Craig S. Donohue, Class of 1989
Incoming Executive Chairman of OCC (formerly the Options Clearing Corp.)
Craig Donohue is the incoming Executive Chairman of OCC (formerly the Options Clearing Corp.), assuming the position as of January 2014. Donohue previously spent 23 years at CME Group and its predecessor, CME Holdings, holding a broad range of positions with progressively increasing responsibilities in Legal Affairs, Market Regulation, Strategic Planning and Business Development, including General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer and CEO since 2004. He served on CME Group’s Board of Directors and played a leading role in completing more than $20 billion in mergers and acquisitions, including the historic acquisitions of the Chicago Board of Trade and the New York Mercantile Exchange. He was also instrumental in orchestrating CME’s demutualization in November 2000 and its initial public offering in 2002.
Donohue was recognized as one of the top 100 Irish Business Leaders by Irish America Magazine in both 2003 and 2004 and received the International Executive of the Year Award from the Executives Club of Chicago in 2009. In the same year, he was named to the Institutional Investor’s Power 50 list of the World’s Most Influential People in Finance and was recognized as the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year in the investment/financial services category for the Midwest region. In 2010, he was selected as one of the 50 best-performing CEOs in the world by the Harvard Business Review.
What were you like as a law student?
At that time, I was trying to balance the demands of working and at the same time pursuing the LLM degree. I felt like I was a young lawyer; it was a wonderful opportunity. It was a great experience to be coming to class and dealing with faculty who were practicing in the field that I wanted to enter.
What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
Ironically, I always felt I was going to be a lawyer. When I was very young I probably didn’t have a very grounded reason for why, but that never really changed for me. It was always my intention and I rarely had any doubt as to wanting to be a lawyer. That’s the great thing about law- it teaches you so many skills you can use in different types of careers.
What does the future hold for you?
I’m just about to take on a new role, which is the Executive Chairman of the Options Clearing Corporation, and I’m very excited about it. It’s very close to my areas of expertise and knowledge and yet it’s different enough and more involved in the securities and options markets that it’s got tremendous opportunities from a learning perspective. That’s my next venture and my next chapter in life.
What has been your greatest challenge?
I think the challenges are always trying to figure out how you continue to make progress and evolve your skills and your abilities and the satisfaction that you derive from the work that you’re doing. Throughout my career I found that I was something of a risk-taker on a personal level. People would offer me the opportunity to do something new and different and more often than not, I would take it. It was always sort of confronting that challenge and do I look for more opportunity for fulfillment and to grow and learn? I always err on that side and encourage people to follow that as well.
How did Chicago-Kent prepare you for your present success?
My time here at Kent was remarkable because not only did I learn voluminous amounts of knowledge about the financial services and how it was regulated, but it was that connection point between the pure academic and practitioner side. The ability to work with people who were actively practicing in these areas and for those people to become peers and colleagues was a great focal point. I really credit it for where I am today.