Out with Annual Reviews and in with Real Time, Smarter Feedback

“Performance appraisals wouldn’t be the least popular practice in business, as they’re widely believed to be, if something weren’t fundamentally wrong with them.”
-Harvard Business Review

In the past decade, there has been a rapid increase in the number of corporations throwing out the traditional annual employee review process and looking for something new. Companies from all over the world are ditching their outdated systems and replacing them with frequent, informal check-ins between managers and employees. At Scoutahead, our platform is designed to facilitate and improve upon this type of real time feedback where it matters most.

With a system that has been used for over a century, why are so many companies now looking for a new way to conduct performance reviews?

To start, corporations must invest heavily in the time it takes to complete reviews, which includes the mountains of paperwork they generate. Traditional reviews have also been criticized for restricting creativity, innovation, and not promoting a collaborative team-focused environment. Not to mention the supervisors and subordinates disdain for the appraisal process.

The Harvard Business Review piece, “The Performance Management Revolution,” gathered the following business imperatives that are leading companies to abandon performance appraisals:

  • In order to better their talent management efforts, companies have begun to put more of a focus on staff development. Firms are putting more employees in charge of their own growth, which is fueled by frequent, rich feedback from supervisors.
  • Business strategies are more focused on innovation, and future needs are continuously changing. Businesses no longer have clear annual cycles, projects have become short-term, and goals tend to change frequently, making annual assessments of work outdated and

In short, the traditional performance appraisal no longer make sense for the majority of businesses. HR information systems have started to adapt by moving annual appraisals online but they haven’t been designed to accommodate continuous feedback that positively engages their employees. Scoutahead fills that gap by providing a platform that facilitates employee participation in determining their own evaluation criteria and also enables them to solicit continuous feedback from their colleagues prior to their formal review. In this way, Scoutahead provides a next-generation platform that allows employees to take charge of their own growth, real-time.

To learn more, follow Scoutahead on Twitter.

Chicago: The Great American Startup Town No One Talks About

Source: Flickr

Source: Flickr

If New York City is the finance capital…

And San Francisco is teeming with tech talent…

While Los Angeles is known as the hub of Hollywood…

What does that make Chicago?

We’re a city that’s outgrown our traditional transportation identity.

Sure, we’re still a critical nexus connecting the East Coast to the West, Connecticut to California; but as a serial entrepreneur who calls the Windy City home, I’ve seen for myself and would argue to anyone … we’re also so much more.

Consider the following:

There’s a reason why increasing numbers of startups – including my own – are making the strategic choice to call Chicago home.

Namely, a healthy, diverse ecosystem of business, big and small, that supports one another other.

Larger institutions invest in the agility, creative thinking, and potential of their smaller counterparts as a way to give them an edge over entrenched industry players. Because from banking to Boeing, IT to fashion, we all need upstarts to push the envelope and push ourselves.

One illustrative example. Scrappy Chicago apparel startup Trunk Club took on fashion powerhouses by being more convenient, more customer-service centric for savvy and reluctant shoppers alike. They paired personal stylists with individuals, and delivered clothing optimized for every consumer’s shape, style, and budget size.

Their success was meteoric – and continues today after being bought by Nordstrom for a formidable $350m sale.

But it’s not only symbiotic relationships that make Chicago’s business landscape so great – it’s our sheer diversity. Where as other cities can cling to one sector, Chicago defies the mold and brings numerous differentiated industries huddled together in one place.

Among the Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the greater Chicago area: United Airlines, Allstate Insurance, McDonald’s, Exelon, Motorola, Kraft Foods, Sears, Walgreens- from healthcare to technology, I could go on, and on.

Here’s what I can say from personal experience: what makes Chicago a great place to live and work is that this is a city that brings people, professionals, and businesses – from all walks of life – together.

What makes us different, makes us complementary, makes us stronger.

Chicago has an energy that all it’s own, one that you can’t easily summarize or quickly stereotype.

It’s the startup town no one is talking about, but probably should.

Futures Industry Association Annual Meeting 2013

Earlier this month, the Futures Industry Association (FIA) hosted its annual meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., enabling senior derivatives professionals, legislators, regulators and reporters to gather and generate a thoughtful and impactful conversation that creates positive influences for our industry. The discussions for the last three years have been centered on financial reform and Washington’s increased interest in financial markets.

The FIA is the trade organization for the futures, options and OTC cleared derivatives markets. Chopper is a member of the FIA Principal Traders Group (FIA PTG), which is affiliated with the FIA, and presents a forum for firms trading their own capital to identify and discuss issues confronting their community.

We look forward to attending select FIA upcoming events.

Raj Fernando Invited to Chicago History Fair’s 35th Anniversary Dinner

I was recently invited by a longtime colleague and good friend, to attend the Chicago History Fair’s 35th Anniversary Dinner. This event was hosted by the Chicago Metro History Education Center (CMHEC), which works to improve history education in middle and high school classrooms in Chicago and its suburbs. CMHEC offers programs throughout the year for teachers and students that support project-based, inquiry methods of learning history. The organization’s signature program, Chicago Metro History Fair, is an annual competition in which local students present their own historical research projects on topics relevant to Chicago.

It was inspiring to attend such an event and observe the dedication and passion for learning and discovery that the students demonstrated in their work towards becoming a student historian. The skills required for success in the History Fair, I believe, transcend the classroom and will prepare the students for achievement in whichever endeavors they choose to pursue in their lives.

I am a firm believer in providing equal access to a quality education and supporting your local community. For these reasons, I was happy to have been invited to this event and presented with the chance to support a cause that I believe in so strongly.


Chess at Chopper Trading

At Chopper, we balance our serious commitment to our work with an equal but lighthearted focus on activities off of the trading floor. One of those activities is the Chopper Trading Chess Team, which is currently halfway into the season, and making a final push to qualify for the playoffs.

The team competes in the Chicago Industrial Chess League as a member of the East division. Chopper’s division is comprised of 10 teams mostly from local companies in the financial and healthcare industries, as well as Loyola and Northwestern Universities. The Industrial Chess League’s regular season runs from October through early April, at which point the qualifying teams enter the playoffs. Chopper currently ranks in third place, behind Northwestern (first) and Blue Cross Blue Shield (second).

The team was founded by two Chopper employees, who, lucky for us, brought their competitive chess experience and knowledge to the firm from their college chess teams. The founders have talked to the team about how they see a strong relationship between trading and chess, as both require preparation, discipline, objective reasoning, passion, and drive.  I couldn’t agree more, and they certainly make a good case, as the team’s eight-person roster includes five of our active traders.

Regardless of the activity: trading, chess, soccer, etc., the team at Chopper believes in pursuing success through hard work, strong ethics and a collaborative environment.


Careers at Chopper Trading

Chopper Trading is a technology based proprietary trading firm that is at the forefront of a fast-paced, intense and challenging industry. In order to compete against the best and the brightest, all of us at Chopper need to be even better! Our firm is composed of intelligent, forward-thinking, responsible individuals that are committed to furthering the success and growth that Chopper is experiencing.

Chopper operates as a true team-oriented culture, where each member is looked upon to contribute and their opinions and views are respected. I am truly dedicated to being as accessible as possible to all of my teammates, and ensuring that open lines of communication are constantly maintained. Our work is demanding, however, we keep things balanced by encouraging everyone on the team to enjoy where they work. The halls of our offices regularly echo with laughter and excitement from chess matches and intramural activities.

Our firm offers an industry-leading package of benefits that is matched only by our commitment to social responsibility. Chopper regularly sponsors and volunteers at local charities such as The Boys and Girls Club of Chicago, PAWS and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Having an awareness of your local community, in addition to being able to positively contribute to it is a principle that we strive to emulate, here at Chopper.

We encourage anyone that is interested in hearing more about potential opportunities at Chopper, to please visit our Careers page to see what openings are currently available. Also, like us on Facebook as we are regularly updating our profile with the dates of our Campus Visits.

Come check us out!

Chopper Trading and the Clinton Global Initiative

Having access to a quality education is a right that every child should have, no matter their circumstances. A solid education empowers a child to make informed decisions and it opens doors to opportunities that otherwise would have been inaccessible.

This is a core belief of mine, which is why I have joined with the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to help support Building Tomorrow (BT). BT envisions a world where every child with a desire to learn has a safe, permanent and local place to do so. Working towards this goal, BT empowers young people to invest their resources, time and talents in providing underserved children in sub-Saharan Africa with access to a quality education.

It gives me a great sense of pride to be able to partner with CGI in continuing to help remove barriers and provide a quality educational structure for the students of East Africa.

For more information about Building Tomorrow and the Clinton Global Initiative, visit their websites:

Clinton Global Initiative


Building Tomorrow




Chopper Trading and the Boy & Girls Club of Chicago

The Boys & Girls Club of Chicago (BGCC) is one of the nonprofit organizations that we have developed a relationship with over the years. We recognize the importance of mentors in the lives of youth, and as such, we have found a way to help guide them to reach their full potential.

Every other Thursday, Chopper Trading employees open the doors of our office to middle school students in the BGCC. We help them with their homework and school projects, play games in our company’s game room, and sometimes we’ll just catch up over pizza. By sharing their time and knowledge, Chopper employees are able to create a safe, educational and structured environment for the BGCC students to continue their development as productive, responsible and caring citizens.

We are proud to be viewed by the BGCC as a team that can provide its young adults with the atmosphere and guidance that they need and want.




Chopper Trading Annual Holiday Dinner

On the eve of Chopper Trading’s annual holiday dinner, I wanted to express my gratitude for all of the hardworking men and women here at Chopper. The team that I have behind me is truly world class and I am proud to call them not only my colleagues, but also my friends.

As we close on another year here at Chopper, I would like to extend my warmest thanks and appreciation to all of our employees. Our dynamic team of individuals is committed to delivering the highest quality of work, while positively contributing to the collaborative environment, which are top priorities of mine and also major factors in Chopper’s success!

Again, I would like to thank everyone at Chopper Trading as we near the end of 2012.