Wick Simmons, former CEO of NASDAQ and Chairman of The Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport, Joins The Podcast
Hardwick Simmons has been in the financial world for over 45 years. He’s played tennis since the age of 8 and the first job he held was rolling courts at his beloved club in Marion, MA. He still plays tennis there at the club and remains active in finance and the business world. Just how did this Wall Street financier combine his work life with his love of tennis and help to bring the ATP to fruition and the WTA major growth? Find out as he joins the BTB Podcast.
Wick, as he’s better known in the industry, has run or been a part of executive searches for international firms including Prudential, NASDAQ, Shearson Lehman Brothers and American Express where he served as CEO or President, as well as Lionsgate Films and Groton School. But with tennis his first sport and love, he’s also one of the leading search consultants in the tennis world and was in charge of the search for Newport’s International Tennis Hall of Fame, where he also served as Chairman of the Board. Wick hired Todd Martin and both he and Todd have never looked back.
Wick was there at the birth of the ATP Tour with friend and business associate Butch Buchholz. Wick later brought full sponsorship to the “fifth major” while he served as CEO of NASDAQ. Wick was also instrumental in the growth of the WTA, as personal friend Larry Scott asked for advice and support in 2003 when he ascended to CEO at the WTA. Together they added major sponsorship through the relationship with Sony Ericsson.
A CEO’s Secrets To Finding The Right Candidate In Tennis and Finance
In terms of running a search in the tennis world, “it all starts with the quality of the pool of candidates, which is the hardest part,” says Wick. “I think the key to any search is to find someone who culturally matches up with what you’re representing. That fit is extremely important to start. That first year and a half or two years is what’s critical, and if you’ve made the right fit, it doesn’t always work perfectly, but nonetheless both sides find a way to make it work.”
Reflecting back on his tenure at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Wick says there was an ulterior motive in hiring Todd Martin in 2014. “The Hall Of Fame really rests on the laurels of the members who are in it. At that time, what we didn’t have was the support needed from the current handful of players. What the Hall needed was someone who could reach out to the younger, more current players.
Wick has found a similar issue not only at the Hall of Fame, where he stepped down and said he wouldn’t remain on the board after several years, but at clubs and major firms at which he has worked across the nation, either as a board member or consultant. “It’s so often that clubs or organizations stick with leadership far longer than they should.” He discusses how programming can get old, and that boards must look at themselves and re-evaluate the needs of the club and review often the administrative leadership.
Hints For Today’s Job Seekers
“Find something you’re really interested in and pay your dues at the start and see what doors open for you.” Wick looks back at his career, proud of his work and the legacy he has left at some of Wall Street’s major firms. Commenting on the past year, Wick believes Wall Street firms will return to a new normality with office hours back on the cards. Working from home all the time, he believes, creates issues and many have found it more difficult than we are realizing at this time.
Harking back to JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,” Simmons points to the major difference between when he began his career in the workplace and today’s millennials, looking to be hired. “It used to be make your workplace better before you left, but now it’s more of make me better before I leave,” says Simmons.
Wick took up golf at the young age of 65, but still finds tennis his number one sport. He sees growth from all ages and socio-economic demographics for tennis across the globe. “It’s a great game. I love it. It’s a life-time game and I hope people love it as much as I do.”