Places lived: United States (Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, and North Dakota)
Education: Peter holds a PhD in business economics from Harvard University, and a BA in economics from Northwestern University.
Experience: Previously in his career, Peter held leadership roles at a number of organizations: Abundant Venture Partners (business development); Fidelity Investments (SVP); Pyramis Global Advisors (managing director); Fidelity Research Institute (managing director); Bain and Co. (case team leader); and National Economic Research Associates.
Focus: "Innovation and its diffusion. New business development and economic growth. Collaboration to solve industry-wide problems. Optimal design and long-term solvency of benefits systems and healthcare structures."
Intellectual influences: Milton Friedman, Daniel Kahneman, Glenn Hubbard, Thomas Kuhn, Steve Jobs, and Ernest Shackleton.
Turning points: Peter recalls that college was one pivotal turning point. "My father was a minister and we lived in several small Midwestern towns when I was a child. Then I got the opportunity to go to Northwestern and Chicago. The intellectual learning environment and independence was a breath of fresh air." A second turning point came at Harvard. "My dissertation topic addressed how industries can move from a current equilibrium to a superior equilibrium through cooperative effort. The choice I made after completing my PhD was pivotal. Although intrigued by the opportunity to produce additional economic research on these types of topics, I chose to be directly engaged in the leadership of industries and organizations making fundamental transitions, and it has been a very gratifying ride."
Peter's PhD, a joint degree awarded by the economics department and Harvard Business School, is also reflective of someone who doesn't mind crossing borders and blending perspectives. "Glenn Hubbard, who was then a professor at Northwestern, mentored and sponsored me. I knew about the program for several years and when the time came I was ready – to do serious research but also to get my hands dirty. I was a teaching fellow, lecturer, and researcher." Over time Peter become much more extroverted. "I like putting people and disciplines together. That's the way to get things done."
For most of his life Peter has operated at the crossroads between first class scholarship and the commercial development of new financial products that respond to major shifts in demand. At Fidelity, where he was responsible for growth strategy and innovation, Peter developed a portfolio approach that helps people in retirement, a growing percentage of the US population, draw down their assets in a way that best fits their needs. “Drawing down your retirement funds is probably more complicated than accumulating them,” he says. For several years Peter co-led Fidelity’s strategic new business group. “We needed to relate to all parts of Fidelity in all parts of the world – the asset managers, private equity, non-financial business units, and others. I liked the challenge. And I personally enjoyed the management experience.”
Peter is particularly proud of the work he did designing and launching the Fidelity Research Institute. The approach he took to building the Institute, which became known for its thought leadership and new product ideas, shows how Peter thinks as well as manages. From the start the Institute took a collaborative approach, teaming with outside experts, research institutions, and business partners. Peter also established an advisory board of leaders in a variety of disciplines – behavioral economics, psychology, public policy, investment theory, benefits design, etc. He established a prize that is awarded to a researcher who best advances the concept of lifelong financial security. He also organized a summit in Washington that brought together asset managers, insurance companies, think tanks, employers, and others to grapple with the future of healthcare financing and policy. “I really believe in the power of collaboration. Of course, you can't take collaboration for granted. But if you design it right and get the right people in the room, you have a much better chance of finding new ideas and making progress than if you try to go it alone.”
“Tapestry is a continuation of this thinking for me. Complex problems need multiple perspectives. The power is in bringing together concepts from psychology, systems dynamics, economics, and other disciplines. People need to share their ideas and fight for what they believe, but when you are working on tough issues like financial well being and healthcare, you also need to find new things to believe in.”
Peter is currently serving as a member of the advisory board of the Wharton Pension Research Council, which develops collaborative research on retirement systems in both the public and private sectors.