Ringing the Opening Bell at the New York Stock Exchange

Snehal Patil and Guiti Nabavi are directors at Women Who Code Silicon Valley (WWCode-SV). In early January Women Who Code was invited to the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) to ring the opening bell and Snehal and Guiti were there! WWCode-SV director Leann Pereira interviewed them about their experience.

Leann: How did you get invited?

Guiti: I learned that companies that are listed on the stock exchange can visit the NYSE. A nonprofit that is getting traction and doing compelling work can apply online to be selected to ring the bell, which is how Women Who Code was selected.

Snehal: We got an email from Joey Rosenberg, the Head of Worldwide Leadership at Women Who Code, inviting us to go on the Thursday before the Monday event. We had one hour to respond! I responded immediately and texted Guiti to make sure that she saw the invitation.

Guiti: I responded after the one hour deadline. There is limited room on the podium and not everyone could go up there, but just visiting the trading floor was a great opportunity that I didn’t want to miss! We had to book tickets and hotel in a hurry!

Snehal: I had to move everything around! I promised my niece that I would bake her a birthday cake, which is a three day process, and I wanted to keep my commitment to her. We share a special bond and this has been our little tradition. Each year I bake her a cake. She tells me what theme she wants. It’s a five-year tradition now. I have baked a butterfly, a big cupcake cake, Peppa Pig, Elsa from Frozen, and this year she wanted a princess!

Leann: Can we see a picture of the cake?

Snehal: Here it is.

Leann: Wow! You must have been very busy.

Snehal: I baked it after work over 3 nights. I had make the icing, bake the cakes and arrange and decorating it. I had to put in lot of thought about structure of the cake, the flavors of the cake, the filling, the colors to use, the cake pan sizes. I had to buy a doll etc. A lot of planning and scheduling goes in this process. After each stage the cake has to rest in the refrigerator. In the end I managed to bake this beautiful cake for my niece as her birthday gift. Her mom told me she loved the cake. That twinkle in her eyes is worth all the efforts!

At the same time I was assisting a meditation seminar, and so I was going to miss the birthday party because the seminar lasted from Friday night through Sunday, each day for 3 hours. I also had to get a dress for the seminar, so I had to fit that in after work too!

Between all of this, we got confirmations for the trip to the NYSE and I booked my tickets to New York. I was determined to go even though I could not travel before Sunday afternoon. I said to myself “it’s okay. Even if I have to make a round trip to the East in 24 hours, I will go!”

Guiti: My son wanted to come too. He couldn’t visit NYSE, but still wanted to come to New York with me, so I had to plan his trip too. I stayed up on Thursday night until 3am to book air tickets and hotel for me and my son. I booked beautiful room in a hotel facing Hudson river. It had an amazing view!

Leann: I can’t believe how hectic this was, like a movie! (Imitating Snehal) “Sorry Joey, I may be late to the opening bell ceremony because after I check in my code, I have to deliver a Princess cake for my niece, but that’s right before I teach the 3-day meditation seminar.”

Snehal: And then I got ripped off by a fake Uber driver when I arrived in NYC. It was really late and I was tired. When I walked out of the airport, a cabbie asked me if I wanted an Uber. I said yes and he told me he would input the details, which I thought was strange. When we got to the destination, he asked me for my credit card and charged me $225.00! I had to get the issue resolved with my credit card company.

Guiti: I couldn’t wait to come back to the Silicon Valley after a few days of sightseeing with my son. New York seemed busier and a lot smaller than I thought it was going to be, and remembered, and it was dirtier too. It also seemed like one big mall. I think it is really hyped for the tourists, but visiting the NYSE was amazing.

We left the hotel to make it to the NYSE to ring the morning bell on Monday around 8. When we arrived there was a nice reception waiting for us in what looked like an 1800s ballroom. Everyone was taking pictures. There was a marble sculpture that was given as a gift by Russia, and a big clock that was used to time ringing of the bell in the old days.

Snehal: We needed to produce a government ID to get in. They had very formal-looking nametags prepared for us.

Leann: Can we see?

Snehal: Here. The little blue sticker on my nametag means that I can go up on the podium.

The Women Who Code logo was everywhere and lighted up in blue.

Guiti: The trading floor was not very crowded because everything was computerized. Everyone who rings the bell gets to sign-in on the register. Alaina, our CEO signed in.

Snehal: She’s a really down-to-earth-person.

Guiti: I just had to take a picture at the podium!

Snehal: When it was time to ring the bell, many of us were escorted to the podium. Women Who Code had representatives from Atlanta, the Philippines, advisors from VMWare in California were with us, and people from all over the world. The WWCode-London director had managed to come to New York too.They were also very deliberate about ringing the bell. You can’t push the button too soon, too late, or too long!

Leann: Wow, sounds amazing.

Snehal: After ringing the bell, we got to sign our name on a wall behind the podium. This is Joey signing the wall.

Snehal: And here is my signature.

Guiti: Afterwards we all went for lunch at a Japanese ramen noodle restaurant. It was a really good time.

Leann: Thank you for sharing your experience with us.

Shehal and Guiti: You’re welcome.

Snehal Patil and Guiti Nabavi are both founding directors at Women Who Code Silicon-Valley chapter. Snehal works at Yahoo! as a mobile engineer. Guiti is the founder of Startup Wonder, a summer camp for kids and teens interested in learning about entrepreneurism, and can be found online at www.startupwonder.com.