The IIA recently sat down with Cboe Senior Director of Index Governance Lauren Young to talk about, among other topics, her role at Cboe, what she’s most excited about and how she defines leadership.
Q: What do you enjoy most about your role at Cboe?
One thing I greatly enjoy about my role within Cboe Global Indices is being a part of the broader Cboe organization. The culture within our firm embraces individuality, ingenuity, and empowerment in a way that feels entrepreneurial, yet we are a large organization with a long history (2023 marks our 50th anniversary) and multiple business lines that reach across the spectrum of the financial market. One of my favorite quotes states “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” My role at Cboe allows me to be in a variety of rooms with so much opportunity to learn from my colleagues. Cboe has a strong culture of compliance, but it is the culture of curiosity and possibility underlying the day-to-day that shines for me.
Q: What do you find the most challenging about your role?
The most challenging aspect of my role as the head of governance for Cboe Global Indices is that my crystal ball has a crack in it. By this I mean we can’t predict the future and the environment is constantly changing. Ensuring we are prepared as regulation (direct and indirectly) evolves is paramount. Additionally, the markets are in a constant state of innovation, and it’s vital we stay on our front foot and prepared to dive in (or step back) on new asset classes, strategies, and/or arenas to remain competitive. These challenges are not ones I face alone and I’m grateful for the depth of talent and technical agility inherent at Cboe.
Q: How do you think the index industry is doing in terms of inclusive leadership & women in key roles?
During my last 13 years in the index industry, I have witnessed a positive pivot in the industry towards recognizing the importance of diversity and inclusion, in particular with leadership. In the past few years, the conversations have continued to dive deeper, sometimes uncomfortably, into the systemic biases that undeniably have existed in the financial services industry for decades. That being said, a superficial review of the “About Us” corners on websites across the industry shows the gender imbalance that still exists in leadership. At Cboe, there has been a conscious effort to hire an inclusive team with the intention to train a diverse set of future leaders. Firms are committed to advancing diversity and inclusion and progress is being made; I’m optimistic that the industry will continue on its trajectory towards a more equitable future.
Q: What is one of the key challenges – or you can call it opportunity – facing the index industry?
One key opportunity in the index industry is to further marry transparency with investor education. Index companies at their core are B2B firms – and often serve regulated advisors that offer products to retail investors. Index providers maintain high transparency and the more we can educate all levels of market participants from Wall Street to Main Street about the benefits of indices, their objectives, construction, and potential outcomes the better. This is especially relevant as passive investing continues to increase its share of the market.
Q: What excites you most about the year ahead?
Since joining Cboe in 2022, I have been collaborating with teams across the organization as we reimagine and solidify frameworks to position us to expand our index business in a sound, sustainable, and scalable manner. I am most excited and energized this year to enter the next phase of our evolution as we explore opportunities to serve the needs of the market with new indices that leverage our tried-and-true proprietary methodologies as well as potentially expand beyond our core derivatives and equity asset class-based offerings. As a member of the IIA and in line with our core principles, we are focused on ensuring all of the solutions we deliver are transparent, reliable, and easily understood.
Q: Have you had female mentors, formal or informal, in your career and how have they helped you?
I am grateful for the opportunities I’ve had with formal coaching and mentoring programs (both as a mentee and a mentor) and informally with senior female (and male!) leaders in the industry. In my experience, formal programs enable a more ‘academic’ means for constructing a ladder for success. They typically entail frameworks, guidelines, and goal posts that serve as a tangible roadmap for personal development. The informal relationships I’ve developed in this realm unfolded more organically and have allowed me to build a strong support network. All of these encounters have been invaluable in allowing me to push beyond comfort limits and grow in my career.
Q: How do you define leadership?
I define leadership as the ability to inspire others to come with you as you work towards a shared vision while fostering an open and inclusive environment that enables people to be their best selves.
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