The 67th president of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has been elected this year; Stacey Cunningham is the first female president in the 226 year history of the NYSE. Ironically, this comes out around the time for the demands to relocate the “fearless girl” statue that faces the NYSE and promotes female empowerment and encouragement in the finance sector. Cunningham began her NYSE career in the summer of 1994 as an intern and is currently the COO. Back in 2012, the first female co-president, Catherine Kinney, was appointed. The election of Cunningham means that Wall Street’s top two most powerful positions are currently women; since Nasdaq elected Adena Friedman as the CEO in January of 2017. Back in 1967 was the first time a woman owned a seat on the NYSE, Muriel Siebert.
Although the president will be a female it is still a male dominated industry. Of the 21 executives of NYSE’s corporate parent, Intercontinental Exchange Group, only four are women including Cunningham. Even Cunningham has admitted that women in finance is a rare occurrence and that the finance industry struggles with obtaining the balance of an equal ratio of men to women.
Cunningham’s history has lead her to this honorable and historic position. She graduated from Lehigh University in 1996 with a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering. After interning at the NYSE in the summer of 1994; her first post-graduation position was being one of a few dozen female trading floor clerks at NYSE compared to the thousands of male counterparts. There, she worked as a specialist from Bank of America. In 2005, Cunningham tried to revamp her career path as well as dealing with her frustrations at NYSE and left and began studying at the Institute of Culinary Education where she worked briefly as a chef. Cunningham came back to the finance world in 2007, where she worked for Nasdaq as a director of capital markets then began a position as the head of sales for U.S. transaction services until 2011. In 2012, she rejoined the NYSE team eventually becoming the chief operating officer in 2015 until the election of president in 2018. Cunningham is only 43 and plans to bring her experiences to the table to improve upon the inner workings of the NYSE.
The largest challenge Cunningham is expected to face is the shrinking significance of major exchanges with the rise of personal and electric trading. Cunningham’s history in technological advancements may help her pursue the improvements in their company to compete with online trading services and regain the dominance in the field. Although this may be a large hurdle for Cunningham to jump over the NYSE is currently the largest stock exchange in the world by market cap. NYSE is estimated to be $21.3 trillion as of June 2017 and is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC).
This historic leadership shift is not only a major move in the finance sector but for female and diversity inclusion nationally for all businesses. Friedman and Cunningham immediately discussed their hope and potential plan for more diversity in the finance world; as well as stating the importance of spreading education and positive message to young girls about their careers and showcasing as well as promoting the fact that Wall Street is more inclusive for women. Friedman obtained a MBA from Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management. She started at Nasdaq in 1993 and slowly but surely climbed the ladder to rise within the company. Similarly to Cunningham, Friedman she veered her path from Nasdaq to work as chief financial officer for Carlyle Group, however, came back to Nasdaq in 2014. Cunningham and Friedman plan to promote nationally to minority groups in the education system to bring awareness of the diverse and inclusive environment, specifically women.
McCoy, Kevin. “The NYSE President is a Woman, At Last.” USAToday.com. 22 May 2018.
Isidore, Chris. “NYSE Will Be Run By a Woman for the First Time in 226 Year History.” Money.CNN.com. 22 May 2018.
Romo, Vanessa. “A Woman Has Been Named As NYSE President.” NPR.com. 22 May 2018.
Pagliara, Jennifer. “Will Women Leading NYSE, Nasdaq Exchanges Bring More Diversity in Finance World?” Tennesian.com. 28 May 2018.
LinkedIn. “Stacey Cunningham Profile.”