How Dawn Kanelleas perfected the science of small-cap investing

Matthew Kidman

Centennial Asset Management

Dawn Kanelleas has always been academically competitive. The daughter of socially progressive Greek immigrants, she knew, even from a young age, that she was destined to break the social norms of the time. 

And so, she decided academics would be a suitable path, donning a laboratory coat for a degree in the male-dominated world of science and later a research position at Oxford University.

Luckily, for many of her investors today, this didn't stick. 

Backed with a PhD in rare earths, Kanelleas would go on to hold a litany of positions over nearly 15 years before becoming a senior portfolio manager at Colonial First State during the GFC. Today, she heads up First Sentier Investors' small and mid-cap coverage and oversees billions of dollars in the process.

But it's her desire to "win" that has truly helped her succeed in the world of finance. Over the past decade, Kanelleas has delivered staggering returns in the small-cap arena, far outperforming the S&P/ASX Small Ordinaries Index (see below).

The performance of the Australian Small Companies Fund since Kanelleas became its senior portfolio manager in 2008. (Source: First Sentier)

In this episode of SAMIS, you'll learn all about Kanelleas' journey, her scientific strategy for success in small caps, as well as the other passions that have shaped the woman she is today. 


Time codes

0:00 - Intro
3:34 - Early life
12:35 - Journey into academia
21:50 - Return to Australia
25:25 - Starting in finance
36:45 - Financial lessons
52:00 - Passions outside finance

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Matthew Kidman
Principal and Portfolio Manager
Centennial Asset Management

Matthew is the Principal and Portfolio Manager at Centennial Asset Management. Prior to this, Matthew was the CIO at Wilson Asset Management between 1998 and 2011, achieving 18% p.a. over the period.

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