Nasdaq President & CEO: Rethink Nasdaq - We are a Global Technology Company
Nasdaq President & CEO Adena Friedman talks candidly with Envestnet Head of Asset Manager Distribution about the future of financial advising, adding value for clients, work/life balance, and why Nasdaq isn’t just an exchange but a global technology company.
Estee Jimerson: Hello again. I hope everyone's having a great morning. In just a few minutes, I am going to ask Adena Friedman to join me here on stage for a fireside chat. Adena is the president and CEO of Nasdaq, and was the first woman ever to lead a major US exchange. She's a dynamic leader who's been focused on diversifying Nasdaq into a technology and data company, with an emphasis on growth opportunities. I'm not going to go through her entire bio, which is really, really impressive. We're going to save that for the fireside chat. But I thought that given where she's leading Nasdaq, and given where our industry is going, she'd be the perfect person to come out and opine on all things financial services. So with that said, I'd like to ask Adena to join me. Adena.
Adena Friedman: Thanks, Estee, it's nice to be here.
Estee Jimerson: Thank you. Well, we're glad you came, Adena. We're so pleased to have you here. We're going to talk about a pretty wide variety of topics here. But we're going to start with way back when, in 1993, when you started at Nasdaq. So that was right at the start of the internet era. Right?
Adena Friedman: It was, yes.
Estee Jimerson: Retail brokerages were coming around, democratizing investments, right, paving the way for millions of people to access the capital markets. So since then, technology has just advanced light years, and continues to do so. So I'm curious as to what technologies you're focused on, and are most excited about for the future.
Adena Friedman: Sure. Well, you're absolutely right. Coming into Nasdaq in 1993 really was, in a way, a seminal moment for the industry, because the internet was the latest thing. And everyone was wondering whether it really was going to become the rails for commercial business. And it obviously was a huge game changer for every industry, including ours.
Adena Friedman: Nasdaq was the first electronic exchange, so the whole point of Nasdaq was, you shouldn't have to be in New York, you shouldn't have to have a physical floor. You should have the ability to trade no matter where you are, and you should have access to the capital markets everywhere. And that was the whole point of Nasdaq, was the vision. So the internet really super-powered that, and allowed for that democratization of trading, of investing, of the capital markets.
Adena Friedman: When we look at technology today, I think that the internet has really carried us to where we are right now. But what I think is going to carry us forward as an industry are two things. One is bringing all of our infrastructure into the cloud. And that's really the financial infrastructure. So whether it's the markets, whether it's the connectivity to the markets, whether it's all of the work that the banks and the brokerage firms do to manage their infrastructure and their connectivity, and their networking. Both to their investors as well as to markets around the world, our view is that the cloud is the next wave of how to make it so that you're more efficient, scalable and global.
Adena Friedman: And then the other major technology that I think everyone's talking about now, of course, is machine intelligence. And machine intelligence, I think, has the chance to change every element of how we do work, how we provide services to our investors, how we provide intelligence to inform our investment decisions to manage our businesses, and to make sure that the markets stay safe. So those are the areas that we're most focused on, in terms of advancing our own technology to serve the capital markets.
Estee Jimerson: Interesting. So just a funny side note. Envestnet has always been in the cloud. And Jud [Bergman] and Bill [Crager] have a funny story about selling Envestnet back in the day, as being in the cloud, and people not even realizing what that was back in the day.
Adena Friedman: Exactly. Long ago, I managed the data business, and I remember in 2006, we decided to put one of our data products into the Amazon cloud. And I remember this guy coming into my office saying, "There's this thing where they're giving you access to all of their infrastructure, and all you do is put your data in there. And then they allow your clients to leverage the data. And all you're doing is paying for use."
Adena Friedman: So we put all of our trade data into this cloud-based service in the Amazon cloud, and as we were launching the service, and it was just getting going. And it was $15. I said, "This is awesome!" If we can manage our infrastructure like this, this is great. Obviously it's advanced a lot more, and there's more complexity to it today. But it really was this great invention that people were just trying to understand how to use it. So we were, right around 2005-6, we were trying to figure out how to use it.
Estee Jimerson: Okay. So we talk about data a lot. Data is very meaningful for us at Envestnet, for Nasdaq as well. And a lot of us believe that big data, advanced analytics, and AI are really disrupting financial services right now, and will continue to do so in the future. Curious about how you see that playing out over the next three to five years.
Adena Friedman: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think that it's a great question, in terms of three, five, 10 years, all right? So how may it change over that period of time? Everyone's now trying to make sure they understand what machine intelligence is. How does it work? Making sure that they are leveraging it appropriately within their businesses. Today machine intelligence is really machine learning. So it's obviously advanced analytics, advanced algorithms, but then allowing those algorithms to learn, and allowing them to shape themselves, and continue to get smarter in terms of using data to essentially get to a result either faster, more efficiently, or in a smarter way in a better result.
Adena Friedman: I think people are really now getting their heads around what that means in terms of how to apply that throughout the industry. And I've noticed that financial services in general has been a leader across every industry, when it comes to the use of data. There are few industries where data has led the industry. And I would say financial services data has led the financial services industry. So this is going to be a major, major shift. And I think it's at the very beginning of time.
Adena Friedman: So when we look at machine intelligence, we say we pocket it in three areas. The first is defense. And Nasdaq, obviously, we have to make sure that our markets stay safe, they stay fair, that participation is fair, that they're following the rules. And that's becoming more and more complex as you get more complex players, using more complex algorithms. We've built a very advanced technology called SMARTS, and we not only provide it to our own exchange, but we've now provided it to 50 other exchanges, 12 regulators, and 150 broker-dealers.
Adena Friedman: Now we've gone into the buy side with the same technology. Because everyone's realizing that there is a lot of complexity to how behavior works. But if we all are using a common technology to look at behaviors, and we're getting smarter and smarter, and we have more data to be able to use, to be able to find nefarious behavior, if we can use machine intelligence on top of that, we're going to be just that much better as an industry, be able to root out bad behavior. So that's the first area.
Estee Jimerson: And you're using that right now.
Adena Friedman: Right now. And we have machine learning algorithms that we've built that are now in use within the SMARTS application, specifically to eliminate some of the false positives, to basically make the algorithm smarter... And then over time to build out new algorithms that allow us to find behaviors that we may not be even able to see today.
Adena Friedman: The second area is in efficiency. So, you're taking technology and applying it to call centers. You're taking technology and applying it to large portions of an organization. AML, KYC, all those things that are just massive processes. And that's a big push right now, in terms of using machine learning, and also voice recognition and other things to make that smarter.
Adena Friedman: And then the third is, of course, offense. And that's what's, I think, going to be the biggest game changer if you look at the next 10 years. How are people going to use machine intelligence to make smarter investment decisions, to be able to process a lot more data into their investment decisions? To be able to identify new opportunities out there, in an increasing complex and global environment, where they may be able to find alpha in ways that have not been found before. A big part of that is the use of alternative data coupled with advanced algorithms and machine learning. And so I think that's where you're going to see over the next 10 years, the biggest shift in the way that investing gets done.
Estee Jimerson: That's interesting. Okay. So shifting gears a little bit, away from data and into more holistic financial wellness. Financial wellness is a huge focus at Envestnet. It's the theme of this event. And we're focused on helping advisors help their clients achieve financial wellness. So I'm interested in what you think the tactical actions are that we as an industry can take to help advisors deliver holistic services and advice that extend beyond investing to planning, budgeting and lending.
Adena Friedman: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think that when you think about the entire wealth management industry, and then the financial advisors and their roles in the industry, I actually think that the role of the financial advisor is expanding in a major way. Because yes, young people like to use technology to go and try to do an optimized S&P 500 portfolio using a robo advisor, or something that's automated. But they will ultimately have major life decisions that they have to make. And I think the great financial planners, and certainly the ones that I work with, are the ones who help me through my life, to kind of help us really plan out how you're going to get to the next step and the next step.
Adena Friedman: And you're seeing more of that, but I do believe that those that are really going from tactical to strategic, and then back to tactical. And that requires a lot. That requires efficiency in technology scalability. But it also requires a different relationship with those clients. So yes, you need to use technologies to find those tactical strategies that can serve their immediate needs, in terms of what you've decided to put their money into right now.
Adena Friedman: And I do believe, obviously, Envestnet has a lot of tools and technologies that allow you to do that. We actually have some investing strategies. So one less known part of our business is that we have actually $200 billion of index assets under management at Nasdaq. And 55% of those are benchmark indexes, like the Nasdaq-100, Nasdaq biotech, and 45% are smart-beta indexes, like Dorsey Wright and the factor indexes that we have. So those types of strategies can be really good ways to tactically leg your clients into strategy... into their here and now investment strategies.
Adena Friedman: And you don't necessarily need to be that stock picker, as much as you need to know how to asset allocate appropriately for their moment in life. But that moment changes. So being really proactive and helping them evolve their investment strategies over time, and using more tools and technologies. And then, frankly, if you do that, and you're that great advisor, your business is more persistent, in my opinion. It's less reliant on that one person who's stock picking, and more reliant on a lifetime of advice that can be handed to someone else to provide. And I do think that makes your businesses more persistent, too.
Estee Jimerson: That's right. So rather than the advisor being the chief cook and bottle washer, so to speak, right? Doing everything from security selection to asset allocation, he or she can unload those activities to someone like Nasdaq, or the many different strategies we have, or strategists we have on our platform, and concentrate on that holistic advice.
Adena Friedman: Yes, and it's interesting, because I was actually just talking to someone out here today. And they were saying that there are kind of three ways that they manage their clients' money. They might have some really just pure indexing. They might have some really specific strategies that they use. And then they might do some stock picking. But all three of those things together comprise how to meet the tactical needs of their clients right now. It's just how you make sure that you're always being proactive in shifting that, and shifting the orientation of that as people go through life and have different life events, and different needs. That's when you become super valuable to that customer. And they never leave at that point.
Estee Jimerson: That's right. That's when that customer can, as Bill [Crager] said earlier, can say, "What do I do? What should I do?" And that's when you become really empowered to help them. So sticking with financial advisors, because that's really most of whom are in the audience today. What do you think that advisors should be thinking about as they try and set themselves apart from their competition, as they try and set up their practices for the long term?
Adena Friedman: What I've heard, and I've heard this at a lot of different conferences, is that succession planning is kind of the number one thing that everyone's really focused on, because they do want to create a sustainable and persistent business beyond the individual. And it is true. You get a trusted relationship with your clients. And those clients, especially if you really help them through major life events, and you help them. And then the best thing you can do is then get involved with their kids.
Adena Friedman: But then, making sure that they see you as someone who isn't, as I said, the only brain in the operation, but is using a lot of tools and strategies, making sure that you're looking at asset allocation over the long term, bringing more people into the meetings, so that it's not just you, so that you can then create a practice that is persistent over generations. The number of investible assets is going from somewhere probably around $75 trillion to $100 trillion over the next five to seven years. It's still a very growing pile of opportunity out there. And as money starts getting passed down to the millennial audience, in the short-run, they might think technology is all they need.
Estee Jimerson: So let's get back to the capital markets then. Curious as to your thoughts on what some of the most pressing problems are in capital markets.
Adena Friedman: I think that the most pressing problem that we face in today, in the US capital markets, and actually everywhere, is getting more companies to go public. And what we say is that, yes, we're having a good period of time right now. On Nasdaq, we had 186 IPOs last year. And we had about 225 in the whole country. And then this year, we're off to a similar start, in terms of the number. We've had 50 IPOs so far this year, even with the government shutdown. So it's a very robust time. But when you look back, and don't look back at the late '90s, but you look back at the '80s and early '90s, there were about 500 companies that went public in a given year. And companies are waiting much longer in their lifecycle to tap the public markets.
Adena Friedman: And that creates two issues. One, it's just that one is a wealth disparity issue. Meaning a lot of the financial advisors here don't get access to those growth companies to be able to leg them into their strategies earlier in their lifecycle. They don't get access to the growth. And that means your investors don't get access to that growth either. So the average investor in the country is not benefiting from the growth of these great technology companies, or companies across a lot of industries.
Adena Friedman: That, over time, will create more and more of a wealth disparity issue in this country. Because clearly, there's a certain group of investors, or more higher net worth investors, who get access to those companies much earlier in their lifecycle. So wealth disparity is one. I think, also, just in general, and just be very blunt about it, we need inventory. If you are going to have robust capital markets, you're going to be able to identify strategies, be able to execute on those strategies, allow for there to be a whole plethora of different ways to make investment decisions, you need inventory. And if the inventory's shrinking, then you have fewer and fewer ways to differentiate yourself as an investment professional.
Adena Friedman: So I think that if you look there's, I'd say about half the number of public companies today than there were 20 years ago, or 15 years ago actually. I think that we are very, very focused on that. And it's not a technology issue. Technology doesn't solve this issue. I think that there's a whole range of things that we're trying to undertake down at the government level. And you are seeing that the SEC is extremely receptive to this message, and they've been making some changes just to make it a little bit easier to go public, allow for a little bit more flexibility for companies that are thinking of tapping the public market in terms of confidential filings and testing the waters.
Adena Friedman: Proxy advisory reform is critical, because once you are public, companies really feel trapped by a flawed system, in terms of the proxy advisors, and the roles they play in shaping governance decisions. And then on top of that, you've got a whole orientation around short-termism, versus long-termism. That's the hardest nut to crack, right? So we can make sure we work as hard as we can to have the government really focused on what they can achieve, but there's a whole other part of that. And that is allowing these companies to manage their lives over the long term and make the right long-term decisions for their businesses, and not to get unduly punished when they miss a quarter.
Adena Friedman: At the same time, I've also heard it from the sector of the investment professionals, who are saying, "Yeah, but we get inflows and outflows based on our quarter." So that's by far the most challenging thing to try to figure out how to overcome, to make the right environment for companies to go public.
Estee Jimerson: How active is Nasdaq in doing that?
Adena Friedman: Well, I think the first thing is, we've been involved with a couple of organizations that are really focused on this. And one of them is basically, it's called FCLT. And they're very focused on bringing large companies, large investors, and then firms like ours, into the mix to have an open dialogue on how do we create more long-term orientation. It's a little bit of just making sure we're actually talking about it in the right fora. And then Nasdaq obviously can play a role in helping to shape some of the rules, in basically using technology in some ways, to try to shape behaviors. But it's a really hard and is a very systemic issue that is very hard to change.
Estee Jimerson: I want to talk about you a little bit, personally. So what a lot of you might not realize is that Adena started at Nasdaq as an intern, and now you're obviously the president and CEO. So that must have been quite a journey. You must have a lot of stories about that journey. I'm curious as to, you know, what really defined that journey for you, and did you know you wanted to be the CEO back when you started? How did that journey take place?
Adena Friedman: No, I didn't know that at the time. So I went into Nasdaq as an intern coming out of business school, and luckily was able to parlay that into a full-time job, because -
Estee Jimerson: You were just happy with that.
Adena Friedman: Yes. Really happy. And I walked into the trading organization. And the cool part of Nasdaq was the listing organization, right? So oh, you get to work with Apple, and Microsoft, and all these really cool companies. And I walked into the trading organization, which was a different part of the business. But what I really wanted to do was be a product manager in financial services, which is kind of a strange combination. And very specific. But Nasdaq at the time was a product company. They just kind of didn't realize it. They had a lot of technology products that were serving specific needs of the traders. So I went in and wrote product plans to help them recognize that number one, they have products. They each have P&Ls, they should have business plans, and they should have pricing plans. They should be thinking about how to enhance their features and functions to try to optimize the P&L of that product. So I really helped them almost create a product strategy very low down on the totem pole of writing these business plans for these kind of ancillary trading products.
Adena Friedman: They then allowed me to manage some of those products. So I graduated into becoming a product manager a few years in. And that's when I think I really found, this is what I should be doing in life. So you become kind of the mini CEO of your product. You're in charge of all the pricing decisions, product enhancements, your distribution promotion. And it's really a fun role to have. You have a lot of control when the company gives you the autonomy to run it that way, which they did.
Adena Friedman: On the back of being able to make some real changes in some of our products, I then was asked to run the data products division, which was a new division that they created. That's really when I was able to propel my career. So it was a really fun place to be, because they were reshaping who they were, going from being owned by a quasi-governmental organization called NASD, being carved out becoming a for-profit organization in their own right. And it really was just a perfect time to be there.
Estee Jimerson: Do you remember when you first saw the CEO's seat as a real possibility, and you really set your sights on that?
Adena Friedman: I would say, very early, kind of about five years in, as I started to become a product manager, I started looking at the COO seat, and saying, "That's a pretty cool job." So you have basically internal control over the organization, and how it's shaping, big product decisions, but you're not out there. I thought the COO job looked a little more interesting, a little more hands-on. But I did think that. And then I did actually talk to the COO and said, okay, well, two jobs were available to me.
Estee Jimerson: Within Nasdaq.
Adena Friedman: Within Nasdaq, early on. And I went to him and said, "How would you recommend the path?" And one was a marketing job, one was a product job. And he said, "Well, if you ultimately want my job, then the product job's the right way to go, because you become the COO of your own product." And he was so right. Having that P&L responsibility very early in my career, the pressure of it, the fun of it, the client interaction, it really did set me up to be able to look up the chain the right way. But I had the fortune of the company being small enough, for me to be able to go in and ask him that question.
But I had set my goal on that. So therefore, it helped inform who should I go talk to about what I want to do next? When I give advice to younger people, I do say, set goals. Look around. Say, “Where do you want to be in five or 10 years?” It may change. But at least start there, so that you start to see, okay, how do I navigate my career. Could be over here for a minute. I could actually want to take a lateral, because it sets me up better for that job.
Estee Jimerson: Okay. So you went up the ladder pretty directly.
Adena Friedman: Well, I actually didn't. There was no direct path up the ladder at Nasdaq. But this particular thing was, both of the jobs were a promotion opportunity.
Estee Jimerson: You did, though, take a brief stint outside of Nasdaq.
Adena Friedman: I did.
Estee Jimerson: At the Carlisle Group.
Adena Friedman: Yes.
Estee Jimerson: Tell us a little about that.
Adena Friedman: Yeah, so I was the CFO of Nasdaq at the time, and Carlisle, actually a head hunter cold called me, around the Carlisle opportunity. And a couple things. First, my dad spent his whole career at T. Rowe Price, and my brother has spent his whole career running a hedge fund. So the buy side, the investment management side of the business has always fascinated me. And if I were to pick any of the investment management firms to go and work for as the CFO, Carlisle would definitely be extremely high on the list.
Adena Friedman: And then Carlisle was looking for a CFO to help them go public, which was just an enormous opportunity. It really was. I'd seen hundreds and hundreds, thousands of companies go public on Nasdaq, but to have that opportunity to help shape that, and to help -
Estee Jimerson: To see it from the inside?
Adena Friedman: Right. And to really help them on that journey was such a great opportunity that I decided to leave. It was a great job, and it was a great opportunity. And Carlisle is an amazing firm. I think what I missed, though, is the product. I really like being in a product company. I love technology, I love the role that Nasdaq has, sitting at the center of the capital markets, and how we can use our relationships across all parts of the industry with our products, to help advance the capital markets. I have to say, I missed the mission of Nasdaq. So when they did call to ask if I'd come back as president, it was the right decision.
Estee Jimerson: So then you came back, became the president and CEO. What is the most fun aspect of your role as CEO?
Adena Friedman: Well actually, the thing that I have most fun with is when every six months, we have this thing called an investment committee in Nasdaq, where we go in, and we review. We either approve new initiatives, or we review the initiatives that we've already approved, to help grow the company. So we have a venture fund as part of this, it's called Nasdaq Next. So it's kind of taking Nasdaq to the next level.
Adena Friedman: We have a venture fund that does small investments in Fin Tech companies around the world. And then we have our own homegrown, organic initiative to help drive and advance our businesses in new ways, in new business opportunities. And every six months we get together and we do a detailed review of the portfolio of opportunities, organic and venture. And definitely the best two days of my six months.
Estee Jimerson: You get pitched, essentially.
Adena Friedman: I do. You get pitched, but you also get to look and talk through helping them shape their decisions, and understand, and watching these small opportunities grow and become big opportunities. And then some of them stumble, some of them are just huge home runs. But it's really a fun process, because it's all about the future. We always have a technology nexus to it. So it's always about using technology to change the industry, or change whatever it is. It can be to take, for instance, our SMARTS surveillance system into the buy side, to launch Nasdaq Private Market, which facilitates liquidity for private companies and private investment vehicles. It's really all these new things that we're doing. So that's definitely the most fun part of the job.
Adena Friedman: The second part that I love the most is meeting clients. All the clients. So whether it is issuers, where I can dive into their businesses and learn about them, other exchanges, where we provide the technology that powers actually 110 other exchanges around the world, so I can get and understand their challenges in different parts of the world. Buy side investment management firms, that's an industry that's going through a significant change, and so learning more about their challenges is fascinating. And then, of course, the broker-dealers, they are our constant. They've always been our constant. And understanding their challenges, and how we can use technology to help them has been a really fun evolution of our business.
Estee Jimerson: And like Envestnet, you really sit in the center of the industry, and that's a fascinating place from which to look out onto the industry, and see what's happening.
Adena Friedman: It really is. I really want to be a partner. I want everyone to see us as a strategic partner to their success in the capital markets. We are specific. We don't do everything. We don't do banking systems. But from the capital markets perspective, whether it's an issue or coming in, we really want them to understand who's buying and selling their company. How are they advancing their relationships with their investors? Are they targeting the right investors? Are they looking at ESG the right way? That's a whole additional service that we offer to about 2,000 companies around the world, in addition to the listing, right? So we do, we try to make sure we become a strategic partner to everyone.
Estee Jimerson: Adena, you said you had two kids. How old are they?
Adena Friedman: 23 and 21.
Estee Jimerson: I have a 21-year-old and an 18-year-old. So while you were climbing the ranks at Nasdaq, you were raising two kids.
Adena Friedman: Indeed.
Estee Jimerson: As I have been as well. We have a fair amount of working moms in the audience today, and I'm always asked this question, and I'm sure you are as well. How do you do it? So I'm going to ask you. How do you do it? How did you do it?
Adena Friedman: I've been fortunate that I always have had kids and worked. Frankly, I had my first son at 26, and I started working at Nasdaq at 24. So pretty early on, I had a family. And Nasdaq was amazing. This is something to really think about for your own organizations, is for the first four years of my kids' lives, I worked part-time. And yet I was promoted twice during that time.
Estee Jimerson: Wow.
Adena Friedman: So I learned to be extremely efficient. And it was the dawn of the Blackberry. I was a machine. When I walked into the office at 7:30 in the morning, I was there from 7:30 to 5:00. I walked out of that office at 5:00.
Estee Jimerson: How many days a week were you working?
Adena Friedman: I worked three days a week for three years, and four days a week for a year, and then went back full-time.
Estee Jimerson: Okay.
Adena Friedman: But I had the Blackberry. So all I can say is, I think mobile technology has totally transformed the ability for working moms to be successful. On the one hand, you're never off.
Estee Jimerson: It's a blessing and a curse.
Adena Friedman: But I actually, I would say, 85% blessing, 15% curse in my mind.
Estee Jimerson: Okay.
Adena Friedman: I think that it allowed me also, as they got older, to go to their sporting events. I would sit on the sidelines and be on conference calls. Or even on a Saturday, actually I have this one story that another person likes to tell. We were working on a deal. For a while, I was the head of corporate strategies, so I did a lot of M&A, a lot of the mergers and acquisitions we did. So we were working on a deal, and it was a Saturday, I was at the baseball field.
And I'm on this conference call with like 20 other people. All the lawyers, and all the people. We were working through the contract. So I didn't have to sit there and listen totally intently, I just had to make sure that things were moving forward, and I was answering questions when necessary. But it was a big group. Well I went off mute for a second by accident. And there was some kerfuffle with the umpire, and I was the scorekeeper, so I was like, "No! That was a strike! That was a strike!" The whole phone call, everyone on the phone just started laughing.
Estee Jimerson: That is funny.
Adena Friedman: The great thing is that everyone at Nasdaq, and everyone I've ever worked with has always understood that that's part of who I am. And it's never been an issue. I mean, obviously that balance is super hard. But the attitude of the company has been amazing.
Estee Jimerson: That makes all the difference.
Adena Friedman: Really, really. It makes a huge difference. And then, of course, that balance. So let's talk about that for a second. I have a wonderful, wonderful husband. And it's been a partnership. So when our kids were born, he said, "We're not going to hire a nanny." Because he had a lot of nannies growing up. And I said, "Fine. But that means you're a partner. You don't want to have a nanny, that's great. But that means we're equal. This is an equal partnership." So he would drop off the kids every day, and I would pick them up every day. I worked part-time for about four years. He worked part-time for actually 10 years. And he job-shared as a lawyer, and he did it very successfully. It's always been a partnership. And I think that's a really critical thing. That's the conversation to have with your husband, or spouse, either way, along the way.
Estee Jimerson: That's right. There's plenty of men that want to attend their kids' games, or leave work early, and want to be involved, engaged parents. It's a parenting issue.
Adena Friedman: I think that it's a challenge for every person who works. It shouldn't be considered a working mom, it's a working parent issue. And working together to figure out how to create the right partnership, and to use your community. Use friends and family to help you along the way. That's a really big part of making it work.
Estee Jimerson: Agreed, agreed. We did the same thing. I picked up, he dropped off. It's the only way it could work.
Adena Friedman: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Estee Jimerson: So you touched on this a little bit, culture, right? The company has to allow for that. And let's be frank. Some don't.
Adena Friedman: Right.
Estee Jimerson: What do you see as Nasdaq's corporate culture? Clearly it's a good one. But how would you describe it?
Adena Friedman: I also would say, not every job lends itself to part-time work. And I do think that's something everyone just needs to accept and acknowledge. And if it's someone who's coming and asking for that, well then you say, "Well gosh, this particular role doesn't really lend itself to that." Or maybe you think strategically around how do I do it as a job-share? Come with a solution if you want to start to think about an alternative work schedule. Come with a solution and make it so that the company realizes it could work. But when it can't, that's when it's the responsibility of the manager to say, "Okay, let's sit down and figure out what would work." So let's work our way through this situation, as opposed to just saying no, this job isn't a part-time job. That's my one thought of that.
Adena Friedman: Holistically, Nasdaq is a technology company. And we are a global technology company. So we have operations in 30 countries today. Our second-largest presence, actually our largest presence now, because we just recently bought a company, is in Stockholm, Sweden. The technology business that we run where we provide market technology around the world is headquartered in Sweden. We also own and operate most of the exchanges in the Nordic countries. So we have a big role in the Nordics. So in addition to the US, the Nordics, then Australia, India, and the Philippines are big centers for us in terms of technology centers, data analytic centers, as well as service centers.
Adena Friedman: So we're a big scale business. And that creates a challenge, right? So you're trying to make sure that you have a consistent culture across the world. So we make sure we have brand and culture ambassadors in all of our locations. We also use a lot of technology to communicate, in terms of global town halls, but also monthly updates. We use a lot of technology to communicate. We are a mission-driven company. So we are very, very clear as to what our mission is, in driving economic growth through the capital markets. So that really helps, I think, create a common goal, and a common language that we all talk.
Adena Friedman: But the culture itself is collaborative. But we call it collaborative command. Because there are moments, because of what we do, where we need to have a really clear command in terms of making sure that the markets are operating correctly, that we're making sure that obviously all of the oversight of the markets is clear. And so there is this collaborative-command concept, which is all the ideas are brought to the table, but once we make a decision, it's a very clear one. And we're going to move, and we're going to move fast. So that's how we operate.
Estee Jimerson: How would you describe your role as really setting that culture, setting the tone for the company?
Adena Friedman: It's a constant thing. Every time you walk down the hall, you are setting a cultural example. Every time. Every time you talk to an employee, you're setting a cultural example. And the thing is, you feel like you want to be able to talk to every employee. You want them to see your passion. And unfortunately, with a global enterprise, you can't always physically allow everyone to see that passion, other than through video.
Adena Friedman: But getting out, making sure whenever I go to another city, if we have an office, I obviously visit the office, no matter where it is in the world. We try really hard to make sure people feel integrated. But it is definitely one of the bigger challenges, is making sure that that culture is integrated everywhere. But I feel like from the minute I get up, until the minute I go to bed, I'm here to make sure that people understand how I exemplify the culture.
Estee Jimerson: Because they're watching you, and they're basing their actions on your actions. You brought this up earlier, but how do you maintain that, across different countries?
Adena Friedman: The local leadership is critical.
Estee Jimerson: Yeah.
Adena Friedman: So having really strong leaders in each of your significant locations is absolutely critical. And that's something that we've actually worked on, because you can tell, we do engagement scores, we do employee engagement surveys. We used to do it every year. We're now actually just launching, we just launched the first one, every quarter. So every three months, we're going to get a pulse on how the employees are feeling everywhere. And we can break it down by location, by function, by level, by department. So that we are always keeping a pulse on how our culture is integrated across the organization.
Estee Jimerson: Is there anything you're specifically looking to change, that you're focused on changing?
Adena Friedman: One of the big things is the sense of innovation. So Nasdaq has always had an innovative roots. We've always had, we were born out of innovation. But we're almost 50 years old now. So how do you maintain the spirit of innovation across the whole company, especially when you do very mission-critical things. And then you have to have a lot of process and discipline around any changes, or any implementations around these mission-critical things. So we call it the train, which is, you're driving that train down the track, and everyone understands very clear where it's going. Everyone understands it, they all understand their roles, and it's very clear. It can go a certain speed, right?
Adena Friedman: Nasdaq historically has been very good at running those trains, and being a market, and being the capital market, a big part of that is running those trains successfully. I don't like to use Amtrak as the example.
Estee Jimerson: Probably not a good idea.
Adena Friedman: You always have to be on time. We've been really developing a lot of our growth initiatives, and this whole Nasdaq Next thing, is really about being a ship, where you have to tack, you know ultimately where you want to try to get to, but you don't quite know how you're going to get there. And you have to make sure that you are using the wind as much as you can, those tailwinds to really drive your business. You have to face headwinds right on. So it's a totally different way of opportunity managing, business managing innovation. And we want to have both of those successfully integrated into Nasdaq. So we've been working on how to allow ourselves to operate in two speeds. We're continuing to work on how to make sure we're driving change there.
Estee Jimerson: Interesting. Well, that really concludes the time we have together. Adena, you truly are a dynamic leader. And I'm interested to see what you do with Nasdaq. And thank you for your time. Thank you, everyone, for your time today.
Adena Friedman: Thank you.