Stacey Cunningham began her path to NYSE presidency as an intern in 1994, a position she held as a nineteen-year-old software engineering student.
After her two year internship, Stacey joined the trading floor as a clerk, one of the few females in the finance industry. She moved through the ranks, becoming a specialist, a position she held until 2005 when she left on a brief hiatus to complete courses in culinary arts. Her return to the industry brought her to NASDAQ as director of capital markets, and later head of sales. Cunningham returned to the New York Stock Exchange, becoming the chief operating officer.
As of May 2018, Stacey became first female president of the NYSE.
Historically, Wall Street (and finance and technology industries as a whole), are primarily made up of and managed by men. As Stacey commented in an interview with The Today Show “I do look forward to a day when a woman taking a job isn’t newsworthy, but we aren’t quite there yet.”
Her landmark appointment as President of the NYSE suits her well, adding overall value to opportunity met with merit, matched with skill.
Cunningham holds a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering, demonstrating a strong foundation for optimization and organization of complex systems. “We process 50 billion messages a day,” Stacey says. As a tool for working in the realm of man and machine, her viewpoint is to “Keep it simple.” In addition to her new position being a positive step toward workplace equality, Stacey appreciates the intrinsic human value and suggests solutions for balancing innovative technologies.
Stacey’s focus on technology, mitigation of risks therein and preparation to scale transformative innovation with people across the exchange proves her as a valuable asset in today’s technological age. Her initial decision to leave her Wall Street position in 2005 stemmed from frustration with lack of technological advancement within the exchange. With today’s innovative tech and adoption through the NYSE, Cunningham is well-suited for the role as president, as an optimistic encourager of progress for transformative technologies at the trading floor.
During a World Of Opportunity seminar, Stacey discussed how she progressed in her own career, how she approaches her decision making, and where her focus is. “Make sure to have the right goal”, says Stacey. “It’s not so much about planning…Every decision, I always made with the goal of choosing what was right for the business.” Cunningham acknowledges organizational effectiveness by alluding to togetherness, stating, “it’s not about me”, making
clear her intentions of prioritizing company goals, maintaining the NYSE mission, providing possibilities for more companies to go public, and preparing accordingly.
“We have to have people aware of what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it…” she says
Cunningham speaks on working with Washington to find balance with regulations, making trade and IPOs more accessible for smaller companies, smaller investors, and opportunities for future innovations such as the rapidly evolving cryptocurrency space, creating better opportunities inspiring long-term growth throughout the market.
Cunningham acknowledges her own personal inspirations, such as Muriel Siebert, who had the first NYSE seat owned by a woman in 1967, as paving the way for women in Wall Street.
“Finding that spirit where you are willing to go on and take over the world, I think we all have to be doing that.” Stacey recently wrote in an article called “ Collectively, we can change the world.” where she states:
“…nothing replaces hard work. Our workplaces must aspire to full gender equality, but also true meritocracy. I’ve been working with the gears and guts of my industry for nearly 25 years. I’ve aspired to learn as much as possible from everyone around me and, in turn, share what I know. All of this has equipped me for the role I’ve been given, one I feel well prepared for, as anyone would who’s invested thousands of hours in a vocation that you love.”
This passion, energy, and overall acumen brings optimism in action for the future of finance, technology and people as a whole. There is real value in equity, and earning based on merit. With Cunningham’s move to Presidency, the famous “Fearless Girl” statue moves with her, where they both secure their home at the NYSE.