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NYSE Chief Operating Officer Stacey Cunningham, who will be the New York Stock Exchange's (NYSE) first female president, poses on the floor of the NYSE in New York
Image: NYSE Chief Operating Officer Stacey Cunningham, who will be the New York Stock Exchange's (NYSE) first female president, poses on the floor of the NYSE in New York. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

New York Stock Exchange Appoints First Female President: Stacey Cunningham

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Image: NYSE Chief Operating Officer Stacey Cunningham, who will be the New York Stock Exchange's (NYSE) first female president, poses on the floor of the NYSE in New York. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) has officially appointed its first female president. 

Stacey Cunningham was previously the NYSE Chief Operating Officer.

Replacing Thomas Farley

The previous president, Thomas Farley, had his last day in the position on Thursday.  Stacey Cunningham took over the role on Friday, immediately before the Memorial Day long weekend in the United States.

Farley will be moving on to a new position as the head of Far Point.  Far Point is a newly launched special-purpose acquisition company (SPAC).  It is backed by Third Point LLC, Daniel Loeb’s hedge firm fund.

Third Point has been involved in discussions with investment banks regarding the launch of a “blank check” company.  It would function to raise money in an IPO to seek acquisition.  Should the company be successful, it would be the first time an investment vehicle of this nature to be raised by an activist hedge fund like Third Point.

The Rise of Stacey Cunningham

Cunningham’s presidency is the first time a woman has held this position in the 226 year history of the NYSE.  The New York Stock Exchange is currently the largest stock exchange in the world.

She first joined the NYSE as its chief operating officer in June 2015.  Since then, she has been responsible for managing the company’s relationship management, cash equities markets, product management as well as NYSE governance services.

Cunningham (@stacey_cunning), 43, tweeted “Since the moment I stepped onto the trading floor, the @NYSE has always held a special place in my heart. I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to lead this organization,” upon assuming her role.

Making History

Cunningham first started working at the NYSE as an intern in 1994.  She was studying industrial engineering at Lehigh University at the time. At that time, the NYSE was still in the midst of a difficult adjustment with the presence of female employees.

Still, Cunningham reported loving the environment.  She was already a trading floor clerk by 1996.

“I was a woman trader on the floor, and I never thought about it — I never thought for a moment whether or not that could happen, and whether or not that was an opportunity available to me,” said Cunningham earlier in 2018.  “And it’s because Muriel [Siebert] paved the way. I think it’s just really important to recognize that any time a woman pushes the boundaries and redefines the boundaries, she’s redefining them for everyone else that follows her.”  In 1967, Siebert, the “First Woman of Finance,” became the first woman to own a seat on the NYSE.

Cunningham continued with the NYSE until 2005, when she left Wall Street to study at the Institute of Culinary Education. During that time, she also worked at the then-celebrated, now-closed restaurant, Ouest.

Returning to Finance

She returned to the finance world in 2007 when she started working for Nasdaq, where she stayed until 2012, when she returned to the NYSE.

“As our COO, Stacey Cunningham successfully managed our equities, equities derivatives and ETF businesses, distinguishing herself as a customer-focused leader who is respected across our industry,” said Jeff Sprecher, chairman and CEO of Intercontinental Exchange.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alvexo on the matter.