President and CEO, Nasdaq Inc.
Adena Friedman, president and CEO of Nasdaq Inc., joined the company in 1993 as a newly minted MBA. She quickly climbed the corporate ladder and in seven years reached the position of executive vice president, then took on the role of chief financial officer. After leaving to serve as CFO of the investment firm The Carlyle Group, Ms. Friedman returned to Nasdaq three years later as its president and chief operating officer, followed by her appointment as CEO this year.
Ms. Friedman's career began with a great sponsor and manager, she said.
"My first job was as a business analyst, and I had the opportunity to work for a department head who gave me opportunities early to do new things. He was an awesome leader," she said.
Nasdaq's meritocratic culture has contributed to her success, she said.
"Performance leads to positive outcomes," Ms. Friedman said. "We look at goals — what [the employee] did, and performance reviews — how they did it. Office politics is not tolerated."
One of Nasdaq's biggest challenges is recruiting more women, she said, noting that the company has just hired its first diversity/inclusion officer.
"The pipeline is a big issue," Ms. Friedman said. "The industry is doing a good job bringing in entry level, but we're a tech company and we have a harder time finding diverse candidates."
— Deborah Nason