, inaugural President and CEO of the University Pension Plan Ontario (UPP)

It is a genuine honour to join the University Pension Plan Ontario (UPP) as its inaugural President and CEO.

The successful launch of the UPP will ensure sustainable defined benefit pensions for today’s plan members and generations of university sector employees to come.

In my decades of working in the pension industry, I have seen that effective pension plans start with putting plan members at the centre of every decision, delivering high quality service, and having a strong financial plan built on a solid foundation.

At the UPP, we have a unique opportunity to build on the strengths and values of the universities’ existing plans as we create a new plan that delivers stable and secure results for you, our plan members.

I am grateful for the sustained hard work of so many to get the UPP to this important milestone.

I am excited to work with the Board of Trustees – an extraordinary team with varied experience and deep expertise – to prepare for July 1, 2021 when, conditional on regulatory approvals, the UPP will become fully operational. This will be a watershed day for Ontario’s university sector as the UPP joins other world-recognized Ontario pension plans that have successfully adopted the jointly sponsored pension plan (JSPP) model.

As a JSPP, UPP’s governance is a shared responsibility between the employer and employee sponsors, giving members a new level of involvement in the governance of their pension plan. Working together, we can ensure smart and agile responses to new and emerging issues – like COVID-19 – and safeguard the long-term sustainability of Ontario university pension plans.

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Barbara Zvan
Inaugural President and Chief Executive Officer, University Pension Plan Ontario (UPP)

Barbara Zvan is a seasoned senior executive and visionary in the pension field. As a trained actuary and 25-year industry veteran, she brings expertise in pension administration and member services, pension design, enterprise strategy and risk management, long-term responsible investing, and leading high-performing teams.

After starting out as an assistant portfolio manager at the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Barbara took on increasing responsibilities as she rose to become its Chief Risk & Strategy Officer (CRSO) and leader of the Strategy and Risk team. As CRSO, Zvan supported the Plan sponsors in determining plan design and the Board in establishing a robust enterprise risk management framework anchored by a transparent risk appetite. She helped design a total fund investment strategy that delivered both leading returns and a stable, secure pension promise to members. She crafted the fund’s responsible investing and climate change strategy, leading Ontario Teachers’ to be named one of the world’s top responsible asset allocators by Bretton Woods II.

Recognized as a leading voice on sustainable investing and an ambassador for defined benefit pensions, Zvan is known for her efforts to bring institutional strength to complex challenges and forge new collaborative pathways for innovation and growth.

Zvan was appointed to the Government of Canada’s Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance, is a member of the Advisory Committee for the new ‘Investing to Address Climate Change’ Charter and played a significant role in creating the G7 Investor Leadership Network.

She serves on the boards of the Global Risk Institute and the Responsible Investment Association and the advisory board of the Institute of Sustainable Finance at the Smith School of Business. She was Chair of the International Centre of Pension Management and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board’s Investor Advisory Group, and served of the boards of the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance, Cadillac Fairview and the Chilean water utilities Esval (Essbio) S.A.

Zvan is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries and the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, a holder of the Institute of Corporate Directors designation (ICD.D) and has a Master of Mathematics degree from the University of Waterloo. She is an honouree of Canada's 2020 Clean50 and Canada's 2008 Top 40 Under 40.