May 2016 | 

Custom Learning for Global Nasdaq Leaders: Essential Leadership

Essential Leadership: Custom Learning for Global Nasdaq Leaders

As Nasdaq continues its evolution from an exchange operator to a global leader in technology and information services to the capital markets, they sought professional development programs that would elevate their leaders’ strategic thinking and enhance their business acumen.

In planning a program for Nasdaq, it was critical to design one that would be flexible enough to accommodate the busy schedules of global employees, no matter the time zone and geography.

“Wharton put together a customized certification program that would allow participants to take the courses whenever it worked for them,” says Sandra Hughes, AVP - Global Talent Management for Nasdaq. “Our culture is highly driven so we needed something that would allow people to learn but do it in a shorter amount of time than a full-blown MBA program.”

Nasdaq Essentials of Management Certification Program kicked off in September 2015 as an online global certification. The first cohort includes 55 Nasdaq leaders from 10 countries who are halfway through the six learning modules — two each on strategy, customer centricity and financial accounting.

Wharton faculty includes Nicolaj Siggelkow, the David M. Knott Professor and co-director of the Mack Institution for Innovation Management at Wharton, who is teaching the program’s strategy modules; Peter Fader, Frances and Pei-Yuan Chia Professor and co-director of the Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative, who is teaching the customer centricity modules; and Richard Lambert, Miller-Sherrerd Professor and Professor of Accounting, who is guiding students through the financial accounting modules.

“The participants right now are at a stage in their career where they are starting to think about more strategic issues,” says Prof. Siggelkow, who applauds the level of engagement he’s seeing from participants as they work in teams to apply the Wharton program highlights to real strategy issues in their lines of business.

Participants Share Learning Highlights

“The course is tailored to people like me who have busy jobs and are looking to learn online,” says Victoria Anderson, one of two London-based participants who serves as Vice President of Nasdaq Corporate Solutions. “This program has brought different benefits and allowed me to understand Nasdaq’s business beyond the business I work in.”

Chantal Wessels, a Nasdaq Senior Director of Financial Control in APAC based in Sydney, says that the program has already helped expand her knowledge base from both a customer and strategy perspective. She has been with Nasdaq for two years and currently oversees the finance team across Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Philippines and Japan. “Sometimes we are taught to think in a very straight line. This was an opportunity to step out of that little box and look at things from a more global perspective.”

Jeff Thomas, President of Liquidity Solutions for Nasdaq Private Market in San Francisco, joined Nasdaq two years ago, and is now helping to lead a start-up within Nasdaq to provide transaction and other services to private companies. Wharton’s tools for calculating customer lifetime value and churn have proven indispensable to him.

“This content was amazingly applicable. A case study I learned about in class I was able to apply the next day, when I found a discrepancy in our own business model,” he says, adding that the online format has helped him juggle demands of his day job with being a new dad. “Accessing the content when I have time has been great. I’ll be watching a lecture on my iPhone with ear plugs at 6 a.m. while holding my newborn daughter.”

Senior Associate General Counsel Magnus Lilliehöök, based in Stockholm, says the program allowed him to gain a more holistic view of the business, and look “at what we can do as a company to differentiate us from our competitors.” The program also has given him a new way to look at and measure customers. “Doing these kinds of analyses and using models taught by Wharton is quite stunning — I know a lot of people in the group will apply these models.”

During the certification program participants were asked to complete assignments either on their own or in teams of up to four. Mr. Lilliehöök’s team included a manager within software development and two managers from the equity derivatives and the commodities businesses. “We prefer to do things as a group — we put aside roughly four hours a week to discuss course content,” he says. His biggest challenge is to look at the business from a commercial perspective while minimizing its risk exposure.

“That’s my primary focus — understanding the commercial issues a business deals with but also to minimize the risk our business takes from both a regulatory and reputation perspective. That’s important — it will help me to become a better lawyer, offering more value to the business,” he adds.

Rebecca Arnold, Vice President of Global Talent Management, says that “Throughout Nasdaq’s history, we have always been at the forefront of creating industry leading products. We recognize that for us to sustain and excel, investing in our employees is essential to our success. Establishing leadership programs to provide our employees with skills that can be immediately leveraged to benefit their role and provide increased capabilities was essential to the success of our partnership with Wharton.” She adds that “It was critical to have our leaders evolve their thinking beyond simply being strategic in an effort to drive growth for the business. Partnering with Wharton was a great opportunity for us to create a customized program for Nasdaq and the employees to drive results, enhance business strengths and drive performance to even higher levels.”

Looking ahead, Ms. Hughes says Nasdaq plans to offer the Wharton certification course annually. Other managers are already waiting for the next cohort, she notes. The online format has attracted the interest of senior leaders, who may have been reluctant before to consider taking an online class. “This experience has piqued their interest and the feedback has been quite positive.”