Visionary Fintech Entrepreneur Jenny Just to Receive Honorary Doctor of Business from Illinois Tech

Self-made billionaire Jenny Just founded PEAK6 in 1997, growing it into a financial and technology empire. In 2020 Just launched an innovative startup to help women learn poker, teaching strategy and decision-making in the game of life and business


Jenny Just, Illinois Tech Honorary Doctor of Business awardee, sits before a blue graphical background

CHICAGO—May 11, 2024—Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech) will award Jenny Just, a renowned entrepreneur and one of the few self-made female billionaires in the United States, an Honorary Doctor of Business, honoris causa. After cutting her teeth on the trading floor in Chicago, Just launched her own investment firm and transformed it into a fintech empire, including more than 15 companies that she has started or helped turn around.

“I am deeply honored to receive this recognition from Illinois Tech,” said Just. “It’s a humbling tribute to my work, and it also serves as a powerful motivator for the future. I’m committed to using my platform to continue advocating for educational equity and inspiring the next generation of leaders, especially women, to pursue their aspirations, goals, and dreams.”

Just co-founded PEAK6 in 1997 with $1.5 million in seed capital, initially focusing on proprietary options trading. Under her leadership, PEAK6 has evolved into a multibillion-dollar financial services and technology empire, housing the next generation of products and service brands, including  PEAK6 Capital Management, PEAK6 Strategic Capital, Apex Fintech Solutions, Apex Crypto, and PEAK6 InsurTech, as well as esports franchise Evil Geniuses and financial literacy app Zogo. 

“Jenny Just  exemplifies Illinois Tech’s spirit of innovation and leadership,” said Illinois Tech President Raj Echambadi. “Her profound impact on the finance industry and her unwavering commitment to raising up others inspires our whole university community.”

With a true knack for unearthing talent and opportunities, Just looks for underfunded and underappreciated sectors to transform into high-growth businesses. Her passion specifically lies in finding opportunities for women to succeed at every table—from the classroom, to the conference room, to the poker room, to the board room. 

In 2020 Jenny Just and her daughter Juliette launched Poker Power, a woman-led company that teaches poker to all who identify as female, and by extension, teaches strategic thinking, capital allocation, and decision-making skills. Additionally, Just has continued to create  programs to help women advance their careers, including the Women’s Trading Experience and Women’s Technology Experience.

“I can’t think of a better role model for our students than Jenny Just,” said Liad Wagman, dean of the Stuart School of Business. “Jenny Just embodies the innovativeness, strategic thinking, and determination required to make a tremendous impact in the business world. Her commitment to harnessing untapped market opportunities, leveraging technology for inclusive business success, and lifting others up, are inspirations for current and future leaders.”

Just received a B.B.A in Business, Management, Marketing, and Related Support Services from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in 1990.

Just’s honorary degree will be conferred during Illinois Tech’s 155th Commencement ceremony on May 11, 2024 at Credit Union 1 Arena.

Photo: Jenny Just

Illinois Institute of Technology

Based in the global metropolis of Chicago, Illinois Tech was born to liberate the power of collective difference to advance technology and innovation for all. It is the only tech-focused university in the city, and it stands at the crossroads of exploration and invention, advancing the future of Chicago and the world. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineeringcomputingarchitecturebusinessdesignscience and human sciences, and law. Illinois Tech students are guaranteed access to hands-on experiences, personalized mentorship, and job readiness through the university's one-of-a-kind Elevate program. Its graduates lead the state and much of the nation in economic prosperity. Its faculty and alumni built the Chicago skyline. And every day in the city's living lab, Illinois Tech fuels breakthroughs that change lives. Visit

Stuart School of Business

Stuart School of Business, a prestigious institution with a history dating back to the late 1890s, is the only business school in Chicago located within a tech-focused university, uniquely bridging business and technology. Offering rigorous, applied programs in analytics, finance, economics, marketing, and management for undergraduate, graduate, and non-degree-seeking students, Stuart prioritizes career readiness by providing abundant opportunities for internships, career placement, experiential learning, and networking through its connections in the global business and financial center of Chicago. Over its 125-year journey, business education at Illinois Tech has been consistently refined through curricular innovations and foundational scholarly works.

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Illinois Institute of Technology
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Kevin Dollear
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Illinois Institute of Technology
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