Women in Fintech: Marion Leslie of SIX

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As The Fintech Times celebrates Women in Fintech this September, we take a moment to hear more from some of its leading females. 

Marion Leslie is an Executive Board Member and Head of Financial Information at SIX, a position she took on in January 2020. In her current role, she leads the financial information business, working in partnership with clients and industry partners to build the business for the future.

As Executive Board Member, Marion is also responsible for SIX as a whole, working closely with the other business units, delivering value to customers through the assets of the company. Marion is involved with the new SIX Digital Exchange where new technology investments, new ecosystems for transaction, tokenisation and end-to-end data management capabilities are being developed and sponsors the data and analytics strategy across SIX as a whole.

Previously, Marion was a Managing Director Enterprise at Refinitiv responsible for the global business line serving financial institutions globally, fuelling trading applications the world over.

Tell us a bit about your journey… 

Marion Leslie

After graduating as a linguist, I joined Reuters (now Refinitiv) as a Data Analyst. My very first job was ringing up banks to source terms and conditions for the Swiss bond markets. I built my early career in data management and data technology, progressing into leadership roles, initially leading teams across Europe and then globally. I lived in India for 4 years, setting up an operational centre in Bangalore, before transitioning to business leadership roles, I led regulatory, pricing and reference data business lines and more recently enterprise market data, delivering real-time data feeds, analytics, data management and distribution platforms to financial service customers globally. 

When I graduated a career in data did not have the attraction that it does today! But it has enabled me to live and work internationally and do some really exciting roles. I joined SIX in January 2020, moving to Zurich.

What’s does your day job look like?

I am an executive board member of SIX, on the board of the BME, and I head the Financial Information business. I work with my team to deliver value to our customers across the globe, providing critical data services. In collaboration with our clients and partners, I set the overall strategy for the business, developing services that take the operational pain of data management away from our customers and powering their business activities with data fuel. Our tax and regulatory data services are second to none with natural extensions into ESG and analytics.

What achievement are you most proud of?

Often the hardest challenges are the ones that are the most rewarding. If I have to pick one thing, it would be the time I spent in Bangalore, creating a brand new operation from scratch to over 2000 people covering multiple functions. Today it is over 5000 people and I continue to see people I hired back then in senior roles in the industry across the globe. I am really proud of what we achieved as a team and I count it as one of my career highlights. I learned a lot about leadership, cultures and myself through the personal challenge of moving there with a young family coupled with the intensity of creating a start-up in India operating 24/7.

Right now, I feel hugely privileged to be an executive board member of SIX, on the board of the BME and leading the Financial Information business, which has such great assets and huge potential. 

What are your thoughts on women in fintech? 

Progress is painfully slow no matter which dimension you look at: fintech, entrepreneur funding, pay gaps, board and senior executive roles. It is 2020 and Wall Street has just appointed its first female CEO. Data, transparency and reporting help, as does investor action, voluntary codes and legislation.

I believe that when it comes to the actual experience of women in the workplace, micro-decisions have an impact – the unseen decisions that add up and impact a person’s career over time: who does the pitch, leads the project, goes to the board meeting, speaks on the panel. Each organisation has a different starting point and the intent and sponsorship has to come from the top.

SIX, the oldest fintech in Switzerland, has committed to grow the percentage of women on each middle and top management level to a minimum of 25% by 2023. 

What are you most looking forward to career-wise?

My three aims this year at SIX are to improve customer satisfaction, boost performance and implement a growth strategy based on the solid foundations of the company. Whilst 2020 has presented a number of challenges with Covid-19, my team has continued to provide great stability and support to our customers, whilst launching new data services, including in the cloud. 

Longer-term, I have my sights set on releasing the full power of the data sets that SIX has across the company, developing new services, insights and analytics in cloud as well as via our trusted and established data feeds, and working with SIX Digital Exchange to create a seamless digital data ecosystem. We have the opportunity to rip up the rulebook and create end-to-end data management services that truly transform the way that data is done. That’s why I am here.

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