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From BlackRock to Apollo: Meet 15 finance executives shaping the future of crypto

From BlackRock to Apollo: Meet 15 finance executives shaping the future of crypto
Christine Moy, head of digital assets at Apollo Global Management, is one of several TradFi executives shaping crypto in 2024. Credit: Andrés Núñez/DL News.
  • A Who's Who on Wall Street and the City are chasing 'disproportionate returns' in crypto.
  • A Bitcoin ETF and investment in blockchain technology is driving bullish mojo.

“Institutions don’t necessarily only look at the short-term news stories — they look over a longer-term cycle.”

That’s what Usman Ahmad, CEO of Standard Chartered’s Zodia Markets, told DL News recently, commenting on how traditional finance behemoths muscled into crypto in 2023 despite the industry’s scandals.

Meet the players taking that long view and leading the push into digital assets:

Giovanni Vicioso, executive director of equity and alternative products, CME Group

When the CME overtook Binance as the biggest exchange for Bitcoin futures contracts, DL News naturally turned to its head of crypto, Giovanni Vicioso, for some perspective.

He said crypto scandals had driven investors increasingly to regulated exchanges such as the CME.

“There has been this crypto flight to regulated futures contracts,” Vicioso told DL News.

Vicioso joined CME in 2012, according to his LinkedIn profile. He had spent the previous decade or so serving at financial institutions including Deutsche Bank, RBC Capital Markets, and Marco Polo Network.

Duncan Trenholme, managing director, global co-head of digital assets, TP Icap

Duncan Trenholme watched CME’s leapfrogging of Binance with great interest.

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“That was huge. I don’t think that’s talked about enough,” Trenholme told DL News in December. “It points to more traditional financial firms, more institutional firms, wholesale firms, coming into crypto.”

Trenholme has served as TP Icap’s co-head of digital assets since December 2018, per his LinkedIn profile.

Robert Mitchnick, head of digital assets, BlackRock

Robert Mitchnick has been BlackRock’s head of digital assets since 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile.

After graduating from Queen’s University in 2013 with an economics degree, he picked up a masters at MIT, and also co-founded a beer company.

Between 2013 and 2018, he clocked experience working at CPP Investments, a professional investment management organisation. He has also worked as an executive at Ripple, according to Ledger Insights.

BlackRock did not return requests for comment.

Gautam Sharma, CEO and CIO, Brevan Howard Digital

With around $30 billion in assets under management, Brevan Howard is one of the most influential hedge funds in traditional investing. It was an early mover on crypto through its Brevan Howard Digital arm.

In September, Gautam Sharma, the unit’s CEO and CIO, predicted that digital assets would provide “disproportionate returns” in the near future.

“We truly believe that this is a very disruptive technology and it can unlock value in many ways,” Sharma said, according to a Bloomberg report.

Sharma, a chemical engineer by education, was Brevan Howard’s head of principal investments before assuming his current role in 2022, according to his LinkedIn.

Colleen Sullivan, co-head venture, Brevan Howard Digital

When Brevan Howard unveiled plans to push into digital assets in 2021, it picked Colleen Sullivan as its co-head of ventures for the new unit, the Financial Times reported at the time.

Before joining Bevan Howard, Sullivan had served as co-founder and CEO of crypto technology firm CMT Digital. She led that firm from September 2017, according to her LinkedIn profile.

She has a bachelors degree from the University of St. Francis and a juris doctor’s degree from DePaul University College of Law.

Mathew McDermott, global head of digital assets, Goldman Sachs

Mathew McDermott is investment bank Goldman Sachs’ global head of digital assets. Like many on this list, he has spent the past few months being bullish about the prospects of digital assets.

In December, he told Reuters that he expects a “significant uptick” in trading volumes in blockchain-based assets over the next two years.

McDermott joined Goldman Sachs in 2005, according to LinkedIn. He had previously worked at Morgan Stanley as an analyst.

Christine Moy, head of digital assets, Apollo Global Management

Christine Moy is private equity firm Apollo Global Management’s head of digital assets.

Since Moy joined in 2022, Apollo has bought its first mortgage tracked on a blockchain, started to hold crypto for clients, and launched a collaboration with JPMorgan and the Monetary Authority of Singapore to use blockchain to boost wealth management.

Before joining Apollo, she worked for 18 years at JPMorgan Chase. She spearheaded the investment bank’s crypto and metaverse push.

Aaron Iovine, global head of digital assets regulatory policy, JPMorgan Chase & Co

Aaron Iovine joined JPMorgan Chase as its global head of digital assets regulatory policy in October 2022, according to his LinkedIn account.

Before that, he served as head of policy and regulatory affairs at Celsius, the bankrupt crypto lender whose former CEO Alex Mashinsky is facing criminal fraud charges, Reuters reported.

Prior to joining Celsius in February 2022, Iovine worked as the policy and regulatory affairs lead at digital asset-friendly Cross River Bank and as a senior regulatory analyst at the law firm White & Case, according to his LinkedIn.

Umar Farooq, CEO, Onyx by JPMorgan

In October 2020, Umar Farooq became the CEO of Onyx by JPMorgan, the investment bank’s blockchain-based platform for wholesale payments transactions, per his LinkedIn.

Before the promotion, Farooq had spent more than a decade with the bank.

Since then, Farooq has been busy expanding the bank’s blockchain unit. It now counts 300 employees, up from only about 100 three years ago, as we reported in 2023.

Jose Fernandez da Ponte, SVP general manager blockchain, crypto and digital assets, PayPal

Since January 2021, Jose Fernandez da Ponte has been PayPal’s SVP general manager of blockchain, crypto and digital assets, according to his LinkedIn profile.

A veteran of the financial industry, da Ponte worked at McKinsey and ran his own private equity firm before joining PayPal for the first time in 2011, serving as its head of strategy, emerging markets.

After a four-year hiatus from the fintech firm, when he worked at Spanish financial services firm BBVA, da Ponte returned to PayPal in 2019.

Raj Dhamodharan, EVP blockchain/digital asset products & partnerships, Mastercard

Raj Dhamodharan joined payments giant Mastercard in 2010 after almost a decade at arch-rival Visa.

Since December 2019, he has served as Mastercard’s EVP blockchain/digital asset products & partnerships, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Cuy Sheffield, head of crypto, Visa

Cuy Sheffield is payments Goliath Visa’s head of crypto, a position he’s held since June 2019, according to LinkedIn.

Since graduating from Pomona College in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in sociology, Sheffield has run his own tech startup and spent time at fintech ventures Hub and TrialPay before joining Visa in 2015.

Cynthia Lo Bessette, head of fidelity digital asset management, Fidelity

Cynthia Lo Bessette became head of Fidelity digital asset management in February, according to her LinkedIn profile.

Before that, she was head of asset management legal and digital assets legal, an expanded role she held for 10 months after almost four years as head of asset management legal.

She joined Fidelity in 2019 from asset management firm OppenheimerFunds.

Fidelity did not return requests for comment.

Manuel Nordeste, vice-president Fidelity Digital Assets, Fidelity

Former Goldman Sachs director Manuel Nordeste joined Fidelity in 2020, where he has climbed through the ranks.

Since October 2022, he has served as vice-president of Fidelity Digital Assets, according to his LinkedIn page.

He has also worked at EY and Credit Suisse.

Johann Kerbat, crypto general manager, Robinhood

Johann Kerbat joined investment app Robinhood in 2021 to work on its crypto unit, having previously had experience at both Airbnb and Uber, according to his LinkedIn page.

He was promoted to Robinhood’s crypto general manager in August 2022.

Eric Johansson is DL News’ London-based news editor. Got a tip on this or another story? Email him at