As part of our on-going initiative to support women in Legal and Compliance, I had the pleasure this month of speaking with Eileen Merrigan who is the Global Compliance Director at Hartree Partners.
Eileen has over 12 years’ experience in the regulatory and compliance field and is currently leading a global team, which is responsible for coordinating compliance with international commodity derivative regulations (EMIR, Dodd-Frank, REMIT). I think Eileen is an excellent example of how you can make it in a male-dominated environment.
Why did you choose this industry?
“The industry chose me; I had a personal connection at FERC that called me right when I graduated grad school. I had a little bit of background with my engineering degree, and some relevant experience to the energy industry so it felt like the right fit.”
What have been the biggest challenges that you’ve faced in your career so far?
“This is a male dominated industry and being a part of compliance for front office does have its challenges. You have to have thick skin and be able to put bad days behind you. I have had to develop this attitude over time and not let affect things affect me personally.”
What do you consider to be your greatest career highlight so far?
“Moving from a regulatory agency to a trading firm was a big change, it was eye opening to see the world from the other side.”
What advice do you have to women who are moving in to leadership roles in the industry?
“Prepare to be second guessed, always have more information than you think you need and admit when you don’t know something. The more questions you ask the better you are prepared for the next challenge.”
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
“I have seen that women in this industry are primarily in back and middle office, support functions. There is a disparity between the number of female & male traders; the biggest challenge will be creating equality in this space as well as senior positions in the middle and back office. I have the impression a certain level of judgment can be passed on female capabilities within this industry.”
Do you see the industry changing?
“The commodity industry has always been an ‘old boys club’ and this is still reflected on the floor today. I think the change has to come from the banks first, which we have seen a little of, however I think it will be many years before we see an equal amount of women in trader and senior positions.”
Do you have a female mentor in the business?
“I haven’t. Nearly all my supervisors and all my business mentors have been male”
How do you see the future for women in compliance?
“Compliance is a job function that will not go away, so there are good opportunities if you have the drive and expanse of knowledge”
What are your ambitions for the future?
“To make the job more efficient, and have more opportunities to improve the business. A lot of compliance is reactive, the goal is to be proactive”
There are plenty more women out there like Eileen, and I plan to showcase others on my blog over the coming months. In the meantime, please do sign up to our LinkedIn group to find out more. [https://www.linkedin.com/groups/4807398].
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