Witad Awards 2024: Vendor professional of the year (data and operations)—Joanna Davies, OSTTRA

Joanna Davies, head of trade processing at OSTTRA, wins vendor professional of the year (data and operations) in the 2024 Women in Technology and Data Awards.

Jo Davies, OSTTRA
Jo Davies, OSTTRA

How long have you been working in the financial services industry?
Joanna Davies, head of trade processing, OSTTRA: I have worked in financial services for more than 30 years.

How did you get into the industry? Was it a conscious decision or did you “fall” into it?
Davies: I got bitten by the financial services bug when I was a 16-year-old intern on the trading floor of the London Stock Exchange. Finance has evolved so rapidly over the years and of course everything’s electronic, but this was my first foray into financial services, and I loved it, and still do.

What does your day-to-day role entail?
Davies: As head of the trade processing commercial division at OSTTRA, I strategically direct and manage the company’s largest business division, combining the trade processing services previously operated by Traiana and MarkitServ, featuring a multi-asset network, supporting customers and partners to connect and process T+0 trades across rates, FX, credit and securities.

What single project/piece of work are you most proud of during your career in the industry to date?
Davies: The project I’m most proud of since joining the industry 33 years ago is contributing to the transformation of exchange-traded derivatives (ETDs) workflows. This problem really needed a community of participants to come together to agree solutions and how to implement them together. I have led that response for my firm, collaborated across the industry, contributed OSTTRA data to move this narrative forward, and guided a team who have answered the call to action and are justifiably proud of both the contribution to the industry conversation but also our ETD solution that helps every participant manage the operational risk associated with legacy flaws in this important workflow.

The project I’m most proud of since joining the industry 33 years ago is contributing to the transformation of exchange-traded derivatives workflows. This problem really needed a community of participants to come together to agree solutions and how to implement them together

What are you currently working on and what makes it significant in the context of your position?
Davies: What I am working on, along with my team in the trade processing division and the broader team at OSTTRA, is how we continue to drive down unacceptable levels of cost and risk by identifying consistent, agreed, actionable trade data, and enabling the persistence of this dataset across the post-trade lifecycle. Whether in ETDs, rates or indeed any other asset class, this facilitates a response to the call for standardization and efficiency as settlement cycles become ever shorter, and the ability to manage exceptions and thus risk becomes increasingly constrained.

To what extent were you helped during your career by a mentor/role model within the business?
Davies: I have been enormously lucky to have had a handful of important mentors who helped guide and shape my career since I entered the world of finance, and who still do so today. My first boss, Anna Mansfield, was a role model and illustrated how successful a young woman could be as a futures broker. She showed me that by being authentic, my gender was irrelevant in my gaining success and experience. I also had a collection of important male role models, who taught me to be unapologetically me, regardless of circumstance or situation. Thirty years later, I am lucky to be able to say that a number of these folks remain my friends and supporters and always have time for me if the need arises. This is a legacy I would very much like to work on with my company and the broader industry to pay forward and ensure that the next generation is as well supported.

To what extent does your firm have a formalized framework that seeks to identify and promote talented women and ensure they have every opportunity to realize their ambitions and contribute to the business?
Davies: We’ve been on a journey since our joint venture was founded in September 2021. Currently, 40% of our early careers colleagues, 30% of our senior leaders, and 25% of our executive committee are women. We support female colleagues in several ways, including through generous parental leave, flexible working arrangements, and CLIMB, our global network for women and allies. Checkpoints are built into all compensation, promotion, and succession processes to ensure fair outcomes and minimize any bias in decision-making. Several members of the executive team mentor women at all levels of the organization, me included.

What was the greatest obstacle you had to overcome during your career in the industry to date?
Davies: Dealing with the ups and downs of the financial markets, combining this fast-paced career with raising a family, and finding my voice and the confidence to be my authentic self in all situations has definitely been a defining challenge. But I have enjoyed every step and continue to think financial services is a fascinating industry with lots of opportunities for diverse talent to shine. Together with better post-trade operations and data for all asset classes, this is part of a legacy I want to build for the next generation.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far during your career?
Davies: Authenticity and resilience are key. Faced with market volatility and the time demands of family life, staying true to myself and finding my voice has been crucial. Balancing and enjoying both underscored the importance of self-awareness, perseverance, and embracing one’s whole identity in the face of challenges.

What would you advise women just entering the industry?
Davies: Embrace authenticity and believe in your capabilities—gender stereotypes shouldn’t limit success. Be unapologetically you—set your goals and boundaries and don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. Seek mentorship and support from both male and female role models within the industry. Build and maintain your networks and once you get there, consider how you can pay it forward.

What does this award mean to you?
Davies: I’m incredibly proud of this recognition as outstanding vendor professional in operations and data. It means more than just another trophy for my desk—it also validates all the hard work and time my team and I have been putting into the ETD workflow transformation initiative, together with our networks and the industry.

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