Chopper Trading’s Annual Golf Outing

Every fall I look forward to Chopper Trading’s annual golf outing, and I was not disappointed this year.  Held at the Oakbrook Hills Marriott Golf Club, we were able to enjoy some of the nicest weather Chicago has had all year: 70 degrees and sunny.  I think my colleagues here at Chopper would agree that there is nothing like 18 holes of golf on a gorgeous day, to unwind after long hours at the office and further reinforce our “work hard, play hard” attitude.

While all of Chopper’s team members are highly talented and experts in their profession, some of us have spent more time on the green than others, so we decided to play a scramble format amongst the 72 participants. In the spirit of good sportsmanship I won’t mention who won – everyone had a great time, which is incentive enough!

And of course, as with any fun sporting event, good food is essential; the “19th hole” included delicious Illinois barbecue to refuel and cap off a great day!

Raj Fernando Hosts Fundraiser For Louis’ Groceries

This October, I hosted an event to help a first-of-its-kind local non-profit, Louis’ Groceries. Louis’ Groceries is striving to eradicate food deserts, which are communities where residents don’t have access to affordable healthy food.  Its mission is to make sure that the residents of Grand Crossing, Ill., a lower-income and hardworking area, are getting enough of the foods that are both good tasting and good for them. Louis’ Groceries also aims to develop a business model that will enable neighborhood corner stores to successfully retail fresh, healthy foods in food deserts throughout Illinois, or even the country.

Since opening in 2012, Louis’ Groceries has been selling fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy products at low prices. It has also been teaching local residents how to prepare wholesome, easy and affordable meals, to help them develop essential cooking skills that work for busy schedules. By making healthy foods more accessible, the hope is that low-income residents will be able to eat more food that is nutrient dense, and less fattening, thus lowering obesity and diabetes rates.

To support the importance of healthy food, Louis’ Groceries invited six top Chefs from around Chicago to prepare locally sourced and appetizing food samples for the recent fundraiser at my home.  Among the chefs were:

  • Richie Farina, Sous Chef at Moto Restaurant, and a “Top Chef” contestant during the show’s ninth season.
  • Matt Eversman, Chef/Partner at OON, who opened his own restaurant at the age of 28 and has since developed a reputation as one of  the city’s best.
  • Tom Van Lente and Kevin Cuddihee, Head Chefs at TWO Restaurant and Bar, who have a unique culinary style inspired by their commitment to local ingredients, which they showcase in their work.
  • Mark Sparacino, Chef from Prosecco, who is well-known and experienced, and brought his Italian recipes to the table at the fundraiser.
  • Last but not least, Courtney Lance, Louis’ Groceries own Chef, prepared healthy and delicious sandwiches that her customers can learn how to make in the store.

With the help of our incredible chef participants, we were able to raise $100,000.00 for Louis’ Groceries. Thank you to everyone who attended, and contributed to the effort!.

Chopper Trading Sponsors Chukkers for Charity

Once again, Chopper Trading was proud to sponsor the 11th annual Chukkers for Charity on September 7, hosted by the Rotary Club of Oswego.  The Rotary Club of Oswego uses this Charity polo match to raise money to support local and international health, humanitarian and educational needs.  Proceeds from the event will help to fund well-known projects such as Polio Eradication Worldwide, Water Wells in Haiti, Owens Family YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, and CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Kendall County.  The Rotary Club of Oswego also supports a number of children’s sports teams and other organizations in the area such as Kendall County homeless shelters and scholarship programs for the local community college.

With approximately 400 attendees from regions all over northern Illinois, the polo match was an opportunity for Chopper Trading to contribute and connect with the local community and carry on a sport with an extensive heritage in the greater Chicago area.  Steeped in traditions that date back hundreds of years, polo is an exciting sport that attracts people from all walks of life to enjoy good food and great company.  We are glad to know that our sponsorship helped the Rotary Club of Oswego carry on these traditions, and will enable them to help make a difference in people’s lives throughout the community and around the world.

Chopper Trading at the Brookfield Zoo

A company is only as good as its employees, which is why here at Chopper, we work to build the strongest, most cohesive team possible. At Chopper we believe that every member of our team must find a way to balance work with personal life, which for many team members, means spending time with their families.  In an effort to encourage this, we recently organized an outing that included Chopper Trading team members, as well as their spouses and children.

For the nearly 200 employees, spouses, and children who expressed interest, Chopper provided free parking, admission, special exhibit passes, an interactive session with program animals, and a catered BBQ lunch so that our employees and their families could enjoy the Brookfield Zoo, in Brookfield, Ill., near Chicago.

With all sorts of animals from aardvarks to stingrays, it seemed impossible for the children not to find at least one favorite animal. While baby animals – like the recently born giraffe – were certainly a hit, the dolphins were by far the most popular.  The Seven Seas exhibit featured both a dolphin show and an underwater viewing area where the children were able to see the dolphins up close. This particular exhibit at Brookfield Zoo is a part of the world’s longest running and best-documented study of the dolphin population.

Overall, our trip to the zoo served the dual purpose of showing support and gratitude to the families of Chopper employees, and contributing to conservation efforts. The Chicago Zoological Society is a world leader in conservation; their programs help animals both inside and outside of the zoo grounds.

After seeing how much families appreciated this outing, and how successfully a trip like this can reinforce positive relationships that transfer over to the workplace, this trip to Brookfield may just become a company tradition!

Chopper Trading at the 2013 Chicago Corporate Challenge

Summer in Chicago is perhaps best characterized as a cherished respite from otherwise harsh weather that typically drives residents indoors nine months out of the year.  Chopper Trading always takes advantage of these moderate months to reinforce our company’s culture of good health, strong work ethic, and positive teamwork, while contributing to a commendable cause.

This year, to kick off the summer, 16 Chopper employees participated in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge, a 3.5 mile race that winds its way through the parks and sidewalks of Chicago.  The event was extremely successful, with 23,030 participants from 628 companies toeing the starting line at Grant Park the evening of Thursday, May 23.

While creating a sense of camaraderie amongst Chicago-based professionals, for Chopper employees, this event was also a time to reinforce our culture of teamwork.  My hope is that the support and encouragement displayed at the race will translate over to support and encouragement for each other’s work, and continue to strengthen the collaborative atmosphere here at Chopper.

The J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge was also a great way to contribute to a charitable cause that is familiar to many Americans: the American Red Cross.  Not only did the American Red Cross receive funds, but they seized the opportunity to show tens of thousands of local Chicago residents the important role the Red Cross plays in helping victims of home fires, war veterans, and other Chicago residents in need.  Chopper Trading was proud to contribute, and of course, proud to see our employees beat several of our race competitors!

Chopper Trading at Golf for the Bear

When we – as a company – choose to sponsor an event or charity, we try to find a cause or organization that benefits the local Chicago community and has meaning to our team here at Chopper.  Since Chopper Trading shares the city of Chicago with one of the best pediatric cancer hospitals in the country, sponsoring the 2013 Golf for the Bear tournament was a perfect fit!

The golf outing benefited the Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, which supports pediatric cancer research and pediatric care facilities through grants.  The organization also strives to brighten the lives of child cancer patients by giving them “bear hugs”; these are customized support experiences that fulfill a wish of the child, and provide the family with immediate financial support, in addition to any other essential needs.

On June 13, three Chopper Trading employees volunteered to represent our firm, by presenting Bear Necessities with, what we hope will be, a helpful contribution. The trio also enjoyed a spectacular round of golf and a celebratory dinner at the Ruffled Feathers Golf Club in Lemont, Ill., just outside of Chicago.  We could not have asked for better weather, or for a better reason to spend a day outdoors.

Chopper Trading and Intramural Volleyball:

The most popular sport that we participate in, as a company, is volleyball.  At any given match, there are almost two dozen Chopper team members taking to the beach. Interest is so high, in fact, that we have created three teams this season, however each team shares the same name – the Chopper Rough Sets. Of course, part of the appeal is that Chicago summers are so beautiful and they provide the perfect weather for being outside and active, especially after working a full day inside an office.

Intramural sports, such as volleyball, provide all of us with an opportunity to get up from the computer and have some fun – along with a little competition – with our fellow teammates, while enjoying being active and exercising in the beautiful city of Chicago.

The video below gives a brief look into what summer at Chopper and in Chicago is like, including some of the various activities available to residents and tourists alike. Check it out!

Chopper Trading and Intramural Softball

We are always striving to improve ourselves and excel in all that we do at Chopper Trading, both in the office and out. Corporate activities and outings, such as intramural sports, are an integral part of how we do this and our firm participates in a multitude of sports, including softball.

The Chopper softball team consists of 14 employees who are passionate about the game. Like our soccer team, our softball team also participates in the Chicago Sport and Social league and we play many of our games against other firms and friends in downtown Chicago.

The team’s secret to success is no practice! In all seriousness, the Chopper Warrior Poets never practice. The players often expend tremendous energy at work, and so the game is a way for them to relax, have fun and socialize.

The Warrior Poets’ season has concluded for the year, although they are very much looking forward to getting back out onto the field, to kick off the 2014 season. Hopefully we’ll see you out there next spring!

Raj Fernando Participant in CGI America Annual Meeting

I am honored to have had the opportunity to attend the third meeting of CGI America last month. It’s an annual event that gathers thought leaders and various experts to work towards finding solutions that promote economic recovery in the United States. Host President Clinton brought together nearly a thousand leaders from varying businesses, foundations, NGOs, and government sectors with the intention of working together to find alternative solutions for the critical issues currently facing the United States. As a participant in the conference I was able to contribute my own perspective on various issues and topics within these discussions.

The impact of CGI America’s commitment is large and covers a range of issues.  At the conference we learned that, when fully funded and implemented, CGI provides STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) education opportunities for over 200,000 students, creates more than 10,000 jobs, and it reclaims 1.2 million metric tons of greenhouse gases through energy efficiency efforts and projects.

The impact of CGI America is great and is bringing positive change to the business, energy, and educational sectors in the United States. I am honored to be a member of CGI in continuing to improve the lives of others, around the world. For more information about the CGI initiatives discussed at the third annual meeting, please visit CGI’s website: http://www.cgiamerica.org/

Chopper Trading and Intramural Soccer

At Chopper Trading, we create an environment for our teams to work well together inside and outside of the office.  To that point, we have designated an Intramural Captain to organize all of our intramural sports. Our team is registered through a local event organizer, Chicago Sport and Social. The league is primarily men and women looking for a fun and competitive outlet to participate in, outside of work.

Most of our games are held in Lincoln Park or other downtown Chicago locations. Our longest running and favorite team sport at Chopper is soccer. We recently closed out our fourth spring soccer season with a strong team of 16 employees who led the firm to a successful season with a winning 6-3 record! If you are looking for a way to stay active and be social after work, I encourage you to look into some of the sports and activities that our wonderful city has to offer. And if you’re feeling especially confident, form a soccer team and challenge Chopper out on the soccer field!