Nasdaq Purpose Champion: Craig Byll on Creating a More Equitable, Fair and Compassionate World of Tomorrow

At Nasdaq, our purpose is to champion inclusive growth and prosperity. We power stronger economies, create more equitable opportunities, and contribute to a more sustainable world to help our communities, clients, employees and people of all backgrounds reach their full potential. This year, we celebrated our inaugural Purpose Week, in which we highlighted those in our communities who are putting Purpose Into Action.  

We spoke with Nasdaq Purpose Champion Craig Byll, a Senior Product Analyst for the North American Markets unit, about his service and what purpose means to him.

Please tell us about your role at Nasdaq and what it entails. 

I have the wonderful privilege to serve as a Senior Product Analyst on the North American Markets Team here at Nasdaq, with a focus on the U.S. equities space. I work with a team of remarkable, creative and thoughtful leaders in their own right, who all inspire me each and every day. I truly love my job because, on a daily basis, I get to work with incredibly talented people all across our organization in order to research, develop and ultimately provide the best solutions for our clients and stakeholders, external and internal. I am thankful, as I believe there is a rare and understated joy in the experience behind that statement; frankly, the chance to go to work at a job that you truly love and inspires you, within an environment full of people who motivate you to be your best self, is a blessing in its own right. 

It is fascinating because, in North American Markets, we work on the subject matter behind the real-time, actual mechanisms of the capital markets. This is the kind of material that I used to dream of understanding and researching in school, and it is an honor to say that I actually work in this product space, conducting research and solving problems within this field today. 

Additionally, I have been working within the North American Markets unit for a few months at this point, having transitioned from another business unit within Nasdaq. My previous role was within Nasdaq’s Investment Intelligence business, where I supported our exceptional Data and Index sales teams with reports, analytics, data and business insights using a variety of business systems and tools. If I can say one thing about my shift across business units, it must be that the experience has proven to me that Nasdaq itself as an overall business is integrated and operates as a unified and well-oiled machine. People work very diligently and intentionally across business units, which helps eliminate “silos,” and our best work is collaborative. The Data, Index and Analytics departments within Investment Intelligence dovetail perfectly with the transaction-focused business within North American Markets. Every component and aspect of the amalgam that we call Nasdaq possesses unique features that benefit every other component, and the business is quite actually capable of lifting itself up to new levels when it all works as a unit. There is truth in our value to “Play as a Team” because that is when our best work as a company is done. 

I would not be where I currently am without my start in Investment Intelligence and the strong impact my peers, colleagues and mentors had on me in my previous role. Nasdaq’s Investment Intelligence business and its leaders like Lauren Dillard, Oliver Albers and Jeff Kimsey, to name a few, truly emphasize the value in pursuing one’s interests and passions and the importance of data within the Fintech world. That empowerment in leadership inspired my passion in the product management space of Fintech, as well as the creation of solutions grounded in data, that can positively impact our industry and people who depend on us.

In my new role, I have the opportunity to study and practice fundamental research, client-based analysis and help work behind the scenes to develop creative and innovative solutions that culminate in the services we provide at Nasdaq. Additionally, I have been encouraged to combine those aspects with the background of business analytics and data from my prior role. This has enabled me to enrich my own experience and tie in some knowledge across sectors of the business, based on some experience from what I knew before, coupled with what I am currently learning about the transactions business and the North American Markets as well. 

How were you first introduced to Nasdaq’s philanthropic efforts? 

I was first introduced to the philanthropic efforts here at Nasdaq through our network called GLOBE (Global Link of Black Employees). GLOBE is an employee resource group here at Nasdaq that focuses on empowering and uplifting the black community. GLOBE was created to connect individuals and allies in our Black and Brown communities; and furthermore, GLOBE serves to uplift and support our diverse and ever-present community and culture both in and outside of Nasdaq and across the diaspora. When I joined GLOBE, I was welcomed with open arms and discovered a space where I felt like I belonged. Members and allies alike, whether you are Black, Brown, of African descent or just interested in our culture, we are all part of one big family.

My first experience with GLOBE was participating in our Black History Month events around the time I joined the company. It was through our GLOBE Black History Month celebration that I was introduced to GoodWorks and the volunteering and philanthropy efforts within Nasdaq. Moreso, through GLOBE, I began to learn about Nasdaq’s Purpose and the emphasis that Nasdaq puts on corporate social responsibility, volunteering and giving back to our community at large. Needless to say, I was inspired by Nasdaq to get involved and make an attempt to be a part of the change I wanted to see in this world. Fortunately, with Nasdaq as our nexus, GLOBE is able to connect with various initiatives for philanthropy and giving and is heavily involved in efforts to directly engage and support communities. At Nasdaq, we all want to positively impact people and make a difference. I believe it is something in our DNA.

As part of GLOBE, I currently serve on the leadership board as a Marketing and Communications co-lead, a co-lead of the Volunteering and Community Involvement Pillar within our DIB (Diversity Inclusion and Belonging) Task Force, a lead on our Black History Month Planning Committee, and lastly, a graduate of our first inaugural GLOBE Emerging Leaders Program. It has been quite an amazing ride thus far, being involved here at Nasdaq, particularly within our GLOBE, and I cannot wait to continue the initiatives we have been driving forth. I am thankful for my mentors and sponsors, who have encouraged my peers and me to work with passion and represent what we believe in. 

I am also humbled to work with my colleagues in our numerous employee resource groups such as WIN (Women In Nasdaq), Adelante (which represents our LatinX community), APAN (which represents our Asian American and Pacific Islander Community), OPEN (which represents our LGBTQIA community), our Veterans group and the Nasdaq Accessibility Network, who all have an immense amount of passion and pride in their identities and communities that make us who we are. The efforts of all of our employee resource groups reflect Nasdaq’s commitment to representation, giving back, and creating a space for diversity, inclusivity, and acceptance that extends beyond our company. 

What are some of the volunteer opportunities you’ve participated in with and outside Nasdaq?

Within Nasdaq, I have had the pleasure to be involved with a multitude of volunteering opportunities, thanks to the emphasis that we place on making a difference by getting engaged. I have had the chance to work alongside groups like Purpose, the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, and GoodWorks, which have given me numerous chances to raise my hand and participate. I have been involved as part of other efforts, such as the Investment Intelligence DIB Steering Committee, Nasdaq DIB Task Force, Campus Recruitment Initiative, and Amplifying Black Voices campaign, which helps showcase and shed light on the work of Black and Brown artists. As part of our Campus Recruitment Initiative, I have been privileged to work with numerous student-led organizations and cannot wait to keep up our momentum. A recent experience on this front is our participation in the very first Invesco QQQ HBCU Legacy Classic Career Summit, where I was able to represent Nasdaq and GLOBE with some close colleagues of mine and help recruit some brilliant students from renowned Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  

Another project I have been especially proud of is that I get to serve as co-lead of the GLOBE Volunteering and Community Involvement/Giving Task Force Pillar, where I work alongside some incredible teammates to create initiatives that help Nasdaq employees volunteer in organizations that make a positive contribution to underrepresented minority groups. Through the Task Force Pillar, we have been able to pursue projects where we strive to address topics like financial literacy, mentorship, education, HBCU involvement, as well as recruiting diverse and underrepresented talent, creating unique pipelines for professional development and networking, providing access to resources and serving those who otherwise might not have the same opportunities.

Additionally, I have been able to work with teams in partnering and connecting with non-profits and organizations, such as Mighty Writers, HEAF, The Greenwood Project, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, UpBrainery, Digitalundivided, and even some corporate partners in multiple industries. Some of the greatest experiences that I’ve had volunteering have been opportunities where my peers and I have been able to help mentor and educate talented young minds who all have the potential to be our future leaders one day. One example of this is my engagement with Mighty Writers, where I serve as a Mighty Mentor and Partner/Liaison to Nasdaq. Each and every time I connect with Mighty Writers and my amazing Mighty Mentee, my heart is full of joy. When it comes to stuff like that, I can’t help but smile.   

What is a time in which you lead with purpose alongside Nasdaq’s executives? 

I have had the remarkable chance to work with Nasdaq’s leadership as part of our engagement with some philanthropic partnerships like our collaboration with HEAF (The Harlem Educational Activities Fund), which our President and CEO Adena Friedman is an incredibly involved supporter of. As a matter of fact, Friedman was recently recognized by HEAF as a Gala 2021 Honoree “for being an innovator and disruptor who is helping create the future of opportunity by calling for more accountability among public companies in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion.” A few months ago, I had the amazing chance to sit beside Friedman and our Chief Client Officer Joseph Brantuk in a panel conversation with several HEAF students during which we discussed a number of topics, such as career advice, what it is like to work in our roles at Nasdaq, their goals and passions, and the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in our industry and across the world.

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When you think of the word “purpose,” what does it mean to you? 

I think that purpose, especially as it has resonated in my own personal experience and what I have observed in others, is multifaceted. Purpose represents our greatest dreams for the future, our passions at their purest. At the heart of purpose is our own humanity. The human condition itself is our through-line, and purpose is the intangible force at the core of our humanity that compels us to make a difference and give back. Purpose means a relentless commitment to advocacy and a contribution to the diverse communities and society that make us whole. It is about finding your voice and acting on it. When we serve others, we make an intentional choice to push for a more fair, equitable, and compassionate world of tomorrow.

What is your advice for people looking to volunteer, especially in a virtual environment? 

The possibilities are endless. For people who are looking to volunteer, especially within a virtual environment, my suggestion is to begin by asking others in your network questions, especially those who are involved in non-profits, charities, and programs that are focused on giving back. Questions like “how can I help?”, “how can I get involved?”, “where can I start?” can actually make all the difference because many of the best volunteering efforts have started as people who were just genuinely interested in helping others out. Volunteering occurs when people get together with the simple intent to give back and so raising your hand can make an enormous difference. I think that during this especially trying time of Covid-19, in the age of Zoom and video conferences, we find that while we might be physically distant, we can be present in different ways. I would encourage people looking to volunteer to begin by thinking about a company, organization, local community group, or network, and then to ask questions, show interest and communicate that you are looking for a chance to give back. You might be pleasantly surprised to find out that most volunteering begins by connecting with groups around you.  

What motivates you to volunteer and pay it forward? 

I am motivated to pay it forward and volunteer because I have seen the difference that giving back to our community can back. There is a kind of snowball effect, where one good deed has the potential to catalyze another, and so forth. One good deed becomes another and ultimately proves that kindness has the ability to amplify. I think it is in our nature as human beings to be kind and to want to help others out, and so we need to act on that impulse whenever we feel it. At Nasdaq and within our industry, it is part of our responsibility as a group and the individuals within it to help those around us. We must leverage the resources, privileges and platforms that we have to lend a helping hand to others. This is especially pertinent when we think about people who are generally in need and/or belong to underserved, underrepresented, and underprivileged communities. The time to help others is now. 

To channel a personal motivation that is at the root of my volunteering efforts and advocacy–in the spirit of Ahmad Aubery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and those who we have unfortunately lost before them–we have a duty to live our truth, in the hope that we can create a world where peace and justice, solidarity and coexistence are our reality. I look forward to what the next few years have in store, particularly in regards to our efforts to support our communities and furthermore advocate for a better world. To cite a work by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, “Because of institutional racism, the majority of Black and Brown people have been deprived of adequate health care, decent jobs, and quality education.” In order to progress as a society, we must provide others who are not as fortunate with the same life essentials many enjoy without much second thought, as well as a fighting chance to succeed. 

Nearly a year ago, I contemplated my intentions and goals. Thankfully not too much has changed in regards to what I find as my personal purpose and where I find inspiration. I am fundamentally motivated by the backdrop of social justice, equal rights, and the notion that all of us who are able can work to create a better, more just and equitable world. I see it as our mandate to push forth and live by example, especially when it comes to contributing to our society beneficially. Through the blueprint of best practices in ESG, which stands for Environmental Social and Governance, we can directly influence our corporations to take part in paving the way for a better future.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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