Spotlight on AIM Alumni

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In 1985, Leslie Schmidt's first job with KPMG (Peat Marwick at the time) was to audit funds and the management company at a small firm with fewer than 50 employees that occupied half of the 19th floor of 11 Greenway Plaza. The company was A I M Management Group.

Many people forget that Leslie Schmidt first worked at AIM as an auditor for KPMG. She has been a fixture at the firm for so long. Leslie learned what a fax machine, tick marks and a mutual fund were during her first week at AIM. More importantly, she learned more about her primary client, and by 1992 she joined AIM.
Leslie read the book After the Trade is Made: Processing Securities Transactions from cover to cover, part of her interest in learning the business, and in her almost 29 years with the firm, she says she kept the same company, while changing jobs, some in London and Dublin, and continuously learning and enjoying new challenges.
“Houston had a number of mutual fund and fund management companies,” remembers Leslie. “My reason for wanting to be and stay at AIM was the positive attitude, challenging work and the environment of teamwork. Senior leadership was approachable as well – this was all so enticing to me.”

My first job with KPMG was to audit funds at a small firm, A I M Management Group.

Leslie Schmidt

“As a team, Bob, Gary and Ted were a great leadership team, and a great complement to one another. One approach I learned was how Mr. Bauer - whom I finally called Ted after he visited AIM’s very small (10 person) office in London on numerous occasions - would stroll through the much larger AIM Houston office and talk to people. When I spent time in London and then returned to Dublin from 2008- 2010, I was head of a 300 person office. How do I stroll around the office and engage in conversation? I would bring chips and Texas Velveeta cheese and rotel and mix it up and familiarize them with chili con queso. I also made jambalaya one time.”

One approach I learned from Ted was strolling through the office - and in Dublin I shared Texas chili con queso!

Leslie Schmidt

Leslie says she never managed a portfolio or traded, but she did most other things at one time or another, including chairing a number of Manco and fund boards. Her longest position was her most recent one. She has been president and CEO of the Invesco Trust Company since 2012.
“It was great timing to retire; and leaving was bittersweet,” said Leslie. The pandemic was helpful as there were no good-byes, but it is regretful as well. There was no real closure.”

I have life-long friends.

Leslie Schmidt

Leslie has no concrete plans for the future, but since her return from Ireland in 2010, she has a page full of to-dos. In addition to tackling that, Leslie has a man in her life. A family friend in Reno, Nevada encouraged Leslie to get a dog.” In fact,” says Leslie, “she was relentless - a real dog with a bone. I relented and now I can say I finally found a man that can put up with me!”
“There will never be another company like AIM. It is amazing the connections I have through AIM or AIMsters. I have life-long friends,” said Leslie.


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DeDe Wilson posted a picture meeting up with John Blanton, Latrice Hughes and Teresa Hollins. Their friendships blossomed over the tenure at AIM. "We kept in touch on Facebook, we all are foodies so we just decided to try new and different restaurants together. Good friends and good food is always a great combination," said DeDe.

"I have been on one amazing ride with Invesco," said Dede. "I started as a temp at the tender age of 24, brand new mom of a 4 week old. Invesco, allowed me so many opportunities, that allowed me to accomplish so many personal goals." 

Invesco allowed me so many opportunities

DeDe Wilson

So much has changed though and it is so different now. It was so much fun back in the 90’s, but I love what I do and we work from home. So who doesn’t love that. We were working from home way before the pandemic hit. Since the pandemic, I do miss seeing my co-workers."
DeDe shared that she is turning 50 on May 16th and will be getting married on May 30.

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I will be getting married at the end of May

DeDe Wilson




Hal Barr: April 6, 1964 - February 1, 2021

Hayley Cestafe, Hal's daughter shared that Hal passed away February 1, 2021 from severe complications from Covid. Hayley was able to be by his side and hold his hand. 

"Hal loved his family - both his children and his AIM family", said Patti Hefley. Jim Salners hired Hal in 1995 as a NYSE Wholesaler. "Jim was a well liked wholesaler with a strength in presenting," said Jim. "I had  Hal join Steve Gregory and myself in what we called our Speakers Bureau. He developed several unique presentations, the most popular being what he titled 80/20. He was much in demand." 

A Memorial Service will be held later this year. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that you please consider making a donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) in Hal's memory. Here is the link

Hal is pictured with his son Keaton, who is studying at LSU, his daughter Hayley, who is practicing medicine and his son-in-law, Eddie.

Hal loved his children and his AIM family.


I was able to be there and hold his hand.

Daughter Hayley

In January 2016, we featured on the blog when he shared his new book, The First Billion's The Toughest. Hal said: "AIM was the highlight of my working career. It was a phenomenal place to work. Ted Bauer, Bob Graham and Gary Crum drove a sense of community and family. I had not experienced it before then and I have not experienced it after AIM. When the take over came through it definitely changed the whole complexion of the company. And with the passing of Ted Bauer, the change was complete," reflected Hal.

AIM was the higlight of my working career. Ted Bauer, Bob Graham and Gary Crum drove a sense of community and family

Hal Barr, 2016

His sales knowledge and experience are shared in his book, The First Billion’s The Toughest. Hal said the book was the culmination of 30 years in the profession of sales and highlights the many insights and lessons he learned. In the book he shared: "That is what sales is all about — it is making people feel comfortable with the decisions they make. If you would admit it, we are all engaged in wide varieties of activities that are in essence sales each day, be it trying to make a point during a board meeting in your workplace, or persuading our kids to heed our advice. Probably, the biggest sales proposition you will ever make is persuading someone to marry us; it is simply an attempt to sell something — love — to a person to whom you are attracted. I mean seriously, it does not get any bigger than that. To say we hate selling may be true, since we are all involved in selling each day of our lives, we could tell that understanding the Art, Science and Method of sales can help us become more successful in any endeavor we pursue."


Denise Byington: 1964-2020

We are very sad to share that Denise Byington, who worked at AIM from 1988-1993, passed away on December 5, 2020 after a courageous battle with cancer.  A private mass service was held for Denise's family on December 11. A larger celebration of her life is anticipated to be held in the summer of 2021 so that more dear friends and former colleagues may participate. 

Denise was a 1986 Finance graduate from Texas A&M, and soon after began her career with AIM where she was successful in many roles over the years, including serving as a fund accountant, manager of portfolio administration, and as an equity trader. Denise continued her career as an equity professional with J.P. Morgan Chase before retiring from the investments business after the birth of her daughter, Caroline.

Denise will be remembered for her beautiful smile and generous spirit 


Janet Luby was with AIM from 1987 -,1995 and returned to the firm in 2011 where she is still employed today. Janet was blessed to know Denise for more than 30 years. They worked together in Fund Accounting in the late 1980’s, before Denise moved to Investments and subsequently to JP Morgan. "This was such a fun and exciting time for all of us, and for AIM which was growing rapidly.  We formed very strong friendships and the “AIM girls” of which she was a part are even closer today," said Janet. 

"To say Denise was intelligent was an understatement, and she was so good at what she did," recalls Janet. "What set her apart is how she did it.  She had such a quick wit and sense of humor and could immediately see the irony or amusing side of any situation and deliver the most hilarious take on it.  These zingers were delivered in her quiet, soft spoken way which caused many a double take, then you’d see the mischief in her eyes and laugh all the harder." 

Continues Janet, "The key adjectives I’d use, however are kindness and love which she brought to everything and everyone.   She was such a wonderful person and friend.  Her faith, grace and courage through both her husband Bert’s battle with cancer and then her own were breathtaking. I’ll miss her always."


The “AIM girls” of which she was a part are even closer today

Janet Luby

Dana Sutton feels lucky to be one of the “AIM Girls”. "I was privileged to spend time with Denise in more recent years,." said Dana. "Her love of family and friends was quite evident.  The other thing that struck me quite profoundly was how intentionally she lived her life – she was very thoughtful about what she did and took opportunities to do the things that were important to her.  She was such a light – she will be greatly missed.

The other thing that struck me quite profoundly was how intentionally she lived her life

Dana Sutton

A proud Texan, Denise was intentional in her quest to be a positive impact on others, as shown by the gifts she and her family made to the Texas A&M Mays Business school for an endowed scholarship for Finance or Supply Chain Management majors, and to the Texas A&M EnMed program, a revolutionary initiative that allows medical students to simultaneously earn a Doctor of Medicine and a Master of Engineering in four years.  

Denise loved to travel and enjoyed fine art and food. She, Bert, and Caroline lived in London, England from 2009 - 2012. During this happy period, they made many lifetime friends and enjoyed the art, culture, and food of Europe. Denise completed the Camino de Santiago spiritual pilgrimage in 2018, walking 100 miles through Spain with her sister Carrie Byington and friends. 

She brought kindness and love to everything and everyone

Janet Luby


Denise is survived by her daughter Caroline Marie, her parents Al and Margot Byington, her siblings Carrie and Alan Byington and by many family members and friends in Texas and beyond, including her dear friend Jerry Mason. Denise was preceded in death by her husband Humberto Garcia.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to the MD Anderson Cancer Center for research or care related to pancreatic or lymphoma cancer, or to the Texas A&M University Engineering Medicine program.

Condolences may be left on Denise Byington’s online guest book.


Bonnie Donovan passed away following a lengthy illness on April 30, 2020. 

Bonnie worked with Mary Kay Coleman from 1994-2005, where her final position was Manager, Shareholder Relations. 

Mary Kay Coleman remembers the contributions Bonnie made to her team and the firm. "It has been said that when hiring people look for three things: integrity, intelligence, and initiative" said Mary Kay. "These qualities define Bonnie as a person and an employee. Bonnie always saw what needed to be done and got it done. She never missed a deadline. She was a superior writer and editor and an inspirational leader and supervisor. She had a quick wit and breezed through the office with a lively step and kind word for everyone she encountered along the way."

Brian Wirwicz was hired by Bonnie in 2000, and saw her and husband Gerry for lunch several months ago. "Bonnie was taking a chance on an experienced writer with no background in the financial industry when she hired me in consultation with Mary Kay Coleman," said Brian. "Bonnie’s mentorship skills, collegial leadership, insistence on excellence and good humor – especially under pressure – created an atmosphere of camaraderie and loyalty among her staff. She was an amazing woman I’m privileged to have met, worked for and learned from. I’ll remember her, and miss her, forever."

In addition to her full-time career in writing, publishing, and editing, Bonnie was married for over 50 years and has two daughters and four grandchildren.

Bonnie worked on publications for various employers, including St. Joseph Hospital and the American Productivity & Quality Center. She completed her career as an Assistant Vice President at AIM Management Company (now Invesco), where she was much admired by her associates as one of the best bosses ever.

Read the obituary.