Nasdaq’s chief has firm blood in her veins


Adena Friedman bleeds Nasdaq blue, a former colleague stated of the trade’s newly named chief government.

Ms Friedman started her skilled profession as an intern at Nasdaq, whose emblem is blue, greater than 20 years in the past when the exchanges operator itself was a younger upstart.

“It was the corporate that listed Microsoft,” and, to the enterprise faculty grad, “it sounded cool and up and coming.”

Subsequent month she is going to substitute Bob Greifeld, her mentor and one other individual with Nasdaq in his veins. He wrote his enterprise faculty thesis on the operator and steps down after 14 years to turn out to be chairman of Nasdaq’s board.

Ms Friedman will take the helm of an organization that’s vastly totally different from the one she first knew. Over the previous decade or so, as margins for buying and selling have thinned, Nasdaq has advanced from a single fairness change to a multi-faceted monetary know-how and providers firm. Solely a few quarter of income now comes immediately from buying and selling.

Ms Friedman nonetheless has her work reduce out, although. Nasdaq is squaring off with a brand new competitor in IEX, the protagonist within the Michael Lewis ebook Flash Boys, which is shaking up the business by slowing down orders to and from its venue to thwart excessive velocity merchants. IEX has vowed to tackle the NYSE-Nasdaq duopoly in listings subsequent.

Nasdaq, furthermore, is resolutely staying solo in an business that continues to consolidate. Most just lately rival Bats International Markets agreed to tie up with CBOE Holdings, whereas the London Inventory Change and Deutsche Börse have agreed to mix.

“You will get wrapped up in that megamerger mentality,” she stated. “We’ve been acquisitive up to now … We’ll proceed to guage that, however it’s all about our clients and delivering the fitting return to shareholders. For those who do this, every little thing else will fall into place.”

Ms Friedman would be the first feminine head of a number one US change. “I hope [my role] attracts ladies into the business and makes them realise that it’s potential,” she stated.

There was knowledgeable dalliance outdoors Nasdaq. In 2011, she joined Carlyle, the personal fairness group, as chief monetary officer, a choice she calls “intestine-wrenching”.

“I had a implausible job in an excellent firm however I had been at Nasdaq for 17 years,” she stated.

The change put her on the opposite aspect of company listings — she was employed within the run-as much as Carlyle’s preliminary public providing on Nasdaq. “It was extremely interesting to assist them by way of that,” she stated.

Carlyle additionally introduced the prospect to be in the identical metropolis as her husband and two sons. For lots of her profession, together with now, Ms Friedman has stored an condo in Manhattan however a house base in Washington.

“Flat-out, the time I wasn’t working I used to be spending with the youngsters and my husband,” she stated. That features getting a black belt in Taekwondo, which she practices together with her son and husband.

I hope [my role as the frist female head of a US exchange] attracts ladies into the business and makes them realise that it’s attainable

A number of years in at Carlyle she obtained a name from Mr Greifeld to return again. The subsequent yr, she was named chief working officer making her Mr Greifeld’s inheritor obvious.

“It was a nicely thought out succession plan,” stated Richard Repetto, an analyst at Sandler O’Neill. “She has had a number of roles at Nasdaq — CFO, COO — that make her educated in several areas of the enterprise.”

Regardless of her familiarity with Nasdaq, Ms Friedman is decided by no means to turn out to be complacent.

An instance is blockchain, the ledger know-how of bitcoin that has the potential to disrupt the capital markets. Nasdaq embraced it early on and helps different corporations combine it as a part of the market know-how enterprise.

“It’s a extremely aggressive area,” she stated. “We’d like to ensure we’re always staying forward, eager about what’s coming.”

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