Chris Isaacson, Alumni Spotlight
- Tell us about yourself and your background (where you’re from, education, where you’ve worked, etc).
I grew up on a farm near Loomis, Nebraska, about 30 miles southwest of Kearney, where my parents and brother still farm. The faith, values and work ethic I learned there have defined my entire life. I learned to enjoy hard work whether it was farming, studying, playing sports, or working in the professional world after Raikes. And I also learned to be grateful, responsible, and confident in my decision making as my parents gave me a lot of responsibility growing up.
I earned a bachelor's degree in information systems with a minor in math in 2001 from Nebraska Wesleyan University and was a two-time Academic All-American while competing in the decathlon. I earned a master's degree in business administration from Raikes in 2003 and I’ve served on the Advisory Board since 2011.
I began my career as a software engineer at Cerner Corp., the publicly traded, Kansas City-based healthcare software provider. I was then a software developer at Tradebot Systems, a stock trading firm, from 2003 to 2005.
- What are some highlights or key takeaways from your master’s program experience in the Raikes School?
The highlights for me were the tremendous fellow students (both undergraduate and graduate) that I got to know and work with throughout my MBA program. Also, design studio was such a unique experience because it allowed me to work with others to build real software that was used by companies outside of Raikes. I thrived on the responsibility and found I loved building software, complex distributed systems, and great teams.
- You are a co-founder and current executive at Bats, tell us about the company, its founding, and what you do there now.
We founded Bats in 2005 – just 13 people, including me – and the goal was to create a company that would compete with the likes of the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq, offering people the ability to trade stocks on a more efficient and less expensive platform.
Modern-day exchanges are technology-driven companies and we built the Bats system from scratch with a small team of developers and, in a little more than a decade, we’ve expanded to 10 markets globally, becoming the #2 stock market in the U.S. and #1 in Europe while also offering trading in options and currencies. We now have 325 people, headquartered in Kansas City with large offices in New York and London, and are excited about the future as we’ve recently agreed to a transaction to combine with the historical leading options market, CBOE, based in Chicago.
My role is that of global chief information officer and executive vice president, with responsibilities for ensuring that Bats remains an innovative, world-class leader in exchange technology. I oversee all technology and market operations for the company, including technology strategy, software development and quality, as well as IT infrastructure and security.
- Bats has participated in the Raikes School career fair and employed a few of our students, tell us about that experience.
First, Raikes students are some of the most qualified candidates we interview every year thanks to tremendous entrance standards and the education and training they receive. And that makes recruiting candidates from Raikes extremely competitive as many companies realize the value Raikes candidates can create.
At Bats, we recently started an internship program and had a Raikes student intern this past summer. Though the student had just finished his freshman year, he added substantial value at Bats, writing actual production code that we’re now running daily in our exchanges. We try to give interns and new full-time associates interesting, challenging projects to truly test their skills early and Raikes students shine.
- You currently serve on the Raikes School corporate advisory board, tell us about your experiences on the board and why you’ve chosen to continue to give of your time and talents at the Raikes School.
I’m passionate about good technical and business education in the US, especially in the Midwest. It’s where I’m from, it’s where we have our largest office and it’s where we’ve found almost all of the associates – technology and otherwise - we employ in Kansas City. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to earn my MBA at Raikes and I want to make sure the school continues to thrive and grow to offer that opportunity to other students.
I also want to see the technology ecosystem and workforce grow exponentially here in the Midwest. Encouraging aspiring entrepreneurs and world-class software engineers within Raikes is high-yield use of my time. And I continuously learn from the esteemed members of the Raikes advisory board including Jeff and Tricia Raikes as well as from Executive Director, Stephen Cooper. Serving on the advisory board is energizing and a privilege.
- Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I was extremely blessed to attend the Raikes School and earn my MBA and count it a blessing to stay involved as part of the advisory board. I encourage all Raikes alumni to get involved with the Raikes School and help it and the students thrive – I believe that what you give back is every bit as important as what you get.
Because Raikes is a tremendous school training the entrepreneurs and technology leaders of tomorrow, I want to see it grow substantially and have even bigger impact throughout the Midwest and beyond. I also want to encourage alumni to network extensively with other Raikes alumni as alumni achievements since I graduated have been truly amazing. I’m proud to be an alum.