Chopper Trading Intramurals: Soccer Update – Summer 2014

If you follow my blog, then you know that Chopper has an excellent soccer team that plays in the evening on Monday nights.  The games are hosted by the Chicago Sport and Social League, and are played with 11 players from each opposing team.  To recap this past season, Chopper’s 17-person team ended the summer with a clean 2-0 victory at the finals to win the whole division!

As clear as the final victory was, the players tell me it wasn’t always so easy to win with solid margins. The preceding semi-final game was apparently one of the toughest games the team played all year.  They managed to pull through with a 3-2 victory, much to the credit of Chopper’s goalie who blocked three of the five shots from the opposing team.

As with any activity, having a good mascot has been essential to the team’s success.  Since my dog Chopper is the firm’s mascot, it only makes sense that our soccer team have a canine mascot, as well. One of the players always brings her dog, Ollie, to boost morale.

If having a cool dog for a mascot and enjoying the sport were not exciting enough, I hear Chicago’s unpredictable weather also contributed to the excitement of the season.  I recall a story of one game in which a spontaneous thunderstorm erupted out of perfectly clear skies, soaked the players for five minutes, and then evaporated as quickly as it arrived.  That’s lake-effect weather for you!

For updates on Chopper Trading activity, follow Raj Fernando on Twitter.

Chopper Trading’s Chess Team

Chopper Trading employees apply themselves to a diverse array of sports and hobbies in their free time.  One of those hobbies is chess, sanctioned by the Chopper Chess Team, which plays in the East Division of the Chicago Industrial Chess League.  Seven of Chopper’s employees meet once a week to practice and prepare for competitions scattered throughout the fall, winter and spring seasons.

While some activities can be picked up and set down without too much difficulty, chess is not one of them. Since the team’s creation in 2012, it has exhibited the dedication necessary to excel at the game, and the hard work has paid off in a big way.  Every player has demonstrated consistent and marked improvement over time, culminating in a third place team ranking in the East Division this year.

From what I hear, Chopper players have frequently had the pleasure of upsetting higher rated players and teams.  In the 2012-2013 season, Chopper’s team won the league-wide “highest team upset award,” and a Chopper player won the league-wide “highest individual upset award.”

The Chopper Chess Team has improved its final standings every year. In 2014, the players achieved their best record with six wins and three losses resulting in the previously mentioned third place ranking in the East Division. While this technically qualified the Chopper team to participate in the league-wide playoffs for the first time, our players were unfortunately unable to participate due to travel and scheduling conflicts.

Nonetheless, Chopper’s team has led victories over employees from a number of prominent Chicago area businesses and institutions such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, the American Medical Association, Enova Financial, and Northwestern University.

Overall, I think the Chopper Chess Team is highly representative of Chopper employees as a whole: driven, hard-working, and always bent on improving.  I want to congratulate the team on a well-played season, and wish everyone good luck in their competitions this next year.

To learn more about Rajiv Fernando and Chopper Trading activity, follow @rajiv_fernando and @ChopperTrading on Twitter.

Chopper Trading Intramural Sports Update

This spring, the Chopper Trading softball team learned a very important lesson about intramural sports: it’s not about winning, but about enjoying the sport, and supporting each other as a team. I won’t spend too much time talking about this year’s statistics but rather focus on how valuable I think it is that Chopper’s intramurals sports players devote their time and energy to supporting each other on the field, and in the office. Even when we lose a game, we look back at what we did wrong, and push ourselves and each other to do better the next time around.

Chopper’s soccer teams have held their own out on the field.  The spring soccer team ended an otherwise positive season with a loss in the quarter finals two weeks ago.  The summer soccer team started the season with a 3-0 win last week, after the team rallied behind the momentum created by two team members who scored a lot of goals.  I hope their success proves to be a theme for the summer!  Between intramurals and the World Cup, the Chopper Trading office is buzzing with enthusiasm for the sport.

Last, but not least, is everyone’s favorite beach sport – volleyball – which starts up in June.  Chopper Trading will be represented by two teams that will play in the Wednesday night league games held at Oak Street Beach. To distinguish between them, one team has donned the name Chopper Traders, and the other is Chopper Developers. I’m told that one week, our two teams will face off against each other. I’m certain this will generate some healthy internal rivalry! I hope to see both teams make it to the playoffs this year, which would make for a great game for our players and probably an even better spectacle for their colleagues.

Overall, I think we’re all looking forward to a great summer here at Chopper Trading, both in terms of team work and team play!

For updates on Chopper Trading activity, follow Raj Fernando on Twitter.

Chopper Trading at the 2014 JP Morgan Corporate Challenge

Right before Memorial Day Weekend, as we are gearing up for summer, the 33rd JP Morgan Corporate Challenge presented an opportunity for employees to represent Chopper Trading at one of the most popular corporate competitions of the year.  This annual 3.5-mile challenge is both a foot race between teams representing Chicago area businesses, and a fundraiser for a Chicago area charity.  Proceeds from this year’s race went to Get IN Chicago, a program that provides mentoring, cognitive/behavioral therapy, and parent leadership services to at-risk youth and their families in Chicago.

Competition was steep at this year’s sold out event. Chopper Trading was well represented, with 24 employees, amongst the 25,192 total participants that toed the line in Grant Park after work on May 22.  Chopper’s fastest runner completed the race in 23 minutes and 34 seconds, with two of our other runners close behind him.  Overall, Chopper had a strong showing against the nearly 600 participating companies represented in the race, including a number of industry peers.

More important than individual successes and team standings, is the support and camaraderie demonstrated by my colleagues at the race. The support they give each other during a competition is reflected in the support they give each other in the office, and helps to ensure Chopper’s success on a daily basis.  Whether it’s a race, a basketball game, or a hard day at work, Chopper Trading employees make a great team.

For more updates, “Like” Raj Fernando on Facebook.

Chopper Trading Intramural Sports Update

While the notorious Chicago winter is only now beginning to release its grip on the city, our Chopper Trading intramural teams have been anywhere but hunkered down in hibernation! On the contrary, quite a few employees have been taking advantage of the great indoors in order to stay active this winter.

For example, Chopper’s employee basketball team successfully made it to the play offs this year.  As triumphant as they were during the season, the “Chopper Bucket Fills” unfortunately experienced uncharacteristically low shooting performance in the play offs.  That said, they’re confident they will bounce back for a winning streak next season.

In the realm of e-sports, the Chopper team did very well and placed sixth out of 24 teams in Division 1.  With the regular season completed, Chopper’s team will be participating the weekend of April 19-20 in the B-League playoff bracket – comprised of peers from some of the largest technology companies around the country – and playing for a pot of $1k for charity.

For those willing to brave the cold in preparation of milder weather, the Chopper soccer team has gotten rolling.  Every Monday night, a group of our employees are out at Lincoln Park to take advantage of the turf field.  In true Chopper fashion – I did name our company after my dog and we’re big supporters of pet philanthropic efforts – one of the players occasionally brings her dog, Oliver, to support the team.  In a few weeks, our company softball team will also be playing at Lincoln Park one night per week.

By June, all of us will – hopefully – be enjoying the summer weather, and Chopper employees will be kicking off their shoes for beach volleyball.  As one of the more popular sports around this office, Chopper usually has about three teams playing between leagues at Oak Street Beach and North Avenue Beach.

 

For more updates, “Like” Raj Fernando on Facebook.

Chopper Trading at Mardi for a Cure

Two weeks ago a group of Chopper employees complemented our sponsorship of the Mardi for a Cure gala by attending the event, which supports a great cause while celebrating Carnival season.  The event was hosted by Friends for a Cure of Diabetes, which is a charity dedicated to raising money to fund clinical and bench research at the University of Chicago Kovler Diabetes Center.  According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes.  Without help from organizations like Friends for a Cure, new technologies would take many more years to develop and reach the people who need them most.

In addition to creating an enjoyable evening, the Friends for a Cure team achieved its most successful event ever.  There were more than 600 people in attendance – an excellent turnout especially considering the snow – and auction items brought in over $425,000 for the charity.  The auction included a wide selection of valuable and interesting items and services like a canine spa day, tickets to the skybox at a Cubs game, and getaways to exotic places like Carbarete, Dominican Republic; the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean; and the Mediterranean.  The evening was a valiant effort to benefit a cause that affects so many people.

 

For more updates, “Like” Raj Fernando on Facebook.

Chopper Trading E-Sports Team

Some of our employees here at Chopper Trading have found a way to apply their hobby of playing video games to further a philanthropic initiative.

Chopper Trading has joined an E-Sports After-Hours League, in which participants raise money from sponsors to compete in a video-game tournament; this approach is similar to gathering sponsors for a marathon or overnight charity walk.  The Chopper Trading team is comprised of approximately 10 of our traders and developers, and this season they will compete against 50 teams from tech companies around the country, including industry giants like Amazon, Google, and Twitter.

This is another great way our firm can give back to the community.  Most of the money raised in sponsorships by each team will go to a charity of that team’s choice.  Chopper Trading’s sponsorship money will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters, the nation’s largest donor and volunteer supported mentoring network.  This non-profit has enabled the success of thousands of children around the country by matching them each with an adult mentor who can act as both a friend and an invaluable source of advice and guidance. Chopper already has a fantastic, established relationship with BBBS and we hope that our E-Sports program will only strengthen it.

While the E-Sports season has just started, I couldn’t be more pleased with members of the firm finding a way to make their hobby benefit the larger community!

CEO Raj Fernando believes in social responsibility and strong community involvement for Chopper Trading.  Connect with Raj Fernando on LinkedIn to learn more about the organizations he supports.

Chopper Trading Intramural Basketball

While I am typically more excited about watching versus playing sports, a group of Chopper Trading employees enjoy a game of basketball every now and then, and together they participate in a basketball league organized by Chicago Sport and Social.  With a team of about 15 players, these guys are veterans to the league. Their team name is “Chopper Bucket Fills,” which is a word play on a trading term.  Our first game of the season kicks off this week. With seven games in the season, and potentially, three play-off games, these guys deserve kudos for making the effort to show up for games and keep the team going during this tough winter weather.

Employee participation in sports leagues is a way to raise awareness about the Chopper Trading brand in the Chicago area.  When our employees go out, get involved in the community, and engage with other organizations while carrying the Chopper Trading name, it shows that Chopper Trading isn’t just a company that sits idly in Chicago; it’s a company that weaves itself into the fabric of our city and the community.

Chopper Trading Holiday Party 2013

Our annual holiday party is a way to wish Chopper employees the very best for their holiday season. It brings the entire team together with friends and family to enjoy each other’s company, and to enjoy a crucial component of any holiday festivity: delicious food. We had a lively dinner, drinks, conversation and a band – Maggie Speaks – that encouraged people to get up and out of their chairs to dance.

The closing of the year reminds us to thank our fellow Chopper team members for their hard work, and tremendous growth and improvement that they have demonstrated throughout 2013 – even though their efforts have been appreciated every day. I have said it before and I’ll say it again; I am so proud to work with some of the smartest, hardest-working individuals in the industry.

Happy holidays to all!

2013 Chopper Trading Holiday Party | See more event photos on Raj Fernando’s Flickr photostream 

Raj Fernando Attends Clinton Global Initiative 2013 Annual Meeting

For many years now, I have attended the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting to show my support for the organization’s ground-breaking philanthropic initiatives.  This annual meeting is one of the most dynamic events I attend all year, and I am always inspired by the accomplishments that are showcased.

The purpose of CGI is to convene global leaders from across the political and economic spectrum to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. To date, the initiative has spurred investments and donations for philanthropic causes valued at nearly $90 billion dollars.

The annual meeting is a time to identify priorities for the year ahead, encourage discussion between global leaders, and, to rally CGI members.  Held in New York, the theme of the 2013 conference was “Mobilizing for Impact.” Lectures and meetings focused on empowering organizations to tap into their potential, as well as women as leaders, and youth through education.

This year I learned that CGI-facilitated projects will provide for two million girls around the world to enroll in school, nearly 12 million children to receive a better education, and more than $7 billion to be invested in or loaned to small- and medium-sized businesses.  I’m honored to be a member of CGI and I look forward to continuing to support this organization’s remarkable accomplishments.

Raj Fernando

Raj Fernando at the 2012 CGI Annual Meeting | View more photos from the 2012 CGI Meeting on Raj Fernando’s Flickr photostream