Tuesday marked the first session of our MarketsWiki Education World of Opportunity series in Chicago. The event drew a standing room only crowd of 160 at the CME Group auditorium.

The event kicked off with Rob D’Arco, CEO of Rival Systems, who hammered home the intrinsic advantage the interns have over current industry professionals, as every intern in the room is considered a digital native. Taking advantage of that intrinsic knowledge and then pairing it with a deep understanding of market structure is essential for this coming generation. He encouraged everyone to look for the chance to make something their own — much like how he spun Rival out of Ronin Capital. For D’Arco, the ability to monetize that project or opportunity will be the arbiter of an individual’s success.

Rob D’Arco, Rival Systems CEO

But getting to the point in one’s career when the path becomes clear is not without setbacks.  Lisa Dunsky, the OCC’s senior compliance officer, started her talk with a quote from Steve Jobs: “Sometimes, life is gonna hit you in the head with a brick.” Dunsky has seen her fair share of bricks — the most jarring of which was when her mentor was charged with securities fraud in the midst of the Refco scandal. The key differentiator between talented people with great careers and talented people with average careers is the ability to embrace those challenges and treat them as teachable moments. Dunsky had to take time to shed tears, eat a whole package of Double Stuf Oreos and read a few Harry Potter books, but in the end came out stronger. “It’s not easy, but it’s worth it,” Dunsky said.

Lisa Dunsky – “Hit by a Brick”

While picking yourself up is key, so is giving back. The Greater Chicago Food Depository has had ties to the futures industry ever since the Futures Industry Association made it the recipient of the money donated to attend their yearly gala, in 2009. Speaker Kate Maehr, CEO of the Greater Chicago Food Depository, said, “We are in an epidemic of need.”  

“Whether it is food pantries, a shortage of beds in homeless shelters, high crime statistics, or unemployment, there is need all around us,” she said.

She told the story of her earliest days working at the Food Depository when a gentleman who helped out there every month took her under his wing. She asked him why he came there to volunteer every month, and he said, “What I do for a living is imaginary. But when I come here and put those cans of food in a box and work up a sweat, when I go home I feel real.”

Kate Maehr, GCFD CEO, on volunteerism

The man turned out to be Bob Forney, CEO of the Chicago Stock Exchange, who became an inspiration to Maehr.

Three good reasons to volunteer, she said, are 1. It’s good for both your body and mind; 2. It’s good for your career – volunteers are more likely to be recruited and promoted; and 3. It’s good for the community.

Another Chicago institution is the Chicago Board of Trade Building, now owned and managed by Glenstar Properties, which bought it from the CME Group after they bought the CBOT. Christian Domin, the managing director of Glenstar, said that for young firms starting out, it is important to have an office space; the everyone-work-from-home model doesn’t work out well in real life.  Firms need an energized work space where everyone can focus and be “game on,” he said.

It’s best to have an office space in a big, global city – Chicago, say, and not Newport Beach. “That’s where you go for the sunset of your career,” he said. “You need a city with the infrastructure and resources, and with a trading history and trading culture.”

Ideally, your target rent should be about 5% of your gross income, and you shouldn’t let a potential landlord talk you into a long-term lease. Ideally, you should get a sublease to minimize risk. Also, you should hire a young, motivated tenant broker who will work with your small short term deal and grow with you. And always be mobile. Today’s cloud technology is a key element allowing firms to move more seamlessly.  

Christian Domin – Managing Real Estate Risk

“Not long ago trading firms had to have their own data rooms to handle electronic trading. That is now all migrated to the cloud,” Domin said.

A thank you is in order to our global premier sponsor, CME Group, for hosting yesterday and Thursday’s session of our Chicago event. The next event is on Thursday, July 14 at 3 p.m. at the CME Group auditorium. The events are sold out for Thursday and Friday. Next Tuesday, July 19, we will be in New York and there is still room for interns to attend. 

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