Ellen Cooper


As a young girl, Ellen Cooper had aspirations to become a Broadway star. She entered Temple as a dance major, but soon changed to Actuarial Science after realizing her strongest talents weren’t necessarily in the performing arts. Ms. Cooper credits Dr. Bonnie Averbach, her mentor at the Fox School’s Actuarial Science program, with helping her successfully make the switch. “Dr. Averback constantly encouraged me. She’d remind me that math was all about repetition and practice. For that reason, even if I knew how to solve a problem, I’d still do it again and again.”

Dr. Averbach went on to help Ms. Cooper find her first internships and even chauffeured her to and from a night course held at Temple’s Center City campus. Ultimately, Ms. Cooper’s career led her to become executive vice president and chief investment officer for Lincoln Financial Group, where she leads a team of 125 employees who manage more than $225 billion in assets. She says sound, efficient decision-making is a process rooted in communication and relationships. “It’s important to share context and the facts that led to your conclusions,” she says. “When others understand your thought-process, they can get more engaged in the discussion and put forward additional ideas and points of view.” Ms. Cooper advises job-seekers to reflect carefully on company culture. She quotes a manager at Goldman Sachs from her time working there: “’You can’t change company culture. You either buy into it or you end up leaving.’” She also encourages recent graduates to recognize that it’s okay to fail. “Be comfortable and confident trying new things. You might not always succeed, but make that realization quickly and move on.”

Temple University Degree
Bachelor of Business Administration ’85, Fox School of Business

Current Title & Company
Executive vice president and chief investment officer, Lincoln Financial Group

Temple University Awards & Affiliations

  • Commencement Speaker, Fox School of Business
  • Dean’s Council, Fox School of Business