How the CFTC's Dawn Stump is still working

Part of an FIA series on people in the derivatives industry adapting to coronavirus challenges

10 June 2020


Dawn DeBerry Stump, Commissioner of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission

stump home office
CFTC Commissioner Dawn Stump at her home workstation.

What’s one significant way coronavirus has affected your work?

With fewer speeches and travel obligations, my time commitments have been redistributed. Part necessity and part circumstantial, I am focused on the more technical elements of my job. While both are important, I tend to prefer technician to orator anyway. Even so, this remote environment has forced me to adapt some of the more methodical approaches I typically apply. I normally print, read, highlight, tab, affix notes, and file for frequent re-examination most technical documents. (My husband claims I approach life much the same way, mentally cataloging my views and conversations to ensure easy recall decades later in the event he might challenge my recollection.) So, while I miss my meticulously organized position limits files (there are many) I have now adopted electronic annotation and filing. My laptop has never been more organized.

What’s a typical day like for you right now as we “shelter in place”?

Like others, I found the days in late March/early April to be a bit unwieldy and largely devoted to ensuring remote infrastructure operations could support market continuity and my Wi-Fi could support two “classrooms” and two “offices.” However, since mid-April I have restored some normalcy. Once my kids start their classes at 7:30, a.m. I am at my “desk” (aka the dining table) reading the overnight news, much as I would after taking them to school in our normal routine, only now I avoid commuting and I don’t wear a jacket (or lipstick). At 8:15, I participate in my son’s PE block and he normally beats me at basketball, though I can still hold a plank longer. Properly caffeinated by 9:00, we begin telephonic “meetings” with stakeholders and CFTC staff. Similar to being in the office, there is the frequent unforeseen dilemma that causes me to forget about lunch until mid-afternoon. Much to my kids’ dismay, we spend 30 minutes in the afternoon reviewing their school work -- I hope to once again prove proficient in fifth grade science and seventh grade geometry. I then return calls and respond to emails. Recognizing it is only temporary, I appreciate spending more evenings as a family, free of competing travel itineraries and extra-curricular activities.

What’s something that has given you hope for the future after this pandemic?

On Friday, March 13, the CFTC conducted a mandatory telework readiness exercise. Over that weekend, it became apparent that this was no longer “just a test.” While our current mode of operation was somewhat abrupt I am very proud of my CFTC teammates and the agency’s remarkable adaptability. As we encounter new challenges we will draw inspiration from the work ethic and commitment displayed in recent days.

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