By Catherine Durkin
While most people are sound asleep, Neil Lustyk is on his way to work at 2:30 a.m. Lustyk currently works the night shift as the Associate Director of the Globex Control Center at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange at 20 South Wacker Drive.
For the past eight years, Lustyk has been working the third shift in the CME control center from 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. During the third shift, Lustyk manages the control center and oversees the other night staffers during what as known as the European shift.
Prior to working at the CME Group, Lustyk worked at a similar analyst job at the Chicago Board of Trade. Lustyk applied for the third shift at the CME group after noticing that it paid well.
Lustyk had very little college experience prior to working in the financial sector. He originally started as a broker on the trading floor at the Chicago Board of Trade where he began to learn hands on about the trading world.
“My education in this business is really based on my experience on the floor,” he said. “I started there when I was 19 years old and I will be 50 soon; meaning I have been in the business for almost half my life.”
Lustyk acknowledged that in current times, people who are job hunting in the business world without a college degree are fighting an uphill battle and he considers himself lucky to have his current job.
Before becoming associate director of the Globex Control Center, Lustyk was an analyst at the CME Group. As an analyst he would take phone calls from customers all over the world, who were having problems with trading applications or had questions in general.
Lustyk then worked his way up to his current position, of associate director where he manages 10 direct reports he, is involved in the planning of the department itself, as well as constantly updating trading application as well as testing them.
“We equate what we are doing on this shift to a fire house” Lustyk said. “The bells ring a lot more during the day and they get to ride on the truck. But part of our responsibility is to make sure the truck is working right so when they have to drive it out, they don’t get a flat tire.”
Lustyk has 10 analysts who report directly to him everyday and with whom he involves in projects. Altogether, about 35 employees work in his department overnight, along with two employees in London.
Unlike most jobs, Lustyk works full-time Sunday through Thursday from 3 a.m. to 11 a.m. When he is not working, Lustyk is on-call if a major problem arises in the department.
There are obviously many challenges that are associated with working the overnight shift, especially when customers call the control center.
“The customer does not want to hear ‘Well it’s the overnight staff we really don’t handle that” he said. “We have to provide the same level of service that one expects during normal hours, which is often difficult because the problem might require additional support such as waking up another staff member during the night.”
On the other hand, Lustyk said that people have to be prepared for how the late-night shift affects their lifestyles. Lustyk stresses that one has to be cautious to get enough rest before the workday in order to keep your energy level up.
“I try to get six hours of sleep every night meaning I go to bed around 8 o’clock at night and wake up and 2 o’clock in the morning,” Lustyk said. “I also unfortunately drink a lot of diet pop to increase my energy.”
Lustyk acknowledged that his staff members must be more cautious of their health when working such a shift. As one can imagine, there is not a wide variety of meal choices to choose from during Lustyk’s working hours.
“We have our list of places that will deliver to us but lately we have been all cutting back because we are trying to lose some weight,” Lustyk said, chuckling. “Obviously the places are not delivering us healthy food at this time of the day.”
Another drawback of the overnight shift is there is very limited public transportation during the early hours of the morning. Lustyk commutes from the suburb of Lisle, which means he must pay expensive daytime parking fees, which can add up to about $200 a month.
On the other hand, Lustyk stressed that there are surprisingly several benefits to working the late shift. One main advantage is that he receives a 10 percent differential in his pay for his working hours.
“If you manage your time right and you make sure you get enough sleep you can have the whole day to do stuff,” he said. “I was able to have all the summers with my son as he was growing up to do activities during the day.”
Even though Lustyk must drive to work due to his hours, he avoids rush hour all together. His commute downtown is never more than 30 to 40 minutes because of low traffic flow.
Working the late shift has also given Lustyk the perk of being able to call the shots more, as he is one of the highest-ranking individuals on the shift. He acknowledges that his shift is a little off the radar, which means the staff does not have people looking over their shoulders securitizing them.
When asked if he has any interesting stories about working his shift, Lustyk responded that he watched part of the Batman film “The Dark Knight” being filmed right outside the CME building 2007.
“Strangely enough I see myself staying on this shift in the future,” he said. “It works for me especially with the flexibility it gives me in my life. This company has truly been a godsend for me and I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else.”