Managing director and global head of metals products
Jin Chang has spearheaded growth in CME Group's metals business since joining in 2011. Her results-driven career led her from early days as a ferrous alloys trader through roles of increasing responsibility at CME Group to her current position as managing director and global head of metals products. Chang also serves on CME Group's Diversity and Inclusion Council, which is responsible for driving the company's D&I strategy.
What made you join the metals/mining industry? Why do you stay?
I moved from Korea to the United States at age 16, and I think that had a large influence on developing my passion for international business. As a teenager, my dad took me along on a business trip to Shanghai where we visited the Pudong District. At the time, the Pudong area was nothing like it is today. It was all under construction. My dad took me to the port and said ‘look at this, ten years from now it's going to be a very different place.' Ever since then, I had a vision of getting involved in international business, and I truly believe in connecting people and resources around the globe.
I joined the metals industry right out of college through on-campus recruiting, but I quickly realized how dynamic the metals and mining industry was and how it's all tied to global market dynamics. I'm sure you can appreciate that, even with products such as the Midwest Premium contract, our work with the US aluminum industry, or a steel scrapyard in upstate New York, [they are] directly tied to the Chinese economy and industrial demand.
If someone asked me today what keeps me excited and passionate about my job, I would say it's the people I've met along the way and the relationships and friendships I've built over the years. Every day is different, and I'm constantly being challenged.
As a woman in a historically male-dominated industry, who or what has inspired you?
I've had many great mentors and bosses who have shaped me into who I am today. I tend to look for and admire people who can convert challenges and adversity into opportunities. In any career it's important to surround yourself with people who inspire you and make you want to do better, and I think that includes formal and informal mentors and allies who can help you succeed and challenge you to grow.
I've been very fortunate to have very strong female leaders at the top of my organization, who I respect and admire. They've all taught me different things I can relate to. I can ask about being a mom, and a wife, or having female executive presence which is a bit different than a male executive presence. For example, how do you balance work and home and still be successful at your job? Their success has shown me that if they were able to do it, then so can I. So that really inspires me to want to do more.
But equally important, I can't emphasize enough that you need to also cultivate a broad network – not just female but also male – who support you from within the organization and throughout the industry as well. My current boss Derek Sammann, our global head of commodities and options products, has helped me not only to grow my career, but has taken an active interest in shaping my leadership style as well. He is one of many male allies I've met along the way who have positively influenced my career.
Why is diversity important for the industry?
Just like everyone, I have my own strengths and weaknesses. And if you only have people who think like you, have the same perspectives, backgrounds, strengths, weaknesses, you are essentially building an organization with the same blind spots.
As someone who manages a global business, that's leaving a huge vulnerability. My goal is to always make sure that we are building the most well-rounded team with the least amount of blind spots, which I think is directly tied to a better business result.
So the industry as a whole, do you think it still has a lot of those blind spots, or do you see any increased diversity in the years that you've been in the industry?
I'm in a unique spot because I'm in the financial services industry as well as the metals industry. The world in general is becoming more complex, and we're living through it as we speak. And what I see is that our clients are becoming more global, and the workforce is changing rapidly as millennials are set to make up the largest percentage of the workforce globally in the next few years.
While there is progress to be made, we are taking the right steps. I think it boils down to hiring and recruiting the best talent in the diverse pool. And, how you nurture the talent up to the mid and senior levels of a company. This doesn't happen overnight – it's a multi-year project, in my opinion, and I hope that we as an industry will see more efforts being made and more results in the next five to ten years.
What is CME Group doing to cultivate talented women and help them advance?
While I can't speak for everyone, I believe I'm an example of how CME Group cultivates talented women and helps them advance their careers. I joined the firm in 2011 as a director of research and product development for metals, and held roles of increasing responsibility over the years. Today I'm a managing director and global head of metals products.
I believe my growth and success throughout my career is in part because I'm extremely results-driven. But, along the way CME provided me with the necessary resources to succeed. Over the years at CME Group, we've focused a lot on internal mobility and career development while creating a more inclusive work environment. Along those lines, I'm very proud to say we have ten very active employee network groups. In fact, I was the one of the original members who launched our Women's Initiative Network, called WIN, back in 2012. Today there are over 430 members. I believe these employee network groups play an important role in increasing awareness, cultivating diverse talent and shaping the culture of our organization.
What advice would you give to a woman just starting out today, if she were trying to break in and have a similar career path?
The most important thing is that results matter, and are key to success regardless of gender. There is no better way to achieve great results consistently than hard work. It's important to say ‘yes' to opportunities and don't overanalyze it or doubt whether you are ready. Always remember the opportunity came to you because you have what it takes to succeed.
Do you see the coronavirus pandemic and current events affecting your customers' appetite for risk management either positively or negatively?
During times of stress and increased volatility, liquidity becomes even more of an important factor. Clients' need to manage risk is even greater in times of uncertainty.