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Street Smarts

Marshall Carter, MA ’76, leans forward as he busily sketches a grid with the word “technology” on one axis, and “policy” on the other. As he completes the sketch, he labels the grid’s four squares with the words “ready” and “not ready” along each axis. Pointing to the grid with his pen, he explains that U.S. society is poised to accept some ideas but not others. Hybrid cars, for example, fall into the ready box on both axes. Stem cell research, in contrast, is in the ready box technologically but not politically.

Carter’s eagerness to demonstrate the convergence of policy and technology is contagious. It reveals his keen intelligence and ardent interest in policy making and its influence on technology—in fact, Carter may have been a policy wonk before the term became popular. Carter’s passion for both fields makes him well suited for his current position as chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.

A former student of technology and public policy, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, a Marine Corps officer, and a leader in the banking industry, Carter was appointed to the prestigious post in April 2005. As chairman, he has several key roles: He manages the Board of Directors and serves as a liaison between the board and the CEO, engages in strategic planning, and assists with outside constituencies, such as Congress and the Securities Exchange Commission.

Always on the cutting edge of technology himself, Carter’s goals for the Exchange include enhancing its capacity for electronic trading and offering a broader range of products beyond traditional stocks and bonds. “The New York Stock Exchange is the largest single pool of capital in the world, and this pool must be preserved to ensure the competitiveness of the United States,” he points out. The Exchange’s planned merger with a smaller company called Archipelago, in operation since 1997, may help. Archipelago currently owns the Pacific Stock Exchange, and the small company is well versed in electronic trading, a strength it will bring to the more traditional NYSE.

Carter graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1962 with a bachelor’s degree in military science. He then served as a Marine Corps officer for 14 years, completing two tours in Vietnam and receiving a Purple Heart, the Navy Cross, and the Bronze Star for acts of bravery and heroism. In between his two tours of duty, he received a master’s degree in operations research and systems analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Stationed at the Pentagon after his second tour of duty in Vietnam, Carter decided in the late 1970s to return to school, attending GW at night on the GI Bill. The unique master’s program he chose, which combined science, technology, and public policy, had obvious appeal for him. GW’s Elliott School of International Affairs still offers the program, which has been renamed the Master of Arts in International Science and Technology Policy.

John Logsdon, currently the head of GW’s Space Policy Institute at the Elliott School and a professor of political science and international affairs, remembers Carter from his student days. “Even as a young graduate student, Carter was marked for success,” Logsdon recalls. “He stood out among the other students.”

Carter remembers being impressed with his GW professors, especially Logsdon, whose combination of book smarts and real-world experience made his classes invaluable. “Taking the time to attend classes at GW really paid off in my future,” he says.

So has the many years he spent in the banking industry, including 15 years as a senior vice president at Chase Manhattan Bank and, most recently, nine years as chairman and CEO of State Street Bank and Trust Co. Officially retired from the banking industry since 2001, Carter manages to keep busy. Aside from his work with the NYSE, he is an accomplished pilot who enjoys soaring over New England in his seaplane. He also golfs and enjoys movies: “Anything with Joan Allen—she is a terrific actress,” he says. As if all that is not enough, Carter also lectures at MIT’s Sloan School of Management and was a fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government Center for Public Leadership from 2001 to 2005.

Despite his tremendous professional accomplishments, Carter takes the most pride in his work with the Boston Medical Center. Dedicated philanthropists, Carter and his wife, Missy, are champions of health care for inner-city residents. Carter serves as chairman of the board at the hospital, a position he has held for the past five years.

When asked what prompted him to become so involved, Carter smiles. “My wife and I decided we were more interested in social justice than social climbing.”

It is a fitting comment from a man whose depth of character aligns with his depth of cutting-edge knowledge.

—Raina Lenney