Exclusive: Steve Rubinow, CTO of the NYSE Group, talks growing data volumes, past and future mergers, and combining corporate cultures
By Financial Services Technologies
What are the major aspects of your role as CTO?
As CTO, I am responsible for every aspect of technology, from architecture through software development and operations
What have been your main challenges you have faced and what excites you most about the future?
The main challenges are:
• Always trying to produce the best possible product in a short time frame in a rapidly changing industry with finite resources.
• Finding high quality staff that are capable of performing at levels that make my previous point possible.
The future is exciting because of its fast pace and of the large effect we can have on the industry. We often refer to this as extreme sports – often exhausting but always exhilarating and satisfying.
With this in mind, what decisions did you have to take into account to achieve the goal of being the first fully open, fully electronic stock exchange?
Arca’s founder had a far reaching vision of what this could and should be and all the rest was ‘just’ execution. Every year there is a constant challenge to provide systems that are more reliable, faster and all at a lower cost. More than most systems builders, we have to be cognizant of the physics of the situation and the limitations that may impose. Everything else is up to us. We have progressed nicely along those attributes over the years because of the tremendous efforts of a lot of smart, hard working people.
And how are you dealing with the growing volumes of data and the need to see this data in near real time?
We deal with this much the same way as others; we plan, anticipate growth with adequate additional capacity, and build systems, both software and hardware, that are appropriate for the situation. The ‘big data’ situation is challenging for anyone in our industry or other industries that have similar needs.
What impact is this having on storage requirements and how have you dealt with this?
Storage requirements are growing faster than any other part of the computing enterprise, for internal needs, customer needs, and regulatory needs. One must also be concerned with the rate at which one can load and retrieve the data as well. The unit cost of storage keeps dropping but this is somewhat offset but the increased volumes of storage that are needed. Aside from our internal efforts to address this, we constantly challenge our vendors to aid us in providing technological advances at attractive price points.
With the major story of the merger of Archipelago and NY Stock exchange now complete, how smooth was the transition, is there any ‘fine tuning’ still left to do?
The transition so far has been relatively smooth because we were able to work with our new colleagues in planning many months before the deal closed and got to know each other this way. Also NYSE was not a stranger to Arca as we had been interacting in business together for years already. There is still work that remains to be done in terms of systems integration.
How then do you set about combining two such distinct corporate cultures? What problems have you faced and how were these overcome?
Top management decides what they think would be a winning combination of cultures. This is communicated down the line, both explicitly and in words and deeds. Repetition is required because it’s not easy to get any of this right with only one pass. In the end, we are all humans and we adjust to change at different rates. We recognize this and address it as appropriate.
With such a merger, how do you decide upon the facets of each organization that stay and those that go?
We need to strike the proper balance between being entrepreneurial and fast moving without sacrificing any of the solid attributes developed in the many decades that preceded the merger. I like to say that we should walk the territory that lies between being aggressive and reckless and we know when we get too close to the wrong side of that.
According to media reports, NYSE is looking to merge with Euronext. What challenges do you envisage this would bring?
Each merger presents its own set of challenges and opportunities. We have spent a bit of time already with the Euronext team and we mutually have some ideas of what the right path will be for the combined entities.
Rubinow joined the NYSE Group as Chief Technology Officer in March 2006 through the merger of the New York Stock Exchange and Archipelago Holdings. In his previous position at CTO of Archipelago Holdings, Rubinow oversaw technology infrastructure and strategy including software development, quality assurance, IT operations, customer connectivity and technical support. He also oversaw Archipelago Holdings internal use of Active Reasoning IT compliance automation software. Prior to Archipelago, Rubinow was most recently Senior Vice President and Chief Information/Technology Officer at NextCard, Inc., a leading internet provider of consumer credit. In this role he was responsible for all aspects of technology including software and database engineering, operations, architecture and quality assurance. Prior to joining NextCard, his past experiences included positions at AdKnowledge, Inc. where he was the Chief Information Officer and Fidelity Investments as Vice President, Corporate Management Information Systems. Steve earned the BS, MS and PhD degrees in Chemistry and an MBA at the University of Illinois as well as an MS in Computer Science at DePaul University.