The WFE's Women Leaders 2020 - Nandini Sukumar, Chief Executive Officer, The World Federation of Exchanges (WFE)

Published by: The WFE Communications Team Mar 2020

One of the things that struck me about the exchange industry when I started working life right out of university was that, in meetings, there seemed to be more women in the room than in other parts of finance. Years on, while every part of financial services including our own, has farther to go to ensure better gender balance, I’m proud to work in an industry that has recognised that for decades and tried to do something about diversity in the workplace. I think that explains why there are many women in the C-suite in our industry now, in every geographical region.

Growing up as one of two siblings and my parent’s only daughter, I was lucky to have strong role models from the outset. I watched my medical mother balance many things between family life and career while my medical father helped her do that. They always told my brother and I to ‘do something with your life’ and I hear myself saying that now to his two young daughters.

I have been fortunate to have great mentors: both men and women, who have both given me advice when I was confronting a challenge and listened to me when I was grappling with a question. Working life occupies most of our waking moments and I believe that being happy and fulfilled at work absolutely affects how happy and fulfilled you are with personal life. My conversations with my mentors are as much about managing my career as they are about managing my life. Right now, we are at the start of week three of a London lockdown with the entire organisation working remotely, and it’s a time when we all think about the nature of leadership and what it means in practical terms. We’re having really interesting conversations about both!

I think being positive, working hard and figuring out what you enjoy at work so you can do more of it, is a good way to think about career and working life. It’s what I’ve always tried to do and has worked for me.

When I meet our member organisations, I’m always intrigued by the women who work there and inspired by their stories. You will find some of them in the magazine this month, but there are many more, and I promise that you will find their stories in Focus in the editions to come.

The WFE community is about the most international you will find and over the years I’ve been fortunate to have such interesting conversations with women in our industry from China to Chicago to Cairo to Frankfurt to Kazakhstan and Saudi Arabia. Many have gone on to become friends. One of the many wonderful things my career in the industry has given me is friends with whom I can speak about market structure (which still fascinates me!) and life (which I believe should be seized as an opportunity!).