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UTIMCO CEO Honored as BBYO'S Alumni of the Year

Read this story in The Jewish Outlook

For the past 7 years, Bruce Zimmerman has headed the University of Texas Investment Management Co. (UTIMCO), overseeing endowment investments for The University of Texas and Texas A&M Systems.

But, long before he began managing $31 billion, he was leading thousands of teenagers as the international president of BBYO.

Last month, Zimmerman was honored as BBYO's Alumni of the Year at the International Convention in Dallas.

"Growing up in the Lone Star State, my involvement in AZA shaped the values that I espouse to this day. It is truly special to receive this honor in my home state where I have so many great memories of my time in BBYO."

Zimmerman grew up in Houston, where he was a member at Temple Emanu El and attended Bellaire High School. He says BBYO was his "gang" and that's where he spent a lot of his social time.

He enjoyed the team sports. He says, "As a teenager, I wasn't the first pick on anyone's team. So, when it came to BBYO, I got to play flag football and basketball." But that wasn't the only reason he liked BBYO. "There was a religious component and a community service component. I liked being part of something bigger than myself. You know, I just liked the whole program."

After high school, Zimmerman attended Duke University and Harvard Business School. And, like many students, he wasn't sure what he was going to do after graduation.

"I wasn't an engineer, I didn't study geology or chemistry. I needed to get a job. My dad threw me off his payroll. But I could count. I think I understood business so that's what I did."

He began working for Bain & Company, where he said, "Mitt [Romney] was my first boss."

Then, Zimmerman went on to hold managerial roles at Texas Commerce Bank (which is now JPMorgan Chase) and Citigroup, before moving to Austin to become chief executive officer and chief investment officer of UTIMCO. The company is in charge of investing the second largest pool of university money in the United States.

Zimmerman says his years as the Grand Aleph Gadol of BBYO and Aleph Gadol of the Texas-Oklahoma region (Texoma) were an "invaluable experience" that "certainly helped prepare me" for future leadership roles.

"I think a person's set of values, their moral compass, usually is very much influenced by their religion and their religious background. And I think I am very fortunate -- through BBYO, through my Temple growing up -- that my religion is meaningful to me and so I can't imagine that it doesn't influence my professional life."

Zimmerman says he absolutely would recommend BBYO to Jewish teens. "The first thing is you're going to meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends. And, if that's all that happens, you're way ahead of the game. But, it's also likely you're going to find some elements of the program -- religious, social, athletic, civic -- that will resonate with you."

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