The WFE's Women Leaders 2022 - Hon. Sharon Bowen, Chair of the Board of Directors, NYSE

By: The WFE Focus Team Mar 2022

Member: Intercontinental Exchange/New York Stock Exchange  

Nominee’s name: Hon. Sharon Bowen

Nominee’s job title: Chair of the Board of Directors,  New York Stock Exchange, and Board Member, Intercontinental Exchange 


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

Hon. Sharon Bowen is chair of the Board of Directors of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the premier global venue for capital-raising. The NYSE is a subsidiary of Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE), a leading global provider of data, technology and market infrastructure. NYSE Group’s equity exchanges — NYSE, NYSE American, NYSE Arca, NYSE Chicago and NYSE National — trade more U.S. equity volume than any other exchange group.

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

Sharon Bowen has over 35 years of regulatory, securities and public policy expertise. She served as a commissioner of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) from 2014 to 2017. Previously, she was confirmed by the U.S. Senate and appointed by President Obama to serve as vice chair of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). She assumed the role of acting chair in March 2012.

Prior to her role in the Obama administration, Sharon had a renowned three-decade career in corporate and transactional law as an Associate at Davis, Polk & Wardwell and later as an associate and partner at Latham & Watkins.

She also serves on the board of Neuberger Berman, Akamai Technologies and has served on the board of NYSE parent company Intercontinental Exchange (NYSE: ICE) since December 2017.

Passionate about diversity, Sharon is a fearless advocate for the economic empowerment of women and girls. She serves as co-chair of the NYSE Board Advisory Council, which she helped launch in 2019 to address the critical need for inclusive leadership by connecting diverse candidates with companies seeking new directors. She is also a partner of Seneca Women, centered on the principle that advancing women and girls will fast forward us to a more equitable and prosperous world. Sharon is a recipient of the 2011 Diversity Trailblazer Award of the New York State Bar Association and 2011 Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award from The Leadership Institute for Women of Color Attorneys, Inc.

She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from the University of Virginia, a Master of Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management and a Juris Doctor from Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

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

2021 was a year that certainly challenged all of us as the pandemic continued to disrupt all aspects of life, from our personal health and wellbeing to the broader markets. Like the rest of the world, I spent my time processing and dealing with these disruptions. It remained important to me to continue finding ways to empower women, especially during this difficult time. I continued my involvement in the NYSE Board Advisory Council and Seneca Women — both of which made great strides in 2021. Through the council, we have created a pool of CEO-vetted, board-ready candidates for management teams to tap into. We have grown the pool by 79% and developed digital components on the platform to help nurture candidate-to-candidate networking opportunities, as well as enable board leaders to easily search candidates by criteria. For Seneca Women, I hosted a series of podcasts, including Made By Women, which gives women the tools, expertise and hard-won lessons needed to succeed in business in these fast-changing times.

The highlight of the year was, without a doubt, my appointment to chair of the NYSE. It is such an honor and privilege for me to be at the helm of such an iconic institution. It is not lost on me that I am the first woman and first person of color in this role. Looking ahead to 2022, I plan to use this platform to focus on important issues like ESG, including advancement in the areas of climate change, diversity, equity and inclusion, and greater accessibility to our capital markets, and to help the NYSE and its listed companies navigate this evolving space.

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

I draw inspiration from a variety of sources, but I am most inspired by those who are resilient, think outside the box, have a sense of curiosity and a general willingness to help others. I grew up in a family surrounded by very strong women who instilled all of these values in me and have sought out mentors and mentees who regard them highly. I attribute much of my professional success to this group of women.

As I continue to achieve my own professional goals and break barriers, it has become important to me to give back to the community with the goal of empowering others to do the same. I’m inspired by the work that we’ve done at Seneca Women and on the Board of New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Inc., the boards of New York City Economic Development Corporation and Public Education Needs Civil Involvement in Learning (PENCIL).

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

When you look at the common traits of some of the world’s greatest leaders, there are a few that make an impression. The first is curiosity. I encourage the women I work with to always be curious. It is this curiosity that will take you on different journeys — some of which will succeed, some of which will fail.

Being a leader is all about solving problems and coming up with solutions, often times driven by this curiosity. My advice to other women seeking leadership positions is this: If you see something that needs to be fixed, don’t wait for someone else to do it. Volunteer to fix it yourself. In fixing whatever is broken, don’t be afraid to try something totally different, adapt or evolve. Regardless of whether you are part of an organization or a broader community, your efforts will not go unnoticed.


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.