Voices of the IIA – Suzanne Ropeta, Morningstar

Suzanne Ropeta MStar Indexes 2021

The Index Industry Association recently caught up with Suzanne Ropeta, Head of Global Marketing for Morningstar Indexes and Morningstar Sustainalytics to learn more about her background, current role and opportunities ahead for Morningstar.


Q: Tell us about your background in the index industry and your current role at Morningstar.

I am currently Head of Global Marketing for Morningstar Indexes and Morningstar Sustainalytics. In this role I head up a team of global professionals charged with promoting our global brand and supporting the business through traditional marketing, industry conferences and events, website, social media and communications.

My career in marketing indexes began at Russell Investments, when I joined Russell Indexes to work with a vibrant, energetic team of index enthusiasts. My next important career chapter began when the London Stock Exchange Group acquired Russell and combined FTSE and Russell Indexes. This is when my role expanded to become truly global. I was tasked with establishing regional marketing expertise to address the needs of a global client base and working with colleagues around the world to ensure our offerings were compelling and competitive. This was all in the context of integrating two strong regional index leaders into a global organization.

A little over three years ago I started a new chapter, joining Morningstar to design a global marketing program for an established, yet not well-known, index business. In addition, my role recently expanded to include working closely with our ESG research, data and ratings business, Morningstar Sustainalytics.


Q: What is the most exciting – and most challenging – aspect of your role right now?

When presented with the prospect of working for Morningstar, of course I was extremely excited. Given that Morningstar is such as trusted brand in the investment space and is a recognized leader in market and investment data, for me it felt like a good fit.

Starting with Morningstar Indexes, on the one hand we are a rapidly growing business which is exciting. On the other hand, we have had to put a number of new global programs and capabilities in place to support this growth. This can be exciting but also brings new challenges every day.

I’m also very excited about the opportunity to work more closely with my Morningstar Sustainalytics colleagues. My role expanded in mid-2023 to include our ESG ratings, research and data business and it has been challenging yet fascinating to grow this part of my portfolio of responsibilities.

At Morningstar, I’ve been so fortunate to have had the opportunity to work side-by-side with industry leaders - Ron Bundy, Pat Fay and many others - to support our clients in achieving their goals. I’m also fortunate to work with my global colleagues across functions and business lines. Together, we provide perspectives and experiences for clients that are uniquely Morningstar.


Q: As a leader, in what ways have you been able to empower and motivate your team?

Fostering a culture of trust, inclusivity and collaboration is first and foremost. I encourage the team to provide input, share ideas and take ownership of our strategy. Unique perspectives push boundaries and spark new ideas. I trust the expertise of our team and rely on them to contribute to our collective direction.

I also encourage team members to build bridges and establish strong connections across Morningstar. This is very important. Our underlying businesses within Morningstar each have their unique characteristics, but the additional differentiator for us will be how we tap into the power of the broader Morningstar. As a global organization, we have great opportunity to tap into the expertise of others and collaborate for efficiency, scale and reach. Morningstar promotes a strong culture of transparency and teamwork – our clients win when we come together to collectively deliver a superior experience.


Q: If you were to describe a key influencer in your career, who would this person be?

Early in my career, I was living in San Francisco and adapting to joining a bank following a job as a paralegal at a small law firm. Shortly after joining, the bank merged, became public, and an Investor Relations (IR) department was established. Knowing little about what a role in an IR department entailed, I joined the team, inspired by the new dynamic IR leader, curious about the inner workings of the executive office and interested in the opportunities that connectivity to Wall Street offered.  Little did I know that joining the small, mighty Communications team, led by a strong leader, would influence my path to where I am today.

I thrived in that role and developed great loyalty to my manager, team and company. At one point during this time, an alternative career opportunity arose that required a major leap at a significant risk. This was during the .com boom, when taking big risks was the norm. Despite an intense sense that I was making the wrong decision, I ultimately decided to accept the new role. Needless to say, I toiled over the resignation and finally developed the courage to break the news to my manager. He took it well and though disappointed, encouraged me to reconsider. The next day, I came into the office to find a handwritten note on my chair that read:

Suzanne -

I remembered the third state of recovery

-- BARGAINING (after denial & anger)

let me know if there is anything I can do to convince you to stay.


I stayed, continued to thrive and never regretted my decision.

Key takeaways from this experience –

Take risks – you never know what opportunities are around the corner.

Follow your instincts – you know yourself better than you think you do.

Go the extra mile - connect with your colleagues and have some fun - don't take things so seriously all   the time.

Never underestimate the value of an inspirational leader - learn from the best.

I have been fortunate to have several strong leaders throughout my career. And as a leader myself, the characteristics in my team members that I value most are intense curiosity, commitment to growth, a strong desire to deliver superior results and a healthy sense of humor. And I am always willing to give people that chance that I was lucky enough to have been given.

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