Margery Teller: From Trader to Fundraiser for Juvenille Diabetes
Margery Teller is a former Chicago Mercantile Exchange trader known for her ability to project her voice above the commotion of the trading floor. Origin Principal Michael Episcope recalls working alongside Teller: “We were fierce competitors on the floor, and I never really got to know the other side of her until years after we’d both left the [CME].”
Teller, an investor with Origin since Fund I, has found other arenas for her fighting spirit since leaving the trading pit.
“Margie has a big heart. She has been a champion of curing juvenile diabetes, she is a loyal friend and someone who truly takes interest in the things that matter in this world. She always has a smile on her face, and it’s an honor to call her a friend” says Episcope.
In this candid interview, Teller talks about her career, her next projects and the $3 million she raised to find a cure for juvenile diabetes, a disease that has touched her family.
Q. What was it like being one of the few women working in the now-shuttered CME trading pit?
A. I started in the pit when I was 23 years old and the guys picked on me just like any other newcomer. They looked for your weakness and then teased you about it. But once they had found it, they moved on. My main disadvantage was my size — I was smaller than the men around me. However, I had a much higher voice and soon they recognized me by my voice. It turned out to be a great asset.
Q. You retired from trading four times. What did it take for you to finally step away?
A. Trading is a very addictive business and there is nothing that can replace it. I kept going back until it became clear to me that technology had changed the entire industry and that that sort of lifestyle would never exist again. Today the markets are never closed and you don’t know where you are executing the trade or who you are executing the trade against — it could be someone in London or Singapore. When I was trading, we had a responsibility to the markets. There is no one who has that same responsibility today.
Q. Fellow traders were among the first people to circle around you when your daughter was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes in 1997. Tell us about your crusade to find a cure for the disease.
A. Rachel was only 18 months old at the time of her diagnosis and it was just a horrendous experience. She could barely talk and so she couldn’t tell us what was wrong. Back then diabetes testing was more rudimentary — there were many needle pricks and more blood was needed to test blood-sugar levels. Also, there was no short-acting insulin for kids so we had to essentially match her eating with her insulin doses. Trying to manage my daughter’s health needs opened my eyes to how hard it could be for someone without the same resources that I had. That was how I got started raising money for diabetes research — I wanted to find a cure for Rachel and for all the other kids. Some friends and I went on to create Friends for a Cure, a non-profit dedicated to raising funds for juvenile diabetes research. In over 9 years we raised $3 million.
Q. Where is Rachel today?
A. She’s at Brown University studying Computer Science and English with an eye on becoming an entrepreneur. I have tried to teach her that every challenge in life is just an experience to learn more about yourself and the world in which we live. I feel sorry for people who have never had a challenge and who don’t know how to adapt. I know that Rachel can get through anything.
Q. What’s your next act?
A. I just finished writing a novel about the trading floor and I’m working on a TV pilot. I am hoping that through these two projects I can keep the history of the trading pit, and the people who worked in it, alive for those who will never experience it.
Q&As are edited for length and clarity.