The WFE's Women Leaders 2023 - Catherine Clay, Executive Vice President, Digital and Data Solutions, Cboe Global Markets

By: Catherine Clay, Executive Vice President, Digital and Data Solutions, Cboe Global Markets Mar 2023

Name: Catherine Clay

Organisation: Cboe Global Markets

Job Title: Executive Vice President, Digital and Data Solutions

1. Brief description of nominee’s role and job:

Catherine Clay is executive vice president of Digital and Data Solutions at Cboe Global Markets. Cathy oversees the growth of the company’s Digital business, which includes a cryptocurrency exchange and clearing house, and explores new realms of opportunity, such as asset tokenisation, DeFi protocols and strategic partnerships. She also leads the Data and Access Solutions division, which builds on the foundation of Cboe’s global exchange data, and delivers transparent market intelligence to accelerate greater prosperity for global market participants. As Cboe expands its footprint in the increasingly intertwined data and digital asset spaces, Cathy identifies new areas for innovation and collaboration between the two business lines.

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

Prior to her current role, Cathy was executive vice president, global head of Data and Access Solutions at Cboe. Under her leadership, the Data and Access Solutions team simplified market complexities and supported sustainable investment outcomes for global market participants through a holistic offering of proprietary data, analytics and index offerings.

She joined Cboe as part of the company’s 2015 acquisition of LiveVol, where she was chief executive officer, after starting at the firm in 2010 as chief strategy officer. Cathy began her career as a clerk in Interactive Brokers’ market-making unit, Timber Hill, and progressed to lead market maker and director of floor trading and operations. In 2006, she left Timber Hill to co-found Thales LLC, a market-making firm on the NYSE Options Floor and on the OneChicago single stock futures exchange.  

Cathy holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Colorado, where she learned the art of Zamboni driving. She serves on the board of directors for the Greenwood Project, an organisation working to create career pathways in the financial-services industry for diverse, underrepresented students.

3. What were your professional highlights and challenges in 2022?

For many of us, 2022 was a two-act play. At the outset, uncertainty surrounding the Omicron variant of Covid renewed panic and fear that normal might be a distant destination. I am so proud of the way Cboe continued to thrive in a hybrid work environment – celebrating wins virtually and onboarding new associates remotely while maintaining a strong sense of community. As it became clear that Omicron – while still a concern for some – was less serious for most, we came back to the office to connect – meeting some team members live for the first time and reuniting with friends at conferences. Most importantly, we were able to meet with our customers face-to-face to discuss their challenges and priorities.

I spent most of 2022 trying to cram two years of missed meetings, drinks, handshakes, hugs and laughs into eight months. While this was very challenging, it was well worth the effort, as I missed the personal connections that are built around our amazing industry. I am also immensely proud of the hard work and dedication demonstrated by my team in the face of the pandemic. We experienced 16% year-over-year growth in our business segment and focused inward, completing challenging technical integrations of recent acquisitions and creating innovative offerings designed to provide market intelligence and solutions to help investors build sustainable financial futures. We also became the first major exchange operator to contribute market data to the Pyth network, delving into the exciting world of decentralised finance. In spite of the pandemic’s uncertainty, we collectively solidified a foundation that will serve us well for years to come.

4. What and who inspires, and has inspired, you to achieve your professional success?

Throughout my career in this mostly male-dominated industry, I have looked to amazing women in finance and beyond for inspiration and strength. Lynne Keck of Keck Securities, the only woman-owned firm on the floor of the Pacific Exchange, was an early inspiration for me. I was a market maker on the Pacific, and her strong presence was a constant inspiration.

I had the amazing experience of sitting next to Madeleine Albright on a flight from San Francisco to New York City. While it was brief encounter, her brilliance was undeniable. As the first woman to serve as the U.S. Secretary of State, she broke through barriers and inspired women across the world, including me.

While there are so many women that I have been awed by over the years, I would be remiss, however, if I did not give a nod to my first boss, Thomas Peterffy, founder and chairman of Interactive Brokers. Ahead of the curve for the shift to automated trading and brokerage functions, Thomas influenced my thinking on risk-taking, and taught me perseverance in the face of skeptics.

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

First, find your voice. Women are masters of communication, but too often we find doubt when we should find confidence. Practice speaking up and being heard. Make it a point to try in situations that are comfortable, gradually working up to more intense instances. If you need help, reach out to a mentor or friend for advice or support. Importantly, do not fear failure – we all stumble sometimes.

This brings me to my second point: be compassionate with yourself. We are our harshest critics, and the punishment we dole out in our heads is often far worse than any negative impact in reality. Had I not been willing to make mistakes while finding my voice, I would have missed the key opportunities that built my career.


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.