The WFE's Women Leaders 2020 - Julie Becker, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Luxembourg Stock Exchange

By: The WFE Focus Team Mar 2020

1. Can you tell us about your work experience journey? Has it been a linear path to reach your current position? 

I am a lawyer and law leads to everything! As I specialised in financial law, decided to build my career in the financial services industry. It was important for me to gain experience from different areas: I worked in capital markets, tax and legal departments, in M&A, in corporate law, as Compliance Officer and even as a Data Protection Officer. I have always been curious and motivated by learning something new, and over the years, I have built a broad and diverse skillset and know-how. 

After I joined the Luxembourg Stock Exchange in 2013, my career has evolved fastIn 2015, I joined the Executive Committee as Chief Legal and Compliance Officeras the first woman ever to be appointed to the company’s senior leadership team. That was a real milestone for me, and meant a lot to our female employees. Subsequently, I took over the responsibility of the Listing department and International Primary Markets and I founded the Luxembourg Green Exchange. The following years, I also assumed the responsibility of other departments such as Business Development and Marketing & Communication – and finally this year, I was appointed as Deputy CEO. It has been a truly exciting and rewarding journey.  

2. Have you worked with any mentors or coaches during your career? And do you mentor or coach anyone at the moment? 

I never had a mentor, but I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from bright people in senior leadership positions in all the firms I worked forI listened and observed, and these interactions helped me understand different aspects of leadership and grow professionally. I have been strongly sponsored by people who believed in me and in what I could achieve, and this has obviously helped me get to where I am today.  

Thanks to these experiences, I have made it a priority to sponsor talented people behind the scenes by opening doors and providing visibility to the work they do and the results they achieve. This kind of sponsorship is extremely important for career developmentespecially when it comes to increasing the share of women in management teams. Companies were set up by men, for men, and many ambitious and talented women still struggle with the glass ceiling. This is something I would like to change. 

3. Who is your most important role model? 

I do not have a role model per se, but there are people I admire for their skills, competences and for what they have achieved professionally. Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, is definitely one of them.   

4. How did you know you wanted to work for an exchange or CCP? Was this always a career aspiration? 

It was actually more of a coincidence that I joined the Luxembourg Stock Exchange – I believe I was at the right place at the right time. That said, after spending more than a decade in the financial sector in Luxembourg, the country’s only stock exchange seemed like a natural choiceI have always searched for positions and opportunities that were intellectually challenging while integrating a sense of purpose. The Luxembourg Stock Exchange provided an open and innovative environment, and I quickly realised that I could use my skills and leave my markwhile continuing to learn every day.  

When I first joined the exchange, I was actually looking to slow down from an intense management position and to find a better work-life balance. I did not imagine that I would be appointed Deputy CEO in a few years’ time. But then again, I never really knew how to slow down - I am a perfectionist and when I start something, I go all the way. 

5. What advice would you give to other women who want to develop their careers and gain leadership positions in financial services firms? 

First of all, be proud to be a woman, be proud of who you are! Believe in yourself and in your personal qualities and professional capabilitiesGenerally speaking, we women need to be more assertive, and fully realise that we can be just as good as our male counterparts. So sit in the first rowraise your hand and volunteer for more responsibilities! 

When asked for guidance, American Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg normally responds by sharing advice she says she received more than 50 years ago: "Sometimes it helps to be a little deaf. When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out. Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade." I believe this is true; let’s focus on the many opportunities out there and not on the numerous obstacles.  

And a final piece of advice to women (and men too) who are aiming for the top – don’t forget to smile and be positive!