The WFE's Women Leaders 2022 - Laetitia Hamon, Head of Sustainable Finance, Luxembourg Stock Exchange
Member: Luxembourg Stock Exchange
Nominee’s name: Laetitia Hamon
Nominee’s job title: Head of Sustainable Finance
1. - Brief description of nominee’s role/job:
Since joining the Luxembourg Stock Exchange (LuxSE) in the summer of 2020 as head of sustainable finance, Laetitia has been responsible for LuxSE’s sustainable finance strategy and related projects, while also leading the expert team at LuxSE’s UN-awarded platform for sustainable finance, the Luxembourg Green Exchange (LGX). As LuxSE CEO Julie Becker’s trusted appointee on sustainable finance and a true advocate of sustainability and corporate social responsibility, Laetitia plays a crucial role in advising the executive committee on a broad range of sustainability issues, both in relation to LuxSE’s issuers and when it comes to the company’s own sustainability goals. Sustainable finance is gaining momentum, and LGX is a frontrunner in the field, raising awareness and driving growth in Luxembourg and beyond. Together with her team, Laetitia works relentlessly to ensure that sustainability concerns are taken into account in financial decision-making, helping to make finance part of the solution to our global challenges.
With more than 13 years of experience in sustainability-related advisory work and the audit of non-financial information, Laetitia is a widely recognised expert in sustainable finance. Her field of expertise covers sustainable investments, climate finance and corporate social responsibility, all crucial topics that are driving the success of both LuxSE and LGX. Under Laetitia’s leadership, LGX has reached numerous milestones since July 2020, including the launch of a new Climate-Aligned Issuers window, and the launch and subsequent expansion of the LGX DataHub to include unrivalled structured sustainability data on almost the entire universe of the world’s listed green, social and sustainability bonds – and now also covering sustainability-linked bonds.
Laetitia is also responsible for LuxSE’s overall corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy and initiatives, and she leads the company’s efforts in creating a positive environmental and social impact for a broad range of stakeholders, including employees, the financial industry, the local community and the planet.
For a number of years, she has actively participated in local and international working groups in the field of sustainability, including the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry (ALFI) and the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI). More recently, Laetitia was named a member of the Advisory Group for LAGreen Fund, the first green bond fund dedicated to Latin America with the aim of building the green bond market in the region’s emerging markets.
Laetitia’s genuine passion for sustainability, her exemplary leadership skills, and her innate desire to involve everyone, both within and beyond LuxSE, in conversations on climate, transition and inclusivity mean that she is constantly motivating others to get involved and actively contribute to creating a low carbon and more inclusive world.
2. - Short bio (career highlights, education, interests/hobbies):
Laetitia Hamon has been head of sustainable finance at LuxSE since July 2020.
As a pioneer in sustainable finance, Laetitia started her career as an ESG analyst for an extra-financial rating agency in 2008. However, her passion for the topic goes back to 2003, when she undertook a master’s degree in corporate social responsibility at Ecole Supérieure des Affaires, Paris XII. Once completed, Laetitia decided to dedicate her career to sustainable finance and she has built in-depth expertise on the matter over the past 13 years. After gaining experience in the investment fund industry through different positions at Thomson Reuters and ALFI – the Association of the Luxembourg Fund Industry, she spent eight years managing and then leading the sustainable finance audit and advisory practice at KPMG in Luxembourg.
Laetitia also has a master’s degree in international management from the Institut Supérieur Européen de Gestion (ISEG).
Laetitia was born in Ivory Coast and has a family of very diverse cultures and origins. She is passionate about travelling, which has enabled her to take time to slowly discover the world and see its people and cultures.
3. - What were your professional highlights and challenges of 2021 (ie why should you be on this list):
Despite the ongoing pandemic, 2021 started as strongly as the previous year ended in terms of sustainable finance. My team proved very flexible, agile and ready to take up new challenges, which ultimately led to a year of records and new milestones for LGX.
The first highlight came in February 2021, when LGX added a new section dedicated to Climate-Aligned Issuers (CAI), where we feature companies that generate at least 75% of their revenues from climate-aligned activities. This new issuer section on LGX complements the well-established product section and serves to highlight untapped opportunities in the broader sustainable investment universe, beyond labelled bonds. The following month, LuxSE received the title of Exchange of the Year at Environmental Finance’s Bond Awards 2021. This award marked the fifth consecutive year that LuxSE was recognised as the Exchange of the Year, and this repeated recognition really made us proud and served as a motivation to continue on our mission to transform finance.
Yet another significant milestone came in May 2021, when LGX reached the 1,000 sustainable bonds mark. This landmark 1,000th bond listing and display served as a significant testimony to LGX’s global reach and the exponential growth of the platform, as well as its direct contribution to the UN SDGs and the objectives of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
But the most memorable highlight of the year for me was certainly when we celebrated the five-year anniversary of LGX. I believe it was a very emotional event for all of the LuxSE staff, and I certainly felt there was a sense of unity behind this project, a lot of pride and a willingness to work together towards common goals.
A month later, LuxSE marked the listing of the European Commission’s inaugural 12 billion-euro green bond, the world’s largest green bond issued to date. To be chosen as the preferred listing venue by the European Commission is an important recognition of the work of LuxSE and LGX in propelling sustainable finance, not just in Europe, but throughout the world.
We are still merely at the beginning of the exchange’s journey towards sustainable finance, as during COP26, LuxSE signed up to the Net Zero Financial Service Providers Alliance (NZFSPA), which is part of GFANZ. As such, our biggest challenge lies in front of us, as we will need to drive a systemic change, a change in mindset and processes – both within our company, but also among our clients, suppliers and other stakeholders - to meet our net zero commitments. To achieve this, we will need to explain, convince, and remain persistent in our efforts to eventually get everyone on board and moving.
4. - What and who inspires/has inspired you to achieve your professional success:
If I look back on my career, I have been very fortunate to work with and learn from a number of people who have inspired me in one way or another, be it professionally or personally. Those people have something important in common: They all have a passion for their job, a capacity to push boundaries, an ability to not take no for an answer, an immense respect for their teams, and above all, the ability to show kindness and empathy. I was lucky to cross their paths and learn alongside them and they have all played an instrumental part in my career and my work in sustainable finance. They continue to be a source of inspiration as do many other colleagues, friends and family members who day in and day out demonstrate great resilience and manage to grow and flourish in the face of adversity. Strengthening this crucial skill is a daily objective in my professional life.
5. - What advice do you have for other women who aspire to be in leadership positions:
I have always liked the idea that I can have a career and a family and take time for myself, and I believe that every woman should have the opportunity to do this if that is what she wants. Sometimes I even believe that I can run these three lives in parallel and do it well. Other times I struggle to strike the right balance. What has really been important to me, and what I believe brought me to this leadership position, is that in difficult moments, when I had to make hard choices, I paused, thought about what my top priority was at the time, and stuck to it. I made an active decision not to feel guilty about the projects I was putting aside. It requires strength, confidence and courage to stand by your choices without constantly questioning your own decisions, but I believe that when you respect your own choices, other people will respect them, too.
One example is when I started to work at the Luxembourg Stock Exchange in July 2020, I had been planning for four years to take my six-month parental leave that year, to travel with my family and share unforgettable moments together. I found myself in a situation where I had been offered a very good position that I would need to take a break from after only two months. This meant that I wouldn’t have a lot of time to create bonds with my team and colleagues, I wouldn’t have time to demonstrate my full skillset and the value and determination I brought to the job, and I would have to work hard upon my return to catch up with new developments, projects and people. Nevertheless, I decided to go ahead with my plan, and I embarked on an unforgettable world tour with an open mind, leaving all the uncertainties outside of my backpack. When the time came to prepare for my return, I worked hard to stay confident and positive, and kept my own fear at bay. I didn’t know if my decision to take parental leave shortly after starting a new job would limit my opportunities, but I had made up my mind and happily LuxSE is an employer that values its employees and strives to support their personal projects as far as possible. My experience proves that, even when you lead a team, it is possible to take a break to focus fully on an important family project, and then work hard towards your professional objectives afterwards.
So, my advice for women is listen to your inner voice, whether it tells you that you want to build a career, or take time for your family, or exercise every morning, any of this, or all of this. That voice leads you and if you dare to listen to it, you will be leading too.
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.