Women Who Rocked the Finance World — Rosemary McFadden

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The finance world has been largely male-dominated to date. That’s no secret! But did you know that many women have also made their mark on the industry?

Yes! There have been feisty females throughout the ages who have pushed for change. And as Contentworks is a financial services marketing agency spearheaded by female CEOS with a passion for equality, we’ve been delving deeper into the lives of these game-changers.

In this article we’ll be looking at determined financial revolutionary Rosemary McFadden.

A Positive Start to a Prosperous Career

Having received a masters in business administration from Rutgers and a law degree from Seton Hall, Rosemary McFadden worked hard to secure a strong, academic background. This, in turn, kick started a career which would span the globe, break boundaries and ultimately make history.

The First Woman President of any US Stock Exchange

Having joined the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) in 1981 as a staff lawyer, McFadden quickly climbed the career ladder showcasing her savvy skills in the world of energy. While serving as Vice President, McFadden received a ground-breaking promotion in 1984 becoming the first woman President of any US stock exchange. Her achievement was even more notable considering NYMEX was the largest energy futures exchange in the world. As President, McFadden was tasked with overseeing the day-to-day operations of the exchange, making policy recommendations to the board of governments and supervising over 400 members of staff. She was paid a six-figure salary.

Continued Success and the Revolution of Oil Pricing

Forging professional relationships with senior government officials, industry executives and international press in London, Tokyo, Singapore and the Middle East, McFadden managed to grow NYMEX by a whopping 70% per year during her tenure. With McFadden at the helm, the successful crude oil options contract was also introduced, which became a benchmark for spot and futures trading. The contract ultimately changed the way oil was priced forever.

McFadden certainly made a mark with continued success helping her to become a key figure within the energy sector. The number of contracts traded on the exchange during McFadden’s leadership also jumped from 5 million in 1984 when she was first appointed to 34 million in 1988. NYMEX also added contracts including heating oil and gasoline options as well as a propane futures contract.

Overcoming Controversy and Skepticism

The finance world has long been male dominated. And when the board of governors of NYMEX closeted themselves within their World Trade Centre headquarters to elect a new leader, no-one quite expected the outcome. Emerging with the results just over an hour later, it was clear McFadden had become a trailblazer for other determined women in the financial workforce. A headline in The Times which was released before the digital age read: “In Powerful New Job. She Overcomes the Skeptics.

And McFadden wasn’t short of supporters despite public opinion at the time that women didn’t belong in such positions. Michel D. Marks, Chairman of the exchange and an early supporter of Miss McFadden for the presidency, said: ‘’Wall Street is not a woman’s world, and in international business, women are even less accepted. Many people expressed reservations to me about the fact that we had appointed a woman. There was no real concern about Rosemary herself but about appearances and tradition. She’s done well in overcoming those opinions.’’

‘’The board was looking for the most capable person for the job,’’ he added. ‘’There was no discussion of sex, none whatsoever. The exchange has been innovative and progressive over the last few years, and the decision of the board to promote Rosemary was a reflection of that tradition.’’

Confidence and Unshakable Determination

During an interview with The Streets for Women’s History Month 2018, McFadden was asked what it was like meeting some of the world’s most-renowned industry executives. Her answer really reflects how women were yet to be respected within the finance world by many professionals. It also showcases her unstoppable attitude.

This was the question: “Globally, you became a leader in the world of energy — you had to meet with tons of foreign government officials, industry executives, etc — what was that like back then? Any interesting stories you remember?”

And this was her answer: “Since part of my responsibility was to represent the Exchange in front of the private sector and governments both here and overseas, I felt the pressure to make sure that I was knowledgeable about all aspects of the oil sector including how deliveries were made as well as the hedging/trading opportunities and how the Exchange functioned.

One incident really stands out. The first time I was to meet one of the titans of the industry in Houston. I was ushered into his office. He sat behind his desk and said, “What can I do for you little lady?” Thought to myself — well you just wait till you see how your business is going to change.”

Life After the Exchange

After leaving the exchange, McFadden continued to take on key roles and remained a force in the expansion of global markets. She became part of senior management at the International Practice Group of Price Waterhouse spearheading projects across the globe. As Senior Vice President and Associate General Counsel at the Pershing Division of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, she also pursued many international initiatives before becoming the Director of Global Business Development for online brokerage firm DLJdirect. She is now the Managing Director at Credit Suisse First Boston.

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