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Markets Master: Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman, MBA’93, charts the future of finance

by Jul. 11, 2017, 2:55 PM

When Adena Friedman, MBA’93, took over as CEO of Nasdaq at the start of 2017, making her the first woman to lead a global exchange company, she became the subject of numerous profiles in the financial press. Although each piece explored different aspects of her management style and future plans for Nasdaq, one detail always garnered prominent mention: Friedman holds a black belt in taekwondo.

For business-inclined readers who can never get enough Confucian-hued pearls of strategic wisdom, the metaphors practically wrote themselves. A typical passage went something like this one from Bloomberg: “The history books will … show that Friedman, a black belt in taekwondo, was the one who finally kicked through the thick glass ceiling that hung over Wall Street since its days under a buttonwood tree in the 1700s.”

But ask Friedman, who graduated with a master’s in business administration in 1993 from Vanderbilt’s Owen Graduate School of Management, what lessons she carries from the taekwondo studio (where she still trains with her family) to the executive suite, and her answer might surprise you.


Originally published in Vanderbilt Magazine

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