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The 2015 Trading Technology 40: Bina Kalola
#16 Bina Kalola, Head of Global Equities Strategic Direct Investments, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
For as long as she can remember, Bina Kalola has had an entrepreneurial streak. As head of global equities strategic direct investments for Bank of America Merrill Lynch since 2006, Kalola is a corporate venture capitalist, overseeing strategic financial technology investments. “The number of innovative platforms and new technology focused on fintech is at a peak,” says Kalola, 45, who wears a second hat as head of global e-trading market structure strategy for fixed income, currencies and commodities. As part of her mission of identifying opportunities for augmenting BAML’s technology, Kalola sits on the boards of BATS Global Markets, Chi-X Global Holdings and REDI Holdings and is a board observer of data analytics company Context Relevant and messaging platform developer Symphony Communication Services. She extols the advantages of “partnering up through collective mind share, both external — on the Street — and internal.” Working collaboratively and with a portfolio of investments can contribute to the success of strategic holdings: “Sometimes clients want aggregation — to use one or two multibroker-dealer portals, not ten individual portals,” Kalola notes. The tech bug bit the 1991 Barnard College graduate (BA in global economics) when, as a junior analyst at Salomon Brothers, she wrote her first macro in Excel to automate work flow. With a JD from Georgetown University, Kalola did a stint in corporate law, then co-founded a dot-com start-up before landing at Merrill Lynch & Co. in 2001 as an assistant general counsel responsible for M&A and structuring joint ventures.