Holiday–Thankfully–Cut Short

It’s been a long and winding road for Steve Hughes, but one that just might give hope to those pounding the pavement in search of a job in the trading world.

A former Nasdaq market maker for nearly half his career, Hughes has managed to recreate himself during his 28-year journey that includes a progression of jobs that have mirrored the evolution of electronic trading. 

From his role at Instinet working with market makers, to his move to ECN pioneer Strike Technologies, Hughes spent his last 10 years at NYSE Euronext in member-firm relations. Then one day the music stopped.

It’s not uncommon in this day and age to hear that a trading professional has lost his or her job. In some instances, the months of unemployment have turned into years. But that was not the case for Hughes. 

As NYSE Euronext became more of a place for high-frequency traders and less of one for crowds of floor brokers and block trades, Hughes became more of a liaison for the exchange’s new line of electronic trading services.

Little did Hughes know that his familiarity with the latest whistles and bells behind high-frequency trading would open doors for his next job.

Right now high-frequency trading is hot. John Manzella, managing director at Providence Search Group, a Charlotte, N.C.-based recruiter, said the biggest selling point for jobseekers is their contact list, primarily their ability to convert business relationships into sales–now. 

"Last year, when companies were trying to establish themselves in a particular area, hiring was based on relationships and how they can translate them into business opportunities right away," Manzella said. And that’s good news for trading pros that have a great contact list and in need of a job.

After the Big Board downsized, Hughes was able to land a job in one month–a rarity these days. He is now director of sales at Exegy Inc., which offers market data processing services and data feed handlers to the high-frequency crowd. 

"I consider myself extremely fortunate to have found a position is such a short period of time," Hughes said. Although he was qualified for the position, he also pointed out that he benefited throughout his career from his willingness to learn new areas of trading and new skill sets.

Little did he know that pre-selling rack space in the exchange’s Mahwah, N.J. data center would position him for his next job. "That’s when co-location became a large part of its business," he said.

After learning the ins and outs of co-location, latency, data processing, Hughes said he was prepared for a technology sales job. His task is to expand Exegy’s client list of eight, which includes the ECN Direct Edge.

Ironically, the new job puts Hughes in competition against his old firm in some areas. Hughes, who looks back fondly on his days at NYSE Euronext, says it will be a challenge for Exegy and its 60 employees to compete against a global powerhouse. But, he adds, he likes his firm’s chances because of its nimble size, which should translate into quick responses to clients. 

For jobseekers, Hughes says his secret sauce to landing a job wasn’t so secret. He benefited from a bit of luck, to be sure, but he also capitalized on his network of contacts, including headhunters. Jobseekers should maintain an active business network profile, such as on LinkedIn, that highlights their strengths and successes.

"As soon as I imported my resume and updated my profile," Hughes said. "I was contacted by a handful of recruiters that put me in touch with potential opportunities, one of which led to my position at Exegy."