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Barbara Zvan, seen in a 2009 file photo, has been at Teachers for nearly 25 years and took up her current role at the start of 2017.Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan is losing one of its top executives, as chief risk and strategy officer Barbara Zvan has decided to leave at the end of February.

Ms. Zvan has been at Teachers for nearly 25 years and took up her current role at the start of 2017. She told staff of her departure plans on Jan. 9, just days after Jo Taylor took over as chief executive officer of Teachers. He succeeded Ron Mock, who retired after six years at the pension plan’s helm.

“Barb has played a pivotal role in establishing Ontario Teachers’ as a global leader in risk management and responsible investing,” Mr. Taylor said in an e-mailed statement.

Ms. Zvan’s senior role combining oversight of both risk and strategy is relatively rare in the pension sector, but she is highly regarded in the industry for her thoughtful approach and calm demeanour. Trained as an actuary, she started as an assistant portfolio manager in 1995 and worked her way through Teachers’ ranks.

She is believed to have been a candidate during the pension plan’s recent search for a CEO. Ms. Zvan was not available for an interview but said in a statement: "I have been incredibly fortunate to be part of the growth and evolution of our plan and the entire Canadian pension industry.”

More recently, Ms. Zvan has emerged as a leading voice on sustainable investing and finance, as Canadian companies begin to grapple with growing awareness of the threats from climate change. She was one of four members of a federal expert panel on sustainable finance, struck by the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in the spring of 2018.

The panel – chaired by Tiff Macklem, dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management and a director at Bank of Nova Scotia – delivered a final report with 15 recommendations last summer, urging Canadian businesses to overhaul their practices to meet the challenge, and to make sustainability a mainstream part of the financial sector.

Ms. Zvan has also been active outside of Teachers, chairing the Investor Advisory Group of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board as well as the International Centre for Pension Management. And she played a key role in creating the National Pension Hub at the Global Institute, where she still serves as a director.

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