Women in Treasury

Women in Treasury: Christine Stokes, State Street Global Advisors

Published: Dec 2020
Christine Stokes, State Street Global Advisors

This much I know

Christine Stokes, Chief Operating Officer for State Street Global Advisors’ Global Cash Business, believes that working hard, building relationships and asking lots of questions are the keys to success.

Christine Stokes

Chief Operating Officer – Global Cash Business

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Christine Stokes is a Managing Director at State Street Global Advisors and Chief Operating Officer for its Global Cash Business. In this role, she works closely with the Global Head of Cash in developing and executing the overall strategic plan for the business.

Prior to joining State Street Global Advisors, Christine worked at State Street Global Services for almost 20 years. In her previous role, she was responsible for servicing over US$200b in assets, including accounting for US$70b in money market fund assets. Prior to that, Christine was primarily responsible for the oversight of several significant institutional money market fund custody relationships.

She graduated with a BS in Business Administration from Providence College. She also holds Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Series 7 and 63 licenses.

Tell us about your current position.

In my current role, I am responsible for the oversight of the infrastructure supporting our global cash distribution efforts, including the management of our client service teams, partnerships with our service providers and driving enhancements for our internal and external technology platforms. I also work closely with the Global Head of our business to develop and execute our strategic plan.

Prior to this, I worked my way up to the Unit Manager role within State Street’s mutual funds operations division and was responsible for custody and accounting for one of the world’s largest asset managers.

What advice you would give to women in finance in terms of establishing and developing a career?

Whatever job you’re in now, commit yourself to it and work hard. If your current role isn’t where your true passion lies, remember that you are building the foundation of your future career.

Don’t underestimate the importance of building relationships. You can help others by being dependable and trustworthy – these traits will help you further on in your career. Once you have more experience, people will remember how you helped them and may recommend you or hire you for the next great thing.

Ask a lot of questions. Just by continuing to learn, I was able to ensure that I understood my responsibilities fully and could contribute in a meaningful way. It can also make your job more interesting if you learn more about an issue and can fix it.

We hear a lot about the importance of speaking up in meetings. In today’s virtual terms, that means making sure that you are visible in the video. Even if you don’t have a major speaking role, show that you are present and engaged.

Do you think it is important to have a defined career plan?

I actually didn’t have a plan when I started out on my career. When I came out of college, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, which left me open to new experiences and opportunities that I may not have considered otherwise.

While it can be a good idea to have a plan, especially if you have very specific goals or a clear idea of where you want to be, being flexible and open to new things is essential. Things rarely progress in a straight line – it’s the lateral moves in your career that really build out your experience.

How can junior professionals be empowered to challenge bias and promote diversity?

From a leader’s point of view, the most important thing is the kind of culture that you set. If you are open and transparent with your team, they will be far more comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns and ideas.

As a junior professional, it can be helpful to join employee resource groups that have specific missions. We have a variety of them at State Street Global Advisors, and I know that, as an organization, we are not alone.

New ways of working

As for so many others, the COVID-19 pandemic had a sudden and significant impact on Christine and her team at the beginning of the year. By April, the whole team was working remotely. “I think most people have found this time incredibly challenging,” she says. “Fortunately, we were able to work from home almost right away. I know not everybody had that luxury.”

In fact, Christine was pleasantly surprised with the speed at which her team was able to adapt to new ways of working. “It’s one thing to be working remotely one day a week, but to be operating in in an environment that is 100% remote and engaging with clients in new ways, while at the same time staying motivated, is truly impressive.”

That said, there were some technical difficulties to overcome. With clients working remotely, one of the biggest challenges was dealing with procedures that were office- or paper-based and needed to be adapted to accommodate the new remote environment. But by cooperating closely with their transfer agents, her team was able to adapt to interacting with clients in different ways. “I have been incredibly proud of the way my team has risen to the challenge,” says Christine.

The momentum for change

In recent years, State Street Global Advisors has been a key player in furthering female representation on the boards of the world’s top companies – not least due to the power of its proxy vote, which it uses to drive change.

Since 2017, in partnership with Treasury Today, the firm has also hosted numerous events around the world to further the diversity dialogue within the industry. During this time, the conversation has continued to evolve. “At the beginning of our journey together, we were focused on gender diversity,” Christine explains, “and the Women in Treasury Global Study in partnership with Treasury Today was such a great backdrop for the conversation.”

Many of the events took the form of small intimate gatherings in which the topics of inclusion and diversity could be discussed in a relaxed and natural way. “It was great to have small get-togethers which allowed people the means to speak up in a way that they might not feel comfortable doing in a larger forum,” Christine notes.

In a continually evolving business and social landscape, Christine believes that promoting the inclusion of women is the beginning of a wider discussion around diversity. “We need to continue the conversation promoting diversity and inclusion for everyone,” she concludes. “There is a tremendous momentum for change right now across the globe; it would be a shame to waste this opportunity.”

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