The WFE's Women Leaders 2023-Inmaculada Navas, SDX General Counsel, Six Digital Exchange Ltd.
Name: Inmaculada Navas
Organization: SIX Group
Job Title: SDX General Counsel, Six Digital Exchange Ltd
1. Brief description of nominee’s role/job
I joined SIX Digital Exchange Ltd (SDX) at its inception in April 2019. SDX is a company 100% owned by SIX Group, which is a global infrastructure operator with nearly 4000 employees in 22 countries. Since its inception, SDX has grown to 144 employees and has obtained two Financial Market Infrastructure licenses. I started the legal team as a one-woman show to support SDX's envisaged goal of becoming the first worldwide integrated securities trading and settlement infrastructure on distributed ledger technology for banks. My role included at that time covering all legal, compliance and regulatory aspects of the project and business model, advising on products and initiatives, building up a trustworthy relationship with the Swiss Regulator FINMA and creating the required transparency to ensure a complete filing and obtain the aimed Stock Exchange and Central Security Depository licenses.
Despite the challenging journey aggravated by the circumstances of the pandemic, I have managed to build up a Legal and Compliance team that I’m proud to rely on, and in September 2021 obtained both licenses to start operating our business model. I’ve since joined the SDX Management Board in my role as General Counsel to help define the strategy, design new business models and services, expand our customer base and pursue international growth.
In my current role within SIX and SDX I’m committed to fostering and thriving innovation and digitalisation, creating bridges between different stakeholders and jurisdictions and sharing experiences as well as know-how to jointly build the future ecosystem for digital assets.
2. Short bio (career highlights, education, interests/hobbies):
As a trained lawyer I have almost 20 years of long-standing Legal and Compliance expertise gained in the financial sector with UBS and Credit Suisse in different roles and locations. I have, among other things, led key regulatory initiatives and bank-wide projects, led negotiations with foreign regulators/authorities and managed important litigations. When joining SDX I was particularly fascinated by the idea of doing pioneering work by finding solutions based on new technology and regulatory provisions that are still evolving internationally. I consider myself extraordinarily fortunate to be part of the SDX family working daily side by side with incredibly intelligent, talented and visionary colleagues who have set themselves the goal of paving the path to a future that creates added value to society.
Despite my dedication for SDX I have a great passion for travelling the world, exploring new cultures and advocating education by supporting in particular School4Life, a charity organisation dear to my heart founded by friends. Besides all of this, I cannot deny my passion for dancing. There is literally no dance floor safe from me - I guess I cannot hide my Spanish roots.
3. What were your professional highlights and challenges of 2022?
2022 has been a very exciting year for us by transitioning from a project to a full-fletched running business with our first onboarded clients and first bonds issuances and transactions. It is clear to all of us that building a new market platform from scratch takes time and will not happen overnight, therefore tireless effort is required on all fronts. SIX Group walking the talk and believing in us by issuing its first CHF Bonds with SDX as a dual-tranche bond was an important milestone and vote of confidence for us, which I consider extremely motivating.
I’m also strongly convinced that having entered the crypto space despite ‘Crypto Winter’ and other related events by launching non-custodial Staking and Crypto Custody via SDX Web3 has been the right decision to take. It has been proven that it is key for financial institutions to work with reliable and trusted partners like SIX Group that are used to operating in a highly regulated space and known for high quality and security requirements. It is now up to us to prove that we can meet those demanding expectations.
4. What and who inspires/has inspired you to achieve your professional success?
Since a child I’ve been led by curiosity and learning new things in all life situations that have always fascinated and inspired me. I don’t think that I have ever aimed for professional success as such or tried to copy any specific role model in this regard. I am rather the person who perceives challenges as potential opportunities for personal growth while remaining true to myself and my values. Aiming always for a higher purpose. Coming from a family with an immigration background, I have never feared hard work. I therefore consider my parents to be the biggest inspiration to me after seeing them work hard despite all resistances to provide my brother and me with a better future. They are my role models when it comes to integrity and I’m so grateful for their unconditional love and support.
I also strongly believe that every person I have the pleasure to work with or otherwise and every situation I encounter in daily life is a source of mutual inspiration. We just need to remain open to learn from each other in order to achieve the best version of ourselves.
5. What advice do you have for other women who aspire to be in leadership positions?
Be yourself and remain authentic. I remember being labelled once at the beginning of my career as ‘special’ or ‘atypical’ – instead of getting discouraged I took it as an opportunity to show the others that there is indeed another way to do things. Get yourself out of the comfort zone. Leadership is not about climbing the corporate ladder based on defined objectives but about going down unfamiliar paths, thinking outside the box and making decisions when faced with challenges. Speak up for others if they can’t. Don’t be afraid of failing or making mistakes because there is no ‘perfect.’ It is all about growing in experience, gaining confidence in your own skills and building up strengths. There is in my opinion no career that can be planned, because it’s all about opportunities that will cross your path and the ones you dare to pick – as it says, no risk no fun. The best advice, however, that I have is feel excited about what you do and whom you’re working with!
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.