Meet the first woman to lead the NYSE in 226 years
Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Tory Burch Foundation(NEW YORK) — Stacey Cunningham will take the reins of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Friday, shattering the glass ceiling to become the first female president in the Big Board’s 226-year history.
Cunningham is currently the NYSE’s chief operating officer and will take over from Thomas Farley who has served as president since May 2014.
“Since the moment I stepped onto the trading floor, the NYSE has always held a special place in my heart,” she wrote on Twitter. “I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to lead this organization.”
Here are six things to know about Cunningham and her career before and during her time on the NYSE’s trading floor.
1. It all started with a summer internship
Cunningham was studying industrial engineering at Lehigh University when she became a summer intern at the stock exchange in 1994.
2. From the trading floor to culinary school
About a decade into her career, Cunningham took time off to enroll in Manhattan’s Institute of Culinary Education where she also worked for six weeks in a restaurant kitchen.
3. She then returned to Wall Street with NASDAQ
After her time away from the trading world, Cunningham joined NASDAQ for three years before returning to the NYSE in 2012.
4. She was inspired by Muriel Siebert
Cunningham has pointed to Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the NYSE in 1967, as a strong inspiration for her own career.
“It took 175 years for the first woman to become a member of the New York Stock Exchange. Muriel Siebert didn’t have an easy path, but she was ambitious and it was fantastic. When she was faced with obstacles she put her head down, she was quoted as saying, ‘I put my head down and charge.’ That was her DNA, so she fought for it and, ultimately, she prevailed. It was Dec. 28, 1967, when the ratio of men to women members of the New York Stock Exchange became 1,365 to 1,” Cunningham said in a speech at the Tory Burch Embrace Ambition Summit in April.
“I started my career on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange almost 25 years ago and it never occurred to me for a moment that perhaps that wasn’t an opportunity available to me as a woman,” she continued. “I didn’t think about it and it’s in large part because Muriel had already done that work … I didn’t wonder whether or not I belonged. Muriel Siebert may or may not have been thinking about anyone else at the time, but anytime you embrace ambition and you redraw the boundaries, you’re not just redefining them for yourself, you’re defining them for anyone that follows, and I thank her for that.”
5. Two of the world’s largest stock exchanges will now be run by women
As Cunningham steps into her new role on Friday, she will be joining Adena Friedman who is currently the president and CEO of NASDAQ. Together, they will be overseeing two of the largest stock exchanges in the world in terms of market capitalization.
6. She’s a “Fearless Girl” fan
At the Tory Burch Embrace Ambition Summit, Cunningham spoke about the importance of diversity on corporate boards and encouraged women and men to fight for progress.
“‘Fearless Girl’ carries a message of the importance of diversity on corporate boards and in senior leadership roles. But she says so much more than that,” she said. “While she’s currently staring down that [‘Charging Bull’], ‘Fearless Girl’ and ‘Charging Bull’ are kindred spirits. They are both symbols of strength and of fearless resilience. They are messages to each and every one of us, men and women, to dig down deep inside to that place where you’re not scared. Where you don’t care about what anyone else has to say, so you can find that spirit to fight for progress … Progress is far too slow. We need to take action and move faster.”
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