The WFE's Women Leaders 2021 - Bethany Netzel, Managing Director, CME Group

By: The WFE Focus Team Mar 2021

Nominee’s name: Bethany Netzel

Member: CME Group

Nominee’s job title: Managing Director, Global Head of Business Continuity and Security


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

Bethany Netzel serves as CME Group’s Managing Director responsible for Operational Resiliency, Disaster Recovery, Crisis Management, Vendor Risk Management, Operational Risk and Global Security. She specialises in developing global programs, implementing leading practices and ensuring compliance within the shifting regulatory landscape.

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

Netzel has worked in the financial sector since 1998 and has been focused in the trading arena since 2002. Prior to joining CME Group, she served as Chief of Staff to the COO in BP’s Natural Gas and Power Trading organisation.

Netzel represents CME Group on the Executive Committee for the Financial Services Sector Coordinating Council (FSSCC), the Executive Advisory Group of the Financial Services – Information Sharing and Analysis Center (FS-ISAC) and as Secretary and a Board Member of ChicagoFirst.

Netzel earned a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University in Ohio and an MBA from Loyola University Chicago. She also holds a Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP) Certification from the Disaster Recovery Institute.

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

2020 was the most difficult year of my career, but it was also the year that I experienced the most professional growth. There have been so many moments throughout this year that have forced me to rely on skills you wouldn’t normally need to deploy in your day-to-day career: bravery, resilience, comfort with uncertainty. My team actually sent me a set of Russian nesting dolls as a gift because there have been so many decisions to make that contain multiple levels of complexities around strategy and execution, often without a lot of good data to rely on.

One of the most challenging moments came during the early days of the pandemic. My team and I had been monitoring as the number of Covid-19 cases continued to rise throughout the world. I will never forget watching the red dots multiply and spread globally on the John Hopkins screen, and the faces of my colleagues when we realized CME Group needed to shut down our largest offices to keep our employees safe. This was something that had never been done before, and we had to adapt and find ways to keep the business resilient even in unprecedented circumstances.

We’ve had to pivot throughout the year in the way we respond to emergencies in a remote work environment. For example, snowstorms or power outages that have cut critical employee’s power became a whole different level of challenge in this environment. I’m proud that we’ve been able to use the resiliency strategies that we had in place to make the best decisions for our people and our company.

Another accomplishment I’m particularly proud of in 2020 is being tapped to create a tri-sector playbook between the financial, communications and electrical industries. We successfully created a response plan at the beginning of last year. As the pandemic began to ramp up, we were more easily able to share information and collaborate between industries.

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

I’ve been fortunate to have great mentors who I can look up to and emulate. Both CME Group’s COO Julie Holzrichter and my previous boss, Orlando Alvarez at BP are confident, big thinkers who really know their craft. What I also love is that they are both very personable and caring individuals. That’s something I want my own team to feel: that in addition to challenging them to deliver their best, they know they are a priority for me, especially in these challenging times.

I am always inspired by pushing the boundaries of what is possible and reverse thinking. I continue to encourage my team to think about responding to “extreme but possible” events, and that’s helped us to be successful, particularly this year. If you never get out of your comfort zone, you never grow.

I’ve always felt like a bit of an underdog, so I always feel like there is more to accomplish and new precedents to set. I grew up in a very small town in Ohio and didn’t have exposure to a lot of opportunities growing up. Prior to 2020, I’m not sure if most people were aware of what Business Continuity was. It’s very inspiring for me to hear positive feedback from throughout our company on how our team’s hard work is making a tangible difference.

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

As a working mom, my advice would be not to completely compartmentalise the person you are at work and who you are at home. There are some aspects of being a parent that make you a better leader at work, and vice-versa. If you try to separate the two completely, you lose some of yourself and miss out on those benefits. I’ve noticed some women are afraid to talk about parenting at work, but the shift to a work-from-home environment has shown us, more than ever, that those are not separate worlds.

For example, I was recently on a difficult call and my daughter interrupted to ask me to help her find her princess shoes. Everyone laughed, and it brought a moment of humour and humanity to the situation. We are all in this together, and many of your colleagues are going through the same challenges.

I’d also recommend finding other female peers, either within your organization, your industry or among your friends. In my experience, it really helps to have a safe place to talk out issues and bounce ideas off them. When you get to a position of leadership, people sometimes clam up and you don’t always get honest feedback – and you need that to continue to grow.