Waves crashed over the seawalls in Manhattan, floodwaters filled subway stations, cars floated through the streets and most of the New York financial district looked like a river. • The horrific damage Superstorm Sandy left in its wake a year ago this week could have paralyzed the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. as it struggled to bring its New York headquarters back to life. But the company charged with handling the post-trade processing of financial transactions for thousands of institutions worldwide continued to function — thanks largely to its team of men and women in its Tampa office. • Tampa's effort wasn't a coincidence. After 9/11, DTCC put a continuity plan in place by opening offices in Tampa and Dallas in 2004. • On the first anniversary of the storm, Marie Chinnici-Everitt, DTCC managing director and chief marketing officer, reflected on the success of the company's continuity plan as she prepared to relocate to Tampa. • The company's decision to place a senior executive like Chinnici-Everitt in Tampa speaks volumes about the company's continued investment in its New Tampa office, where it employs between 600 and 700 people with plans to add another 250 over the next three to five years. • Chinnici-Everitt recently spoke with Tampa Bay Times columnist Ernest Hooper about the impact of the storm and her move to Tampa.
Tell me about the role DTCC's Tampa office played in keeping DTCC on track after the storm.
We knew the storm was coming a few days ahead of time, so we started implementing our business continuity plan. We realized that Sunday leading into Monday we were not going to be able to open our office in New York, but we had trades in the process of clearing and settling. So we implemented our business continuity plan in Tampa and Dallas . . . Tampa basically ran the entire operation.
How many days did the Tampa office handle the operation?
Our main office at 55 Water St. was down for weeks. We were up and operating from our Brooklyn location Wednesday, but Tampa was still really doing much of the operation. Many of our New York employees were affected personally. They were without power or had damage to homes. Tampa was an integral part of operation for a number of days and weeks. We weren't back into our headquarters locations until well after the new year. We accelerated our move to the Jersey City, N.J., office in December, but Tampa was instrumental keeping our operations going seamlessly. There was not a transaction that was missed.
You've built your career in marketing. What have you learned about effective marketing and effective communications?
I've worked in financial services for about 30 years. I think particularly in times of crisis, it's very import to remain calm and thoughtful and not necessarily react without thinking. The more planning and preplanning you can do, the better. The crisis is going to take on various permutations, but using good judgment, relying on instincts and trusting your team are very critical aspects. I think that applies to any effective business.
How does your role change moving to Tampa?
My role does not change at all. I'll still be the chief marketing officer, just in a different physical location. The move is really about establishing a senior leadership presence in Tampa.
What are your thoughts about relocating to Tampa?
I have quite a few family members that live in southwest Florida, so from a personal perspective, I love Florida and I love spending time with my family. From a professional standpoint, it's a great opportunity. After Hurricane and Superstorm Sandy, this is an opportunity to accelerate our business continuity plan.
What message does your presence send to the Tampa Bay community?
It sends a message that we're very committed to Tampa Bay. The Tampa facility houses all of our main business functions and 20 percent of our total global population. And we're committed to growing in Tampa. The community and the quality of living was one of the main factors in choosing Tampa. Really, as a company, we've found that everything about the Tampa Bay market has facilitated our business. . . . We have the ability to be involved in every aspect of the local community, which makes it very rewarding for our employees. Our slogan is, "Securing today. Shaping tomorrow." Securing today is about mitigating risks and increasing transparency for our operations. Shaping tomorrow is about seeing trends as they're developing and helping our clients manage risks, reduce costs and expenses and ensuring clients have the information they need to manage their businesses properly. . . . We're a unique company and we're proud of our history and the important role we playz as the backbone of the financial industry. It's important to really have support of the people around you and our company really supports its employees.
What's the biggest thing you're looking forward to in Florida?
My husband and I enjoy being outdoors. We love boating and when we've come down to southwest Florida, we've really enjoyed just being on the water. Tampa is such a great location. It's close to the water, but it also has a lot of culture. We're looking forward to the theater and sporting events, and enjoying the best of city life while being exposed to all the city has to offer.
And now that you're moving to Florida, what are you going to do with your winter clothes?
Sunday Conversation is edited for brevity and clarity.