Michael Ewens

David L. and Elsie M. Dodd Professor of Finance, Columbia Business School

Michael Ewens is the David L. and Elsie M. Dodd Professor of Finance and co-director of the Private Equity Program. He is also a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Associate Editor of the Journal of Financial Economics, Associate Editor at the Review of Financial Studies, Associate Editor at the Journal of Corporate Finance, and co-editor of the Journal of Economics & Management Strategy. He received a Ph.D. in economics from the University of California, San Diego. Since 2006 he has been a quantitative advisor for Correlation Ventures, a quantitative-focused venture capital firm.

His research has appeared in the Economist, Bloomberg, and the New York Times. Prof. Ewens has taught venture capital and private equity finance at Columbia Business School, California Institute of Technology, Wharton School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, and the University of California San Diego. From 2010 to 2014, he was on the faculty at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, and from 2014 to 2022, he was on the faculty at the California Institute of Technology. He co-organizes the Columbia Private Equity Conference and the virtual Workshop on Entrepreneurial Finance and Innovation.


Drew Conway

Head of Data Science, Private Investments, Two Sigma

Drew Conway joined Two Sigma in April 2019 and is currently Head of Data Science for Two Sigma’s private investment businesses, where his responsibilities include oversight of all private investment data science initiatives including those related to Two Sigma Real Estate, where he manages strategy and resourcing.

Prior to joining Two Sigma, Mr. Conway founded Alluvium to bridge the gap between industrial machine data and the businesses and consumers who use this data to make better decisions. He served as CEO and was the driving force behind the company’s vision and growth, until its acquisition in 2019 (acquired by Augury). Mr. Conway is a former senior advisor to the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics for the City of New York, and he previously served as an advisor to Mortar Data (acquired by Datadog in 2015) and YHat (acquired by Alteryx in 2017). Mr. Conway started his career as a computational social scientist in the U.S. intelligence community, supporting the U.S. counter-terrorism mission.

Mr. Conway is also the co-founder of DataKind, a global non-profit of pro bono data scientists, and sits on its advisory board. He also sits on the advisory boards of multiple other startups, academic institutions, and government agencies. Mr. Conway is also the author of “Machine Learning for Hackers,” an introductory text on machine learning techniques.

Mr. Conway is a graduate of Hamilton College and holds a Ph.D. from New York University.


Ashley Lester

Chief Research Officer, MSCI

Ashley Lester is responsible for the development of MSCI’s research globally, spanning the company’s wide range of product lines and clients. Ashley works closely with MSCI’s product, client coverage, technology and marketing teams to ensure the continued development of innovative research, analysis and solutions. He is also a member of MSCI’s Executive Committee.

He joins the firm with over a decade of extensive experience in business leadership, investment management and multi-asset class investment research. Most recently, he served as the founding Head of Systematic Investments at Schroders plc in London, where he led a team managing over $20 billion in equity factor and ESG strategies. He also served in Schroders’ Multi-Asset Investment Group as Head of Multi-Asset Research.

Before Schroders, Ashley served as MSCI’s Head of Fixed Income and Multi-Asset Class Research and as Managing Director and Head of Market Risk Analytics at Morgan Stanley. He was also previously an Assistant Professor of Economics at Columbia Business School and Brown University as well as a Graduate Economist at the Reserve Bank of Australia.

He holds a Bachelor of Economics from The University of Sydney, where he won the University Medal, and a PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


Michelle DiGruttolo

Founder & Principal Advisor, Sage Raven Advisors

As the founder and principal advisor of Sage Raven Advisory, Michelle leverages over three decades of intelligence tradecraft and leadership experience to provide clients with actionable strategic advice. Prior to launching Sage Raven, Michelle co-founded a professional services consulting firm and built a successful, technology-enabled geopolitical consulting practice where she served clients in industries spanning energy, finance, manufacturing, and technology. A former daily intelligence advisor to President Obama, Michelle DiGruttolo is an accomplished executive leader, trusted advisor, expert strategist, and compelling geopolitical speaker who delivers high-energy keynotes and presentations that enable her audiences to understand how geopolitics can affect their business and investment decisions.

Previously, Michelle served in the U.S. Army in critical intelligence roles focused on counterterrorism, counternarcotics and counterproliferation threats. She was hand-selected as a Daily Intelligence Briefer to President Barack Obama after having successfully led the team responsible for crafting and producing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs’ Daily Brief. Michelle now advises C-suite executives and boards on geopolitical, cyber, and emerging technology risks affecting global operations, investments, and strategy.

Michelle holds an MBA from the University of Virginia and a master’s in political science from the University of North Carolina, among other advanced qualifications.




The Institute for Private Capital improves public understanding of the role of private capital in the global economy. Academic and industry experts work together to generate new knowledge about private capital markets based on objective academic research.