Stocks could be soaring or plunging, but Stacey Cunningham is clear-eyed and steadfast about her job as the new President of the New York Stock Exchange.
“Our mission is to help companies raise money so they can go out and change the world,” Cunningham tells Fortune.
She also plans to make her own changes at the world’s largest stock exchange. Cunningham shrugs off the obvious change of being the first female leader in the Big Board’s 226-year history. She prefers to talk about adding more technology at the NYSE, increasing the number of IPOs, and working in Washington to loosen regulations for NYSE listed companies. She also talks glowingly of the support she is getting from the NYSE’s owner, Jeffrery Sprecher, CEO of the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE).
“When a 12-year-old company announces plans to buy a company that’s 220-years old, that’s a disrupter. That’s someone who’s looking to make a business more efficient and to find a new way of doing things,” Cunningham says of ICE’s purchase of the NYSE five years ago. Now she says Sprecher is encouraging her to “Go reinvent this place. Nothing is sacred. You can do whatever you want.”
But there’s one thing Cunningham will be keeping the same—brokers and specialists doing business on the NYSE trading floor.
“It’s like when you get on an airplane,” she explains. “You still have a pilot at the controls. You know that you can automate all those functions and you don’t need that. But you have a much safer flight when you do.”
Watch the interview above for more from my interview with Cunningham.