The WFE's Women Leaders 2020 - Julie Holzrichter, Chief Operating Officer, CME

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? 

My career path early on involved taking on roles of greater responsibility every few years.  But I think what really allowed me to prepare for a senior role was taking some risk, more so than a linear path.  recognised early on that technology was going to change the way we did business, and I made the decision at one point to take on a smaller role leading the development of trading floor technology. This was a new area and not very popular at the time, and some might have seen that as a step back at that stage of my career 

Technology and electronification did become the future of the industryToday, more than 90 percent of trading volume at CME Group is electronic, which means investors from all over the world can access our markets, virtually 24/7. That choice to invest in that area of my career really set me on a path to take on broader leadership roles in global operations. 

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

I have found mentors in unexpected places – male and female – and owe a lot of my personal success to family members, friends and managers who have offered me insight into experience I didn’t have in my role at the time, or skills I needed to learnThe best mentors have been those willing to give me the feedback I needed in a way that I was able to hear it and act on it. My mentors have guided me in a variety of different ways, outside of just career advancement. I have also benefited from observing and studying the network of people around me, and how best to emulate the type of leader I want to be.  

3. Who is your most important role model? 

I have many important role models, so I will talk instead about the traits I think make a strong role model and the perspective they have given me over the years. I have always looked up to, and learned from, those who actively seek feedback, especially from a diverse set of people and perspectives. The best leaders take deliberate steps towards bringing many voices into their decision-making process. Not only does this help increase diversity and inclusion at all levels of business, but it also makes a difference in the quality of the work.   

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

My career at CME Group happened by chance. I was a liberal arts major in college and had planned to go to law school. was looking for a job that would let me work during the day, go to school at night, and pay for school without needing to take out student loans. Back then, 90% of trading was conducted in person with thousands of people screaming orders every day in the pitsIt was loud and fast-paced, but I loved the organised chaos and quickly realised the critical role these markets play in the global economy. It was during that time that I decided to focus on finance, which has given me a career I could never have imagined.   

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

Starting on a trading floor, I had to learn quickly how to make my voice heard.  My advice is to be your own advocate, and take charge of your own future. Don’t ever sit quietly because you feel like what you have to say isn’t as important as the person next to you or because you think someone else is smarter. More important than knowing the technology, or how to crunch the numbers, or how to sell something, is having common sense, thinking logically and having confidence in your ability and your ideas. And open yourself up to taking some risks. Those life changing detours can turn into a 30-year career before you know it.