Atlanta Spotlight | Jay Rajarathinam

Jay Rajarathinam is the SVP - Global Head of Infrastructure at the Intercontinental Exchange.

“The Intercontinental Exchange is a leading operator of regulated exchanges and clearing houses serving the risk management needs of global markets for energy, interest rates, credit, currency, bonds, agriculture, precious metals, equities, equity indexes and equity options.  ICE supports customers from end to end. From listings, pre-trade to execution, clearing, data and technology, ICE brings innovative solutions to support market evolution and risk management. ICE helped pioneer the electronic derivatives marketplace and their state-of-the-art infrastructure is designed to meet specific trading and risk management needs securely and reliably.”

“As the VP of Infrastructure and Engineering at the Intercontinental Exchange, Jay manages teams in Atlanta, New York, Chicago and London. He manages IT infrastructure and engineering teams for combined Intercontinental Exchange and NYSE businesses (ICE acquired NYSE Euronext in 2013) and his responsibilities include architecture, engineering, support and project management for networks, systems, data centers and storage. Jay is also responsible for researching, evaluating and introducing new technologies to continuously improve the ICE platforms to handle latest business and technology developments.”

Where were you born?

Madras, India.

What were some of your interests growing up?

Pretty much any sport that I could play and I loved competing. I played a lot of cricket which is a very popular sport in India. Growing up I was also very keen to have chess, painting and philately (stamp collection) as hobbies. I loved taking things apart and putting them back together (not always properly) such as TV’s and radios.

What was the path to your first job?

I established my first job straight out of graduating from the University of Illinois after receiving a Master’s Degree in Computer Science. I did an internship with Motorola in Chicago within a really interesting division called Iridium, which dealt with satellites and mobile technologies.

Tell me about your early career- lessons learned?

One thing I learned very quickly leading IT teams was that it is not just important to have the brightest engineering teams. The team must understand the business context of what you are working on, why you are working on it and what the goals are. There are so many innovative products that never get past the lab or to the commercial stage because they didn’t impact the bottom line. You may have Einstein in your company but you can still go bankrupt if you don’t prioritize work and focus work correctly.

Additionally, I have learned in my career the value of networking with professionals and building a network of advisors, colleagues, and friends. You learn a lot about what to do and what not to do from best practices within your network.

Who is an influencer for you?

The current CEO of Juniper Networks, Shaygan Kheradpir. He was a former COO of Barclay’s where I worked in his team. He is an extremely technical guy with a Ph.D from Cornell but he nicely balances his technical skills with his business and management skills to shape overall technology direction. He is also able to connect directly with engineers, to have real conversations about how systems work and to motivate them to realize his vision. He is one of the few CIOs who have seamlessly transitioned to CEO roles. I admire that about him I try to emulate some of those things about him.

What brought you to Atlanta?

I was originally with the NYSE in London. ICE did not have my equivalent position at the time of the NYSE acquisition and it was the perfect opportunity for me to run the combined teams for such an exciting company. I didn’t know much about Atlanta and it was a bit of a leap of faith coming here, but it has worked out well.

What do you like about your current position?


The single biggest thing I like is the pace of change and support for rapid innovation that takes place within ICE. The impacts that we have, not just for our shareholders but for the entire capital markets system within the United States and globally, are incredible. Operating multiple exchanges and multiple clearing houses that are very critical to the overall global economy is a responsibility that I enjoy being a part of. I feel that we are a small spoke as a piece of the puzzle and that motivates me every day.

What makes ICE a successful company?

I think it is the ability to maintain the traits of a startup company, moving fast, being able to change direction, taking measured risks, eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy. I think of ICE like a cheetah, very fast and agile. When you look at NYSE it’s like an elephant with its own strengths of long history, solid brand and reputation with customers.  ICE now in my opinion is an elephant running like a cheetah.

How is the culture at ICE?

Very much like a startup company in my opinion. We hate silos, and really encourage reaching out and solving problems real time. We are in the process of moving into a new HQ in Atlanta and getting used to the new layout. My own team is spread out across Atlanta, New York, Chicago and London, but our culture transcends geography. It can pose some challenges for coordination but technology has obviously allowed us to overcome these issues and we travel whenever needed.

What do you see in the future for ICE?

Hoping for more growth. It is a very fast moving industry so new growth from acquisitions and joining new markets is never too far. In some cases we sell off businesses that are not core to our strategy. I expect this constant evolution and associated technology integration activities.

Where can we find you when you’re not working?

I travel quite a bit from the job. I recently bought a home in East Cobb, so getting to know the area and my community. I am a motorcyclist enthusiast and have owned many over my lifetime – Hayabusa, R1, etc.  I recently bought a Harley VRod. It’s a bit slower, but it’s such a great way to get around and enjoy Atlanta.

Secrets to success?

Constantly learn and be ready to forget what you thought was right and adapt. Once you stop evolving within your career your career can die. You find a lot of organizations try to fix the deficiencies in people. When I discover an individual has a weakness, rather than trying to fix it I focus the individual’s strengths. I like using people for their strengths rather than trying to fix their weaknesses. If I have a team member that is not good with finances but they are good at building systems I tell them to focus on that and be the best at that.

By Jon Huggins

ATLANTA TREND™

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