As the chief executive officer and co-founder of Creditex - a wholly owned subsidiary of IntercontinentalExchange (ICE), a leading operator of global derivatives exchanges and over-the-counter (OTC) markets - it may surprise some that Sunil Hirani received his Bachelor of Science degree in computer science in 1988 from Washington University's School of Engineering & Applied Science. Yet, Hirani says it is not really much of a stretch. "Everything in my life has grown on what went before. Whether I am working in engineering and computer science or in business and finance, it is still the same thing: problem solving. The disciplines of computer science and engineering are very useful tools and useful ways of thinking about the world," he says. Hirani was born in India and immigrated to Texas with his parents when he was 10. His father was an engineer, and Hirani assumed he would pursue a career in engineering, too.
"Engineering was all I knew. Everyone that we knew was an engineer or in engineering or a related field. I didn't know anything else," he says.
But from an early age, he also had an interest in the way businesses and commerce worked. When he was mowing the lawn, he would daydream about obtaining a truck to enable him to mow more lawns - and then obtaining even more trucks. "Even as a kid, I had this idea about creating a business. I always had something on the side," Hirani says.
In high school, he sold concert tickets. As an engineering student at Washington University, he created extracurricular income by purchasing unused meal plans (primarily from women) and selling them (primarily to men) with a modest markup during the course of a semester.
Crain's New York Business named Hirani to the "40 Under 40" list in 2006. One year later, he was also named a recipient of the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for financial services. In addition, Creditex earned a place on Deloitte's New York Technology Fast 50 List. Deloitte reported that the company experienced revenue growth of 779% from 2001 to 2005. Hirani graduated and worked for Lockheed Martin for approximately four years as a software engineer. He designed, developed and implemented software and hardware systems for NASA's space program in Houston. During that time, he regularly considered making a drastic change and moving to New York City to "do something" in finance on Wall Street.
"Some friends counseled me and said, 'You really need to go to business school first,'" he says. That is when he decided to attend the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.
Before he founded Creditex in 1999, Hirani worked at Deutsche Bank and Bankers Trust, where he was involved with numerous aspects of the over-the-counter (OTC) derivatives business. He also helped develop the credit derivatives business in North America at Deutsche Bank. Creditex is the first and leading e-trading platform in credit derivatives, and is used by more than 1,000 traders at the world's top financial institutions. In 2007, the platform executed more than $3 trillion in credit default swap (CDS) indices and single-name CDS.
In June 2008, IntercontinentalExchange (ICE) announced the merger agreement to acquire Creditex Group Inc., with a transaction consideration of $625 million. ICE has invited senior Creditex management to continue with the combined company. At this time, both Creditex and ICE are working on a global clearinghouse for credit derivatives.
"If we look at what we do in the market structure, such as finding solutions for the marketplace and creating exchanges or marketplaces, it is like solving a puzzle. What is interesting is that we are using technology and finance in a real-life laboratory to continuously Hirani's innovative approach expanded Creditex's business globally, including the launch of T-Zero®, the leading credit derivatives trade capture and affirmation platform, and is now working on a centralized counter party for clearing credit derivatives, which has been called for and encouraged by U.S and European regulators and governments.
Hirani is a member of the School of Engineering's National Council and Eliot Society. As an Eliot Fellow, he and his wife, Blanca, established an engineering scholarship fund to be awarded to students with the greatest need. The Hiranis recently committed a generous donation for scholarships to be spread throughout the undergraduate schools at Washington University.
"I maintain a relationship with the University because I am impressed by its many aspects, including its global programs. The McDonnell Scholars is an awesome program that helps get the University's name out there globally. That is important, because we do live in a global world. The education that I received at the University was invaluable, and I will be forever grateful for being accepted and graduating from Washington University," Hirani says.
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As the CEO and co-founder of Creditex, a leading operator of global derivatives exchanges and over-the-counter markets - it may surprise some that Sunil Hirani received his Bachelor of Science degree in computer science in 1988 from Washington University's School of Engineering.