The WFE's Women Leaders 2023 - Darci Trout, Executive Director, Operational Risk Management and Control, OCC-The Options Clearing Corporation

By: Darci Trout, Executive Director, Operational Risk Management and Control, OCC-The Options Clearing Corporation Mar 2023

Name: Darci Trout

Organization: OCC-The Options Clearing Corporation

Job Title: Executive Director, Operational Risk Management and Control

1. Brief description of nominee’s role/job

I am responsible for OCC’s operational risk management and controls function, which provides oversight for OCC’s identification, assessment, managing, monitoring and reporting of its risks. This includes overseeing the company’s risk management framework, working to establish the risk appetite and tolerances and developing KRI’s to measure and monitor risk, including reporting on the organization’s risk profile to the Risk Committee of the Board. Additionally, I oversee the execution of risk assessments and scenario exercises. I am also responsible for providing oversight to the business processes, procedures and internal controls to assure they are designed appropriately to mitigate risks. Though all of these activities, I serve as a liaison to the business to help them understand risk and controls, and I provide effective challenge through my second-line oversight role.

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

I have a BA from the University of Minnesota and an MBA from the University of Missouri. I started my career at a broker dealer within the equity trading and quality assurance areas. Prior to joining OCC in 2014, I worked for almost 12 years at a global risk consulting firm, where I worked in the internal audit and risk management practices providing services across various industries, including several clients within financial services. Through my tenure at OCC, I have worked in both the first and second lines of defense, including several years in compliance where I was responsible for compliance assurance and monitoring. 

Outside work, I enjoy spending time with friends and family, including my husband, 8-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter. I am an avid sports fan and enjoy playing tennis and watching the Green Bay Packers football team. I also enjoy travelling and finding new restaurants to try. In between work and family commitments, I spend time supporting Wellness House, a facility which provides support and programs to those diagnosed with and affected by cancer.

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

In 2022, I moved into a new role at OCC in our corporate risk team, leveraging my previous experience and facing new professional challenges. I previously served in roles in our first line business operations team working on internal controls, as well as our second line compliance team leading the compliance assurance and monitoring program.

Moving to the corporate risk team brought new challenges. I had to ramp up quickly on department policies, procedures, processes and regulatory expectations for a new department, while working to improve processes and efficiency. One of the items we worked on was a consolidated risk treatment module, which is being deployed in Q1 2023. This will allow us to better track the mitigations teams are performing and provide transparency and reporting that was previously unavailable.

With my career move, I am also responsible for leading a new team of individuals which involves understanding and assisting them in achieving their professional goals, leveraging their strengths and building a cohesive team to enhance a strong risk management department. In this role, I also had to build new relationships and expand my existing relationships to provide assistance and effective challenge regarding risk mitigation.

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

My work has been inspired by my family, who instilled a desire to build relationships and achieve success in all that we do. Working at OCC and in the company’s second line of defense, relationships are key to success, as they help you add value to processes, effectively challenge in a diplomatic way, and help facilitate accomplishing key projects or initiatives. I am also inspired to be an example for other women in financial services and at OCC, particularly those who are moms. I want to show others that you can succeed while balancing multiple demands at work and at home. I want to show my own son and daughter that hard work should be appreciated, regardless of gender. I also want to show my daughter that women can thrive on an equal playing field with their male counterparts, while encouraging my son to treat women as equals.

I have also had great managers and mentors who have provided me opportunities to take on additional tasks, and I continue to provide that mentoring support to individuals within my current role. Coming from a consulting background, there were always new industries, companies and things to learn, which always excited me. I remember one client made industrial forklifts, and though I can’t say that was in my area of interest, I learned the most from working with that client because it stretched my experience and knowledge. Being able to learn and adapt has prepared me well for my current role and has greatly benefited me in my career.

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

First, there really is no “work-life balance.” There is an ebb and flow between work and life, and at times – possibly because of a large project or a big deadline - work takes a front seat and at other times – sick kids or school obligations –life leads. That has helped me to recognize that things are balanced overall, but maybe not all at the same time.

When I was starting my career, one of my mentors was totally overworked and overwhelmed. She was always given extra tasks and assignments with unrealistic due dates. One of the things she told me, which always stuck with me, was, “You need to set your own boundaries – no one is going to say no for you, except you.” I think this is especially true as you progress in your career; just be very transparent about what you can (and cannot) take on. You cannot be everything to everyone and it is impossible to take on every task and deadline while continuing to be successful, happy and fulfilled.

Another women leader once said, when asked about being a female leader, “I don’t view myself as a female. I view myself as a professional.” At first I thought it was odd – why wouldn’t you claim to be a female leader? But as I thought about it more, her words have been good to keep in mind. Not that we can’t embrace being female, but that we should have the mentality that we belong as much as everyone else and should all be treated equally – as professionals. Bringing that confidence to work really helps to be successful.


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.