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  Samuel J. Coady '02
Samuel J. Coady '02

Alumni Profile: Samuel J. Coady '02

Let the games begin!

By Raksha Varma

"Work hard, play hard" is no clich´┐Ż to Samuel J. Coady '02 (EMP-50).

Coady's passion is put to the test every day at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, where he is director of corporate finance, responsible for managing a team focused on competitive analysis, mergers and acquisitions, and joint venture work.

"Life is more satisfying when one discovers that it isn't just about what you do from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.," says Coady, 40. "Discovering and pursing one's passions is the key to a full, happy life."

Outside the office, the Kellogg School Executive MBA graduate's enthusiasm for sports is evident in his contribution to the Gay Games VII – Chicago 2006, a sports and cultural festival that celebrates the founding principles of participation, inclusion and personal best. Coady serves as co-chair of the board of directors.

"One misconception is that, because of the word 'gay' in its name, the Gay Games are only for gay people; in fact, the games are not just a gay thing, but a human thing. The games are about irradiating stereotypes, eliminating prejudice and celebrating one's passion for sport or culture," he says.

Originally from Ames, Iowa, Coady attended DePaul University, where he graduated in 1990 with a commerce degree. Armed with a zeal for travel and an interest in commerce, he accepted a position in the internal audit department of The Quaker Oats Co.

"The international business world was what drew me to Quaker," says Coady, who traveled to Europe and South America while working at the firm, providing eclectic business experience.

After nearly a decade in audit and finance at Quaker, he was ready to embrace new challenges, which arrived in the form of Whittman-Hart, an Internet consulting firm that went public in 1996. There, Coady served as a vice-president of strategic finance.

"I had an opportunity to further develop my finance skills in a high-growth industry through evaluating joint venture and partnership growth opportunities," he says, adding that the firm had 40 percent sales growth annually during the first four years after becoming a public company. Whittman-Hart eventually succumbed to the widespread tech bust in 2001.

While at Whittman-Hart, Coady embarked for the Kellogg School where he graduated from the Executive MBA program in 2002. "The program taught me to keep my contacts strong and that teams create better results than individuals," says Coady.

In 2001, Coady accepted a position at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) in corporate finance. The 107-year-old Chicago-based futures and options exchange that started trading "butter and eggs" has grown into a public firm that has facilitated the trading and clearing of more than 800 million futures contracts annually representing a notional value of over $463 trillion.

"I am surrounded by a dynamic group of colleagues who keep me learning and challenged. Having motivated, sharp co-workers has made CME a great place to work."

Coady recommends always being willing to learn and challenging yourself to feel comfortable with who you are and what you can contribute. "By operating from a position of selflessness, integrity and intellect, you become better equipped to make sound decisions," he says.

The seventh annual Gay Games are scheduled for July 15-22, 2006, in Chicago. The games are expected to have more than 12,000 participants from 70 countries. With opening ceremonies at Soldier Field and closing ceremonies at Wrigley Field, the games plan to offer 30 sports and contribute at least $75 million to the city.

"Northwestern University has been a great partner to Gay Games VII with over 2,000 athletes expected to compete in six sports on the Evanston campus," Coady notes.

"Chicago and Northwestern University — by virtue of their rich sports traditions, strong corporate community support and celebration of diversity — are the perfect hosts for the games," says Coady, whose basketball team placed fourth when they competed in the 1994 Gay Games in New York City. "In 1994, walking into Yankee Stadium with over 40,000 cheering you on at closing ceremonies was a life-changing experience. The Gay Games will make people realize that our passions, similarities and common human experiences far outweigh our differences."

Those acquainted with Coady aren't surprised by his fervor.

"Sam works tirelessly on the 2006 Gay Games and combines his passion for sports with thoughtful and success-driven business sense," says Bernadette Birt, associate director of student affairs at the Kellogg School's Executive MBA office.

"I see Sam as a consummate leader who stands tall and speaks up for what he believes in."

©2002 Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University