Women on top! How did our astute female leaders rise to success?

Arguably one of the most famous post-war leaders, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, once said “If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.” Baroness Thatcher can be credited with raising the British economy and social environment out of the total desolation that encompassed it throughout the 1970s to prosperity […]

Arguably one of the most famous post-war leaders, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, once said “If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.” Baroness Thatcher can be credited with raising the British economy and social environment out of the total desolation that encompassed it throughout the 1970s to prosperity and empowerment, taking initiatives to inject pride into small business owners.

Baroness Thatcher achieved what appeared impossible. She took a bankrupt nation which had lost hope, with a three day working week and refuse piled up on the streets, trade unions waging war against industry, and people with lost hope, living in dilapidated, state-owned homes and turned it around, empowering the working classes with clever initiatives that allowed them to own their own homes and businesses, take individual pride in their ability to succeed and the entire fabric of society benefited until this day, the children of the people in which Margaret Thatcher believed, now successful due to the prosperity of their parents. During the 1980s, London’s electronic trading and banking sector flourished, and is still the number one institutional and interbank FX center in the entire world.

Did it take a female mind to do this? Was Margaret Thatcher the country’s mother who cared for its well being as well as its prime minister?

It could be debated that there is something in this, and in our industry it is possible to see very successful female executives, who lead large FX companies, technology vendors and liquidity firms. Far outnumbered by male executives, those at the very top have attributes that perhaps echo this line of thinking.

Woman on Top of the Forex industry

Top left- Mehtap Onder, Regional Director, CFH Clearing, Right- Natallia Hunik, Global Head of Sales, Advanced Markets and Fortex. Bottom left- Diana Munoz, Independent FX Business Development Exec.


Mehtap Onder is Regional Director at CFH Clearing Limited. With a masters degree in Law from Copenhagen University in Denmark, Ms. Onder rose through the ranks at CFH Clearing after joining the firm in May 2011 as Legal and Compliance Consultant. In March 2014, after two years as Head of Legal Onboarding, Ms. Onder became Regional Director.

If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman – Margaret Thatcher.

Ms. Onder detailed her professional ethos to FinanceFeeds, explaining that she places professional integrity as a very high priority. “I don’t believe in any shortcuts; at the end of the day you will be rewarded by the extra hours and effort you put into your work – as was the case for me” she said.

“When the opportunities arise I’ll take the chance even if it involves a high risk of failure. The key thing is having the right attitude. Also, I think it is important to look beyond your diploma, your current job description and comfort zone in order to enhance your career.”

The boardroom is not the place for the battle of the sexes

As far as differentials between the ladies and gentlemen of the industry, Ms. Onder does not view the boardroom as a battleground for superiority. “I don’t think there are any real outstanding factors that stands one against another. Surely men and women are different, however the genders don’t come with any inherited advantages or disadvantages in business or life.”

“During my career I have always ignored any gender related headwinds, as this does not have any productive purposes. My approach to business is to let the results speak for themselves and to step up and speak up – especially in difficult situations – without compromising your integrity” concluded Ms. Onder.

Natallia Hunik, Global Head of Sales at Advanced Markets LLC & Fortex Inc. had an international career at Boston Technologies until assuming her senior executive position at Advanced Markets.

Among her achievements was the establishment of Boston Technologies’ Shanghai office, bringing $2 million of revenue in less than a year from that particular division.

Ms. Hunik told FinanceFeeds “”In FX, I didn’t start at the top. I started as a “do it all” customer service representative, account manager, project manager and sales person at a Boston-based FX technology startup, pitching for business and supporting a product in its initial stage around the clock, under the extreme pressure of powerful clients looking for answers yesterday and pushing for immediate problem resolutions.”

“Making my way, often times I was the only woman on the executive team, the only woman at the client meetings and the first woman that men had ever seen on the management team of an FX company. That may sound challenging but it pushed me outside of my comfort zone and served as motivation to over-achieve and outperform” concurred Ms. Hunik.

“I learned to use this to my advantage. Being the only woman in the room made me memorable. It set me apart and even in the cultures where women are not actively participating in the workforce, companies will always take a meeting with me as a combination of “a woman and a boss” probably sounded intriguing and worth looking at. And although it takes an extra mile for a young woman to establish credibility, once it’s earned a very strong and long lasting relationship is formed” she said.

Top ladies are making great strides in FX

In terms of female leadership and the increasing presence of executives in the FX industry who are women, Ms. Hunik said “As the FX industry grows and develops though, I see more women in the industry making great strides, taking on leadership positions and breaking through stereotypes. This is very inspiring, and as I meet female colleagues from the industry at various events, I always admire their calibre, character and charisma.”

“As for some of the qualities and attributes that helped me along the way, I don’t think there are any secret ones – I just used my natural attributes as a woman. There are just certain things that I believe women are better at, like being more democratic, empathetic and loyal. All of these helped me to create strong, stable and high-performing teams. From my personal experience, I have found women to be competent, caring and fair leaders.”

“I have hired women to lead offices overseas, sell products and handle clients’ needs and every experience was a success as they were always reliable, trustworthy and great communicators. I have no doubt that women can bring a new special sparkle to any business, and in my opinion, progressive companies that capitalize on talented women leaders will do better as they will benefit from diversity that encourages innovation. With 40 % of their staff woman in various key roles, Advanced Markets and Fortex are proud to have organizational approaches that take advantage of the value that women add” concluded Ms. Hunik.

Diana Munoz, a senior executive who is extremely well connected among the Cyprus FX industry leaders, is a case in point also. She today explained how the correlation between political diplomacy and forging commercial relationships in the FX business forged her career.

“Swapping a political background for an FX one seemed a natural process since both industries have similarities in that they are both male dominated and require a steel determination to achieve any level of recognition, let alone be able to sit on any executive throne. But those who know me well know that I am a natural rebel and find any kind of obstacle or hurdle a challenge.”

“I plunged into the world of FX in 2007 when I first arrived in Cyprus, and immediately started working with MetaQuotes. That provided a behind the scenes tuition of how trading platforms work, in particular the traders number 1 choice the MT4, and naturally this incredible insight prepared me for the FX brokers I next ventured into” continued Ms. Munoz.

unnamedShe said “I was fortunate enough to work with FX brokers such as XM, CommexFX and finally Fidelis Capital Markets. They all proved to be an inspiration and definitely a source of education; from starting as just another body on customer support desk I quickly rose ranks to handle sales and retention, most of this success was due to my communication and linguistic skills, speaking to a number of clients in different languages and tackling an array of issues, from unhappy clients to extremely satisfied ones.”

“Problem solving and solid retention became the key factors at work and I excelled at them. Soon, I progressed to Business Development Manager which was more complex, required more analytical skills and planning. I soon achieved an impressive client portfolio and was able to identify target audiences for our business model. At CommexFX, extensive travelling became part of the job and I loved every minute of it. My presence at various FX shows and expos abroad not only promoted the broker itself but also this exciting and booming industry.”

“In no time at all I became well known in an industry which only has 5% of women in executive roles. This did not deter me at all; I travelled with males, I discussed business with them, I socialized with them and I ate with them. I did not witness any gender specific characteristics myself, and when I was approved by CySEC to become Executive Director at Fidelis Capital Markets I received more congratulations and pats on my back than actual sneers.”

“It is a known fact that those 5% of women executives in the FX industry are exceptional leaders and their companies become incredibly successful. Many are the reasons why there are more men than women in the FX industry, some are complex and some are just a fact; men are more aggressive and more driven, they can commit themselves more to such a demanding industry, whereas women have to raise families and so on. The arguments are vast and varied but from my own experience I can confirm that when a woman achieves FX Stardom in this male dominated industry, she receives more admiration and support than back stab wounds. In fact I believe that FX males are hoping to see more females join the FX world and are eager to welcome a testosterone and estrogen decorated industry!”


Photographs: Above image – Andrew Saks-McLeod talks to Natalia Hunik in New York about the new Fortex Web Trader, and its entry into the Far East. Featured image – Natalia Hunik, Global Head of Sales, Advanced Markets & Fortex

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