January 6, 2009
OANDA Corporation has been the most comprehensive website for currency exchange rate information since it went online in 1996. ECE Professor Michael Stumm created OANDA to fill an obvious market need. He never expected the organization to take off as quickly as it did, considering no real investment was directed to marketing, advertising or sales.
“We didn’t do anything to build a successful client base beyond having a good product. We built it and they came. With the Internet, it is really easy to get a large client base if you have a compelling product. The trick to staying on top is to treat all clients as partners and handle everything in a fair way even if that means lower revenues,” says Professor Stumm – despite ever having to encounter lower revenues himself.
“OANDA Rates”® are used as references for corporations, tax authorities, and auditing firms. OANDA also provides data and web content to over 35,000 organizations (including many Fortune 500 companies), and processes several billion dollars of trades through its leading FXTrade platform. The flourishing future of OANDA appears extremely bright – Silicon Alley Insider lists the corporation as the tenth most valuable privately held hi-tech startup with a net worth of approximately $1.2 billion.
Although annual profits of OANDA continue to grow at a strong rate, getting to this point did not come without its challenges.
“I’ve been working 18-hour days for many years. My typical workday is more reactive than proactive, attending lots and lots of meetings, interspersed with lots of travel. I depend heavily on my staff. The key to success is hiring the right employees. However, finding these individuals can prove to be difficult. I’ve failed in being able to hire good executives in the past. I’ve quickly learned that an MBA does not equal an effective manager. Leadership to me is best developed from within. I now pay very careful attention to specific traits when hiring any employee,” explains Professor Stumm.
So what exactly are these traits? According to Professor Stumm, the type of individuals who become strong leaders are nice, smart, independent thinkers, and technically competent. Traits that he believes are found within each of our Engineering students and alumni. On Thursday, January 29th, OANDA will be hosting a booth at our Engineering Career Fair to meet and inspire some of our best and brightest, and help them on their career journeys.