Federica Mazzucato is global head of execution and clearing services at UBS, with responsibility for the bank’s exchange-traded derivatives business across execution and clearing, OTC clearing and FX prime services.
Mazzucato began her career, not in finance, but as a particle physicist conducting research at CERN and teaching physics at the University of Geneva. Her career in finance began in 2003 when she joined UBS in market risk control. In 2010, she moved to the front office and held various positions in emerging markets trading and FX, managing risk, capital, funding and client optimization. In 2014, she was appointed global head of FX prime services. Her remit was expanded to include UBS’s exchange-traded derivatives and OTC clearing business in 2018.
“I joined the ETD business with different experiences in risk, resource optimization, balance sheets, client profitability and so on, which have been key elements in helping me navigate and connect all these businesses,” she says.
Mazzucato says a key influence throughout her career has been her family.
“I never felt myself different, and part of that is education and part of it is my family. I've been raised in an environment where, in my family, women have worked and have been educated for generations and they shared responsibilities with their husbands. It’s important that in your mind, you really think about yourself as equal and about private workload sharing as balanced, so that whatever set-up you agree for yourself, with your family, your partner, you have the opportunity and support to be equally successful professionally, if you wish to do so.”
Speaking about the state of diversity in the industry, Mazzucato observes two encouraging trends from when she started out 20 years.
“Today there are more women in senior roles, in positions of decision-making with the ability to influence and move things. The clearing area is a very good example of where progress has been made,” she says.
“When I look at our clearing business, it is balanced. In the trading businesses, like the execution side of the business, there is a smaller proportion of women, so it’s important to grow and nurture junior talent and support them through their development,” she says.
Mazzucato is a passionate supporter of diversity and junior talent, and for seven years chaired the UBS Investment Bank Swiss Diversity and Inclusion Committee.
“What is encouraging is that we are seeing the next generation of women who are talented, motivated, very happy to engage and trade, and not afraid to evolve in what is still a fairly male-dominated environment. A lot are entering with a passion, a lot of personality and success, and it’s nice to see this progress.”
Mazzucato advises women looking to advance their careers to senior level positions to “be brave, not perfect.”
“It is important to take some risk. My career has jumped around and some of those jumps were pretty big and I was pretty nervous, like when I moved from physics to banking, when I was asked to run my first business and I had never run a business before. My observation is women are cautious, and they tend to be a bit more risk-averse than men and hence, sometimes opportunity passes by."
Mazzucato also sits on a number of boards including FIA’s board of directors.
“There are challenges still in the industry and women are still a very big minority. On a lot of the committees and senior decision-making bodies I sit in – not at FIA now – I am still the only woman running a business or having this type of responsibility. My generation will probably not reach a perfect equality, but we can be the conduits to make a huge step forward for future generations,” she says.
“I feel we bear a responsibility for other women to follow, to leave the industry in a much better shape than it was when we joined. Not being afraid to speak up in those committees, to show different perspectives and educate people by our presence and our way to act. The last thing we want is a generation of senior women who have learned to behave like men to conform,” she says.
“I think there is a responsibility for all of us to live and put forward our diversity, beyond gender, because that's the way it will start trickling down the system.”