Phupinder Gill
Chief Executive Officer
CME Group

Financial industry CEOs typically don’t throw their caution to the winds of technological change. They are content to wait and see, hedge their bets or adopt fast-follower strategies. Phupinder Gill plays it differently. “We have to be on the bleeding edge to understand emerging technologies,” says the CEO of CME Group, the $3.3 billion-in-revenue parent of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Chicago Board of Trade, New York Mercantile Exchange, Commodity Exchange and a leading central counterparty clearing operation. The 55-year-old, who has been CEO since 2012, is no wild-eyed radical. He says it’s a given that CME is leading-edge by virtue of Globex, the pioneering electronic trading platform that was launched in 1992 and handles 89 percent of average daily volume (which totaled 14.9 million contracts in May, up 6 percent year-over-year). He believes change is evolutionary rather than revolutionary but says that “evolution will be constant” and its cumulative effects make familiarity with the bleeding edge imperative. Gill and CME go there via formal vehicles — an innovation lab and a strategic investment fund, CME Ventures — as well as through awards and other programs that encourage rank-and-file engagement in innovation. Gill has visited London fintech incubation space Level39 as part of “trying to figure out what all this means.” And he meets regularly with Rumi Morales, executive director of CME Ventures, whose portfolio ranges from big data (Powerlytics) to cybersecurity (Fortscale and SparkCognition) to quantum computing (1QBit) and includes cryptocurrency and distributed ledger companies Digital Asset Holdings, Digital Currency Group and Ripple. “The technologies are evolving, and many things are connected,” says Gill, a Singapore native and Washington State University MBA, who was president of CME Group and its predecessor, CME Holdings, for eight years before becoming CEO. “We have several use cases of blockchain across the firm to help us understand if it actually makes life more efficient.”

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