The WFE's Women Leaders 2022 - Michele Hillery, General Manager of Equities Clearing and Settlement, DTCC

By: The WFE Focus Team Mar 2022

Member: DTCC

Nominee’s name: Michele Hillery

Nominee’s job title: Managing Director, General Manager, Equities Clearing and Settlement

1. - Brief description of nominee’s role/job: 

Michele has direct responsibility for the day-to-day management of equities clearing of trades executed on major U.S. exchanges and other trading venues, and the settlement of DTC-eligible transactions. Michele is also accountable for setting the strategic direction of NSCC’s equities clearing and DTC’s settlement in the U.S., including driving industry changes that deliver resiliency, security, capital and operational efficiency to our clients as well as enhancing the overall client experience.

Michele also oversees DTCC’s ongoing efforts to collaborate with the industry and build support for modernising and transforming DTCC’s core businesses. In this capacity, she sits on DTCC’s Investment and Operations Committee, which is responsible for guiding DTCC’s strategic initiatives and approving capital investments.

As a senior leader at DTCC, Michele contributes to DTCC’s HR policies and sits on DTCC’s Human Capital Advisory Group. More directly, Michele supports emerging leaders in the organisation through mentoring relationships, sponsorship and participation in the firm’s women’s employee resource groups.

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

Michele has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry and has held various positions within product management, quality assurance and operations. A key theme of Michele’s career has been her ability to conceive, design and execute major transformation initiatives of highly regulated and critical market function. Prior to joining DTCC’s equity clearing group in 2013, Michele led the firm’s Fixed Income Clearing Corporation’s mortgage-backed securities division (MBSD), where she managed the operations of the business and had responsibility for project development. In this role, she led efforts to deliver a CCP model to the MBSD business–one of the most significant changes in market structure, which has brought greater certainty, stability and efficiency to this $70 trillion market. Since joining the firm’s equity clearing and settlement group, Michele has continued to identify innovative opportunities that have advanced the industry’s security, resiliency and operational processes, including enhancements to ETF processing, improved data services and asset transfers, redrafting cross-CCP agreements and identifying how emerging technologies could be leveraged to enhance the current clearing and settlement system.

In her free time, Michele hikes in upstate New York, volunteers at Active Plus, a New York-based organisation that provides health and fitness education to children and teens, and spends time with her family, dog and cat.

Michele earned a BBS from the University of Limerick in Ireland and a MS from New York University.

3. - What were your professional highlights and challenges of 2021 (i.e. why should you be on this list):

Following foundational work done in 2020, my team and I galvanised a cross-section of market participants and worked alongside SIFMA and ICI to agree to accelerate the U.S. equities settlement cycle from T+2 to T+1 by the end of the first half of 2024 – a complex undertaking that required deep collaboration and negotiation with a number of regulators and over 160 stakeholder organisations, including buy-side and sell-side firms, custodians, vendors and clearing houses. When implemented, the shorter settlement cycle will deliver significant capital efficiencies and risk mitigation benefits.

In addition, in 2021, I led the development of a fully functional prototype for clearing and settling equities on distributed ledger technology (DLT), known as Project Ion. The innovative initiative will support T+2, T+1, T+0 and extended settlement, while leveraging DTCC’s core benefits of risk management and volume capacity, including netting and the trade guarantee of the CCP. As a next step, I am overseeing efforts to build and test a production minimum viable product (MVP), which we expect to release in the first half of this year with future phases currently under discussion.

Additional key accomplishments in 2021 include the ongoing expansion of DTCC’s ETF Create/Redeem Clearing process to allow for straight-through collateralization of non-guaranteed activity, proposals for further extensions of ETF processing with other CCPs, and extensions of clearing eligible transactions.

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

It’s hard to point to any single influence because I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had excellent mentors throughout my career. In addition, I also grew up in a family that emphasised a strong work ethic and a commitment to continuous learning. My dad was a professor and my mom was a teacher, so I was continually encouraged to ask questions and discover answers by reading and researching topics and engaging with others. The influence of my parents, mentors and friends allowed me to approach unknown and uncertain situations with confidence because I am not concerned about whether I “know” the answer, but rather, energised to explore where that situation could lead. Given the pace of change in the financial markets today, this characteristic has proven invaluable and given me the tools to succeed within an evolving industry.

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

In my view, the most important elements of leadership are curiosity, drive and collaboration. For any emerging women leaders, I would encourage them to actively seek out interesting work within their own organisations or, more broadly, the industry by identifying initiatives that stretch your curiosity. And as you are driving change, women leaders need to have the confidence to be the “face” of the result – and not allow themselves to be relegated to a “behind-the-scenes” supporting role. As part of this, leaders should recognise and appreciate the team that works alongside you, supports you and drives your business forward because collaboration is an essential ingredient to delivering a great result.


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.