Q&A: Niel Siekerka, Global Head of Markets Data, Reuters

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"It's really exciting to be able to provide timely, accurate and consistent information to clients who use it to make very important decisions."

Niel, tell us what you do exactly.

I run market data operations for Reuters. We collect and manage all the financial information that comes in from the exchanges, contributors and third parties, and we normalize it and produce output that goes into our products. So, for example, we take data coming in from the New York Stock Exchange, format it into a Reuters presentation and deliver it to terminals used by people like brokers and investment professionals.

Could you walk us through your career path?>

I graduated from Rutgers University in 1984 with a degree in economics. I started my career at Dow Jones as a database statistician, collecting financial information in real time, as well as historical data for the electronic publication division. We created the Dow Jones Indices and World Indices.

After six or seven years I moved on to a project management position overseeing global exchange data for a company called Telerate, which Dow Jones had purchased. I then had stints as a vice president for a small company called Fame Information Services, where I oversaw product development and data quality, and Merrill Lynch, where I was in charge of product and pricing strategy. My next stop was my current position at Reuters.

It seems that your career grew alongside the information technology sector.

That's true. As the technology grew, the scope of my responsibility grew. First information from financial databases went into newspapers, then electronic publishing, and so on. Each stage had nuances that required operational functions and technology and quality initiatives.

The industry has grown dramatically over the last 20 years, as new markets open and new products are developed. It creates new challenges every day. It's really exciting to be able to provide timely, accurate and consistent information to clients who use it to make very important decisions.

So what advice would you give to people starting their careers in a more mature technology industry?

It's a fine line between being open to learning new things, not limiting yourself to current technology and seeking out new challenges, but also keeping up on industry initiatives and training opportunities to set yourself apart as a subject matter expert.

What does your typical day look like?

As a senior manager, I have a say in not just my group, but other groups and divisions to make sure we're meeting the goals and standards we set.

Keep in mind Reuters is a global company. I have people in every time zone. We try to keep a work-life balance, but the reality is that at any moment part of the world is awake and part of the world is asleep. I take phone calls at 5 a.m. to make sure I am able to participate in calls in Europe, and calls at 9 p.m. to take part in meetings in Asia. There's not a set amount of hours I work.

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