The WFE's Women Leaders 2023 - Alicia Greenwood, Chief Executive Officer, JSE Clear

By: Alicia Greenwood, Chief Executive Officer, JSE Clear Mar 2023

Name: Alicia Greenwood

Organisation: Johannesburg Stock Exchange 

Job Title: Chief Executive Officer, JSE Clear and Director Post Trade Services, JSE 

1. Brief description of nominee’s role and job:

Alicia Greenwood is the director of Post Trade Services at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and the chief executive officer of JSE Clear – a separate legal entity 100% owned by JSE Limited.

I manage critical JSE operational areas responsible for daily risk management and settlement of the listed South African equity and bond markets, and for enforcing the JSE market settlement rules. I am also responsible for managing business processes and IT integration with numerous external stakeholders across the South African capital-market value chain.

As JSE Clear CEO, I am fully accountable for the strategic, business and IT operations of the JSE’s clearing house and CCP for listed derivatives – the only one of its kind in South Africa. I am responsible for over $35 million in capital, the management of $30 billion in client collateral, the regulation of clearing members and for ensuring the regulatory compliance of JSE Clear. I report to an independent JSE Clear Board.

2. Short bio (career highlights, education, interests/hobbies):

I have 25 years of experience in banking and capital markets and have served on multiple boards and held several senior roles at leading South African companies.

I was appointed as CEO of JSE Clear and director of Post Trade Services at the JSE in 2016. I currently serve on the boards of JSE Clear and Strate, South Africa's principal central securities depository and central collateral platform.

Prior to joining the JSE, I served as a director of portfolio and risk management in corporate investment banking at Standard Bank. I also acted as deputy general manager at Discovery Health and as senior manager for financial services at Accenture.

I have served as an active representative and participant in several WFE and CCP12 forums since 2016 and was the vice chair of the WFE’s Post-Trade Working Group in 2018. I have presented CCP / post trade content at various WFE conferences, the London School of Economics Law School FMI Seminar, and at various South African conferences.

I hold a PhD in chemistry from the University of Cape Town.

3. What were your professional highlights and challenges in 2022?

I am extremely proud of JSE Clear’s exceptional performance over recent years, notwithstanding the extreme market turmoil brought about by the COVID pandemic, the Russian conflict with Ukraine and global recession risks. JSE Clear was able to manage the elevated volatility and risks of its portfolio and counterparties proactively and flexibly, while still maintaining accessible markets for investors. JSE Clear was also able to seamlessly adjust to extreme market volumes and remote working arrangements, and its operational performance reached record levels of performance and resilience in 2022. No material adverse risk or operational events were realised from 2020 to-date.

In September 2022, JSE Clear was granted a licence to operate as an Independent Clearing House and Central Counterparty (CCP) by the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), in agreement with the Prudential Authority (PA) and the South African Reserve Bank (SARB). This concluded a multi-year licence application process and redesign of the CCP’s operating model and governance structures and resulted in JSE Clear being the only licensed CCP and independent clearing house operating in South Africa. Prior to this, JSE Clear had been operating under an Associated Clearing House licence and obtained IOSCO recognition as a QCCP in 2012 and ESMA equivalence recognition in 2016.

During 2022, JSE Clear achieved a major milestone for the South African capital markets by securing broad-based stakeholder support for the establishment of central clearing for the South African bond market. The value proposition for a South African Bond CCP is primarily driven by the need to grow liquidity of the bond market, particularly with global counterparts. South Africa does not have regulatory mandates in place for central clearing, but market stakeholders have nonetheless recognised the value that an equivalent CCP such as JSE Clear brings to market stability, attractiveness, and positive liquidity outcomes. The Bond CCP project has commenced and is targeted for go-live by 2025.

4. What and who inspires/has inspired you to achieve your professional success?

I have found inspiration from a number of South African leaders and colleagues, and from the diversity and resilience of the South African people.

South Africa has a rich history of great leaders who were instrumental in the transformation of our country and our society, including the Nobel Laureates Nelson Mandela, FW De Klerk, Albert Luthuli and Desmond Tutu. These leaders were fearless in the face of extreme adversity and remained dedicated to the positive transformation of the country, and to reconciliation and peace among our people.

I have had the pleasure of working with a number of business leaders who have taught me the value of strong leadership, innovation and being pioneering. I have been inspired by leaders such as Nicky Newton-King, who was the first female chief executive officer of the JSE and who is unwaveringly ethical, trustworthy and diligent. Ms Newton-King not only opened doors for women leaders at the JSE and elsewhere, but her innovative foresight has left a progressive mark on the development of the South African financial-services and securities sectors.

Another inspirational leader is Adrian Gore, the CEO of Discovery Limited, who continually displays a highly innovative and optimistic mindset, and who has created a proudly South African company that competes very well in the global markets. Mr Gore has a passionate and focused leadership style and focuses on positivity, vision and encouragement but also on pushing hard to achieve his goals.

The South African people are a wonderful source of inspiration. South Africans have overcome many tough hurdles in our economic and political history, and have proven to be highly resilient and dedicated to their cause, while still maintaining compassion and respect for their fellow countrymen. South Africa is living proof of the value of diversity - the cultures, languages and ethnic origins of South African people are exceptionally diverse and dynamic, making it a very interesting and unique place to work and live in.

5. What advice do you have for other women who aspire to be in leadership positions?

Believe in yourself and in your potential. Grab the opportunities that come your way. Define your own model for work-life balance and set a pace for achieving it that suits you.

I recognise the hurdles associated with being a woman in a leadership position, and I recognise the simplicity of the advice to “just believe in yourself.” The career path of any leader is uncertain – it is often filled with changed directions, chance encounters, of being in the right place at the right time, and of difficulties and crises. What matters most is not what has already happened, but what your next step will be. Believing in yourself and your potential is accepting what has happened and then taking control to forge a way forward.

I began my career as a research scientist in a laboratory, I would never have imagined myself as director of the largest stock exchange on the continent, or CEO of the only clearing house in South Africa. Fortunately – after 25 successful years in financial services and 10 years at the JSE – I can proudly say that the career change that once filled me with trepidation, has turned out to be one of the best decisions of my career.


The views, thoughts and opinions contained in this Focus article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the WFE’s policy position on the issue, or the WFE’s views or opinions.