The WFE's Women Leaders 2021 - Gay Huey Evans, Chairman, London Metal Exchange

By: The WFE Focus Team Mar 2021

Nominee’s name: Gay Huey Evans

Member: Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing

Nominee’s job title: Chairman, London Metal Exchange


1. - Brief description of nominee’s role/job:

As Chairman of the London Metal Exchange (LME), I work closely with the LME Board, CEO and LME’s parent company, HKEX. Since taking up my role as Chairman of the LME in 2019, I have supported and steered a number of key projects – from the major technology infrastructure rebuild, to the diversity and inclusion agenda and sustainability initiatives.

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

I am the Chairman of the London Metal Exchange and also serve on the Boards of Standard Chartered, ConocoPhillips, IHS Markit and Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT). I am a Trustee of Benjamin Franklin House; serving as Senior Adviser to Chatham House, and am a member of the US Council on Foreign Relations.

Having worked for over 40 years in the financial and commodity industry, as both an established market practitioner and a markets regulator, my expertise lies in commerce, risk, governance, policy and regulation in capital markets. I was awarded an OBE in 2016 for services to the financial service industry and diversity, and am an advocate for ensuring markets build trust through accessibility and transparency and for increased diversity in business.

I have previously served on the Boards of Itau BBA International, the Financial Reporting Council, Aviva and the London Stock Exchange and have held executive roles with Barclays Capital, Citi, the Financial Services Authority and Bankers Trust.

Hobbies: My hobbies include tennis, skiing, hiking, walking, cooking, music and singing.

3. - What were your professional highlights and challenges of 2020?:

One of the aspects that drew me to the commodity industry lies in my belief that industry and markets have the power to transform mining – at this most critical juncture – as we focus on transitioning to a sustainable global economy. Mining has the power to keep economies and communities afloat, and by harnessing technology and working together we can also achieve the world’s sustainability goals because without metals, we will not have the materials to transition to a low carbon economy.

So, the progress that the LME has made towards its sustainability goals is definitely one of my highlights of 2020. Specifically, the sustainability strategy which lays out a number of tools and services to bring greater transparency of and access to sustainable metal. LMEpassport, for example, which launches this summer, will create a centralised digital register of metals’ sustainability credentials, allowing industry participants to view the individual credentials pertaining to how a given batch of metal was produced, all on a voluntary basis. This is designed to increase transparency, utilising the power of technology to facilitate the achievement of our sustainability goals.

Another highlight was working closely with the executive team at the LME on these projects, including our CEO, Matt Chamberlain, with whom I really enjoy working. A strong and mutually respectful relationship between a CEO and a Chairman is key to an organisation’s progress and success.

The challenge of 2020, as it was for many, was ensuring the health and wellbeing of the LME community – internally and externally. The pandemic has had a tangible impact on the LME and the industries it serves, from delays in supply chains to very difficult decisions focused on our traditional practices, such as temporarily closing the open outcry Ring. We spent a significant amount of time considering various ways of keeping the Ring open that could also keep our people safe, from plexiglass to thermometers, but we realised that it would be impossible to balance the operation of the Ring with the health and safety of all.

Despite these challenges, I am incredibly proud of and impressed by how everyone at the LME has adapted and continued to progress our multiple workstreams and initiatives.

4. - What and who inspires/has inspired you to achieve your professional success:

My inspiration to work hard originates from my father who used to say; “I do not care what you do in life but do it well. Whatever it is, give it your all.” I grew up during a time where having a mentor was rare, and there weren’t many women in positions of seniority, so my inspiration had to come from simply wanting to keep going and doing whatever I was doing well.

Another source of inspiration for me is Janet Yellen, the current United States Treasury Secretary. I have known her since the 90s, and she has always been confident, knowledgeable, thoughtful and kind. She has achieved her success without stepping over people, but through true dedication and hard work, which is truly inspiring. She also always makes time for the people she knows, regardless of her situation, which is a real mark of character. A memory that sticks out here is from the day of the financial crash in 2008. Janet and I had a meeting scheduled, while I was in San Francisco (she was president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco at the time). Despite the chaos and panic of that day, a day of crisis really for Janet and her team, she didn’t cancel our meeting and still made time for me.

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

My advice would be to work hard and know your subject matter. Those two things will get you a seat at the table, but you need to find your own voice to be heard. I have always found it important to network and build strong relationships with peers based on respect; this will give you confidence to speak out, ask the unusual questions and be heard. We are there to provide diversity of thought so don’t hold back.

I would also add that it is incredibly important to take time out for yourself. As a woman, we take on many roles — mother, daughter, sister, wife, worker bee — so I believe that to grow, you need time to get to know yourself better. Find your passion, be curious, take time to think about what you want to know about, and don’t be afraid to take risks.