Five Minutes with Alun Green
Five Minutes with Alun Green, SunGard
Alun Green is the general manager for SunGard’s Cliq business. After growing up in England, Green moved to Chicago with Carr Futures and then to SunGard to lead the Stream GMI efforts. Green sat down with MarketsWiki’s Jessica Titlebaum to discuss what he did before he was in the derivatives industry, his favorite travel location and what he does in his free time.
Q. What do you like most about the financial industry?
A. I love that the industry is global and local at the same time. I have traveled around a bit and this is an industry that spreads into many countries. Not just the developed countries but the emerging markets too. This industry is small enough though that you can still get a feel for the community.
Q. What is your favorite place you have traveled to? Personal or business?
A. I was on holiday in New Zealand a few years ago while I was working as a math teacher. A colleague and I took a group of 17 and 18 year olds there for 6 weeks during their summer vacation. I loved it while we were there.
Q. For how long were you a teacher ?
A. I was a teacher right out of college, before I got into the futures industry, about nine years ago. My whole family is filled with teachers and I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I drifted into the family business.
There are a lot of things that carry over from teaching into the business world. For example, teaching is a job where you have a very fixed deadline and you’ve got a very fixed deliverable and you have no leeway on changing either of those two things. It’s beneficial for anyone that goes into business because if you can’t get it done teaching, you certainly can’t do it in business.
The fixed deliverable is the curriculum you have to teach. You have to get it done and if you don’t, that’s someone’s life you are impacting.
Also, there is an aspect of leadership involved in teaching. You have people that need to be motivated and it helps you to go up there and inspire people. You can’t just get up and give people information. You have to get across that passion that is behind the subject.
This is something that you can translate into a leadership position in business, as well. You don’t want to have people that are forced to work but people that enjoy and believe in what they do.
Q. If you weren’t in the derivatives industry, what would you be doing?
A. I have a number of different interests but none of them had turned into a career for me. I think that I would still be moving around from job to job if I wasn’t in this industry.
One of the things I love is music and I tried to become a musician, unsuccessfully obviously. I play the violin and the drums. I don’t get the opportunity as much as I would like nowadays to play but when I do, I enjoy it. I truly enjoy playing in front of an audience.
I also sing but people don’t tend to encourage that.
Q. Were you in a band?
I played drums in a band. We went through various names throughout the course but the name we last played under was The List. This was in London and we didn’t record ourselves. The band was somewhat serious -- or at least, we took ourselves seriously, I will say that. It was great fun.
I played the violin in various orchestras but more for fun. I still play but only in the comfort of my own home.
Q. What was your worst business decision and what did you learn from it?
Like most people, I look back on the mistakes I have made. My worst business decision was when I was development manager and overestimated what I could get done with the resources at my disposable.
I learned from that to be more realistic about what it is that can be achieved. Even more, because we can’t do everything, I learned to really make sure we are focused on achieving things that really bring value.
Focus on what is important, make sure you deliver that and don’t be distracted by all that you cannot do.
Q. You recently became general manager of SunGard’s Cliq business. What is your daily routine?
A. Since Cliq is a new product, I am trying to grow a business and an organization. My responsibilities differ day-to-day depending on what we are looking at.
There are some days when I spend a lot of my time meeting with or talking to customers, and then there are other days when I talk to the development staff about the direction in which we want the product to go. It is very hard to nail down a particular routine but most of what I am trying to do is shape an organization that will fulfill what we are trying to do as a business, which is to fill a gap in the global derivatives space.
Q. You were in a similar role for SunGard’s Stream GMI product. What are some of the differences in this position?
A. One of the main differences is the size of the organization. Stream GMI is a big, global organization and mature in many ways. There were a lot of processes already in place so you might describe running Stream GMI as working with a machine that is already running very smoothly. I had to run the machine and fine tune it.
Cliq is new so it’s starting from the beginning with a much smaller group. It needs to be be nimble and fast-moving and we are creating the processes to make sure that is the case.
Q. You said this is a global initiative, what other markets are you looking at to introduce Cliq?
A. Our focus is on where the most volume is and that would be the Americas and London. However, many of the locations we see potential in are the markets that haven’t been historically well served so we are looking at the southeast region like Taiwan or Singapore. Another market is Brazil, which is up and coming, as well as other South American areas.
That is not to say that we have easy solutions to the problems that exist in those markets but we are definitely trying to be aware of where the volume is today and where the trends will take us.
Q. What do you see as challenges in those markets?
There are regulatory or rules-based difficulties that make it more complex to do business in those markets. That means that we need to have local experts that understand how to do that business and that can work within those markets to open them up globally.
Another issue that we occasionally see is that these markets are built up to be very domestic. Their systems and solutions are different from the way things are done in the bulk of Europe or America. The challenge is to understand those differences and not to force either side to conform but to get a synthesis that really works for all parties involved.
Q. Where do you see Cliq in 5 years?
A. I expect Cliq will be a part of the every day post trade derivatives space.
The real value Cliq brings is in between the front office and the back office, or the originators and the processors of a trade, or the buy-side and sell-side. Cliq really enables these people to communicate much better with each other. Cliq is the tool that can bring these communities together, bring visibility to the front end about what happens to their trades and bring information to the back end about what the front end wants to do.
The derivatives business has made great strides with Straight Thru Processing over the last 10 years, but I think there is a gap between people making trade positions and the people involved in the settlement and clearing process on the back end. We believe Cliq will close that gap.