Female market infrastructure chiefs rally to help more women to the top

Diana Chan

The inaugural meeting of the Women Leaders in Financial Infrastructure group, organised by Chan, saw around 30 of the sector’s current and future female leaders gather in Brussels on September 22 to discuss the most viable ways to secure a healthy work/life balance and how best to achieve success in a male-dominated sector.

Other senior executives attending the event included: Tina Hasenpusch, the CEO of CME Clearing Europe; Hanna Vainio, CEO of Euroclear’s Finnish business; Maria João Carioca Rodrigues, CEO of Euronext in Portugal; Valérie Urbain, CEO of Euroclear Bank; and Clifford Chance banking and finance partner Caroline Meinertz.

The senior executives were joined by around 25 women that had been identified and invited to attend as the industry’s up-and-coming female talent.

Chan said she hoped launching an event that enabled CEOs to share their experience of getting to the top with the industry’s rising stars would “help more women reach their career potential sooner”.

She said: “Sometimes even a small tip can make a big difference.”

The event, which Chan plans to repeat next year, came as clearing and settlement providers take on greater prominence in Europe’s capital markets amid sweeping reforms and increasing standardisation of the sector.

Post-trade service providers have had to contend with a slew of far-reaching regulatory changes in the wake of the G20 leaders’ decision in 2009 to implement reforms to reduce risk in derivatives markets. These include the European Market Infrastructure Regulation, which in 2012 established common rules for central counterparties and trade repositories, and the European Central Bank’s initiative to co-ordinate the settlement of central bank money across the European Union, known as Target-2 Securities.

Next up is the revised Markets in Financial Instruments Directive, or Mifid II, which is due to come into effect in January 2018 and will feature open-access rules requiring clearing houses to process any product on a non-discriminatory basis; new controls on market data pricing; position limits for commodity derivatives; and transparency requirements for a range of asset classes.

Michal Bussi, a compliance director at CME Group and one of the ‘future leaders’ invited to the event, said she had been “truly inspired by the stories and advice given”.

She said: “It’s refreshing and empowering to see so many female role models looking to help and support those they identify to have potential to become future leaders.”

The messages that particularly stood out to Bussi and others in the audience were: to specialise in something, be focused in what you want to achieve, be passionate, make yourself and your personality known, and to delegate all you can in work and life – with the exception of love.

Caroline Porter, head of data sales at the London Metal Exchange, and another ‘future leader’, said the event gave her “renewed energy” and “put a bounce into [her] step coming into the office” the next day.

She said her favourite sound bites from the meeting included “If you don’t show you can lead, it is hard for others to see you as a leader”, “Be true to yourself”, and “Don’t try to emulate men”.

Porter said: “Best of all for me personally was that not one person said the solution to the challenges of work/life balance was to work less or forgo your personal aspirations whether that is cooking, reading… friends or family or children. It got me thinking – maybe we can have it all?”

Sara Cescutti, a sales and relationship manager for Euroclear in the UK and Ireland and another ‘future leader’, said: “There is a general perception out there that family [and] kids (together with sense of guilt) are a blocking factor in a woman`s career. Although it’s not easy to juggle all of it, it was really energising to hear that for the [mothers among the senior executives at the event], family and kids have actually been the key to their success and helped them to become more efficient and better organised in their job.

“What is usually described as a negative in a woman’s career [is] actually a big positive. This has to be said loud to encourage younger generations of women not to fall in this perception trap.”

Another attendee, Mireille Galeazzi, a product management director at Euroclear in France, agreed: “It was… reassuring that [the senior executives in attendance] all were aligned on saying that their family has been a support to their career rather than an obstacle.”

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