The WFE's Women Leaders 2024 - Anja Kiessling, Chief Financial Officer of European Energy Exchange

By: Anja Kiessling, Chief Financial Officer of European Energy Exchange AG, Deutsche Börse AG Mar 2024

Name: Anja Kiessling
Deutsche Börse AG
Job Title: 
Chief Financial Officer of European Energy Exchange AG


1. Brief job description 

The European Energy Exchange (EEX) is part of EEX Group, a leading market platform for energy and commodities products in more than 30 countries around the world. Together with our customers, we build secure, successful, and sustainable markets for power, gas, environmental, freight and agricultural contracts. EEX represents the commodities business of Deutsche Börse Group.

As CFO, I am responsible for the finance-related functions, such as accounting, tax, management reporting and budgeting, treasury, as well as several corporate functions such as purchasing and facility management. I am also a member of the supervisory board of EPEX Spot, the leading exchange for power spot markets in Europe.

2. Short biography

I have a degree in Business Administration, and I later qualified as certified accountant. Before my appointment as CFO in 2020, I had served EEX in various areas since 2008. After starting my career in a large auditing and consulting firm, I joined the Market Operations department of EEX, which was an ideal way to understand the energy trading business. Given my background, I soon moved on to the finance area, where I worked mostly in managerial functions in the Controlling and Accounting departments.

My free time largely belongs to my family, with two school-aged boys. Besides the privilege of having a truly interesting job, I always enjoy learning something new – whether it’s in business matters, skills, or culture and languages. I also like listening to podcasts, and outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling.

3. What were your professional highlights and challenges in 2023?

The two years since 2021 were very turbulent for energy markets, and our customers in Europe: Following Covid-19, the economic upturn led to a gas supply shortage in 2021. This was followed by the war in Ukraine and its impact on European energy markets in 2022, great uncertainty about the supply security of natural gas and energy in general, as well as ongoing high prices and unprecedented volatility in energy markets. During this time, it was our utmost priority and a challenge to maintain a robust and transparent price formation process, and to always ensure that markets remained open and orderly. We are very proud of our team and that together we were able to achieve this goal. In this extraordinary situation, the role of EEX Group became obvious: while the exchanges provide transparency and significantly contribute to the security of supply, our clearing houses ensure the fulfilment of all concluded transactions, even in case of a counterparty’s default.

The overall situation has eased since winter 2023; due to constantly falling energy price levels and price volatility, the collateral requirements for our customers eased significantly over time. Consequently, more capital was available again for investments – and wholesale markets did recover. We were able to keep our customers’ trust and maintain the high market shares of the past year, so that in 2023, we again saw substantial growth in the volume of our European and US energy contracts to unprecedented levels on our platform.

In terms of budget management and financials, we addressed the volatility and uncertainty by frequently forecasting and reviewing budgets during the year, including gradual releases of cost budgets, to ensure that EEX’s financial footing remained stable.

At the same time, we strive to foster sustainability and want to help decarbonising in the energy world. For example, we have launched a global carbon index and the first green hydrogen price index this year. This significantly contributes to creating price transparency and is a key precondition to creating liquid markets. Moreover, we have developed an auction platform for hydrogen, with Germany’s hydrogen import initiative, H2Global, being the first customer to use this platform. These are exciting initiatives. Also related to sustainability, we are preparing for new reporting standards according to the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD), which contains new rules concerning the social and environmental information to be disclosed to investors and stakeholders.

With regards to more finance-related matters, the turnaround to positive interest rates was a trigger for us to expand our treasury function and develop new mechanisms and processes for effectively managing and investing our funds. This project was very prominent in my area in 2023.

4. Tell us about a few of your key achievements?

While individual contributions are important, big achievements are usually the result of great teamwork.

A few years into my first management role, I realised that everything was flowing well in what we could call the “performing” stage. There was a bunch of people knowing so well what they were doing, committed, well connected, and respected, always striving to improve, and strongly supporting each other. I was very proud to be part of this.

During my time at EEX Group, there were some key transactions that brought the organisation to today’s reach and structure. The first was the integration and full consolidation of EPEX Spot and Powernext in 2015 – with both companies headquartered in Paris and operating European power spot and natural gas markets. Subsequently, a “group creation project” was launched to combine the different exchanges into a more powerful group, to harmonise processes while keeping up the individual strengths of the entities, and to connect people from all group entities to create a new, common corporate culture. It was a true intercultural experience for the whole company, and we were able to build up very good working relations and an effective cooperation model within the finance area.

The largest acquisition in the history of EEX was that of the US-based Nodal Exchange and Nodal Clear in 2017. As part of the team preparing the transaction from EEX’s side, I was responsible for large parts of the finance workstream, in great collaboration with a few key colleagues, and our external advisers. And we are very pleased with how the Nodal team has developed the US commodities business since then. Nodal has achieved new trading records this year and continues to be the market leader in North American power futures.

5. Who and what inspires you to achieve your professional success? 

Throughout my studies and my professional life, I have met many people with whom I collaborated well, and good working relations usually leave both sides a bit wiser. There is not one role model for me as a leader, but there are many positive examples. I do admire and appreciate people who have a clear vision, passion and knowledge of their field, and who possess an inner compass for fairness, who are committed to their team and who lead by example.

There were several people, male and female, in different phases who believed in my ability and who gave me the chance to assume further responsibility. One of them was my former CFO who I worked with for 10 years. Next to that, my husband was crucial and reassuring in all decisions.

6. How have you overcome setbacks, and what have you learned from adversity?

Perseverance wins. Try to learn from situations that did not work out well and try a different way next time.

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

Being in a leadership position was never an objective in my career plan. I was always motivated by taking on interesting, purposeful jobs – and to do my part well, always delivering on the commitments I have made. Looking back, I believe that I received the opportunity to work in leadership positions exactly because of this – mastering my current position, being willing to learn and not shying away from assuming additional responsibility. I think it helps to work in a field that you are truly interested in, and to drive things yourself, to develop your skills – not because it grants the next promotion, but because it is rewarding to contribute. In my case, this was the way to go.

What is important, in my view, if you envisage having children? It is hard to succeed if your network is not strong enough, and you do not have as much time to work as you would like. It may be helpful to discuss the future roles of each partner before the family is started. Who will work how much, and who else can support the family if both partners want to work full time?

I found it rewarding to work close to full time, also as a young mother, and I believe it is an advantage if you aspire to be in a leadership position. It gave me the opportunity to better master my job, to be involved in more communication, and to take in more useful information and news than I would otherwise have been able to. This required sharing the childcare equally from the beginning. We are managing well as a family, based on full mutual support, and respect for each other’s professional activities – and with the great help of other family members.


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.