Interview with Maura Durkin, President of Women In Listed Derivatives (WILD)

I had the pleasure to interview Maura Durkin, Compliance Manager at BP and the newly appointed President of Women In Listed Derivatives (WILD). We delve into her journey within the financial services industry. Throughout our conversation, Maura reveals her drive, passion, and resiliency, alongside her ambitious plans for her tenure.

The Interview

Congratulations on your new role as President of WILD. How long have you been a WILD member and what motivated you to join WILD?

I joined the WILD right out of college. My employer at the time, NFA (National Futures Association), had a corporate membership for WILD and they did a really good job broadcasting especially to younger women to get involved and meet people. WILD helped me find myself, my voice, and my community.


What inspired you to pursue a career in financial services and your path to your current role?

I’m in this industry because I idolize my father, Bryan Durkin, the former president of CME. As a kid my memories were running around the Chicago Board of Trade’s open outcry pits. I vividly remember this one day when I was about 5 or 6. I was standing by the soybean pit and an immense rush came over me. Seeing the trade prices being flashed across the board and watching people talking their own language using their hands is when I fell in love. That day I told my dad I was going to be a trader.


Tell me about your path to your current role.

It was a no brainier that I was going to be a business and finance major, and always thought my path was to be a trader on the floor. It was very confident of me to think that back then. I’ll never forget the heart-to-heart phone call I had with my dad. It was 2015 my senior year of college, trading floors started shutting down and I didn’t know what I was going to do. My dad asked what do you like? I said, “Well I like rules. I like rules a lot.” My dad said, “Have you ever thought about regulatory and compliance?” I googled regulatory and derivatives and NFA came up. The NFA married my favorite things in life, the derivatives industry, balance, and fairness. The NFA was the best foundation to my career. It taught me the business. Instead of being out on the trading floor, I was knocking on the traders’ doors. Integrity made me feel good about myself and that’s the reason I come to work every single day. When I was at the NFA I wanted to keep everyone else’s money safe. Now at BP I want to be sure we are conducting ourselves in a fair manner in the derivatives markets.


How important do you think mentorship and networking are in helping individuals find their voice in a technical, competitive industry? Can you share a personal experience where your network has benefited you professionally and/or personally?

I think networking is absolutely crucial. I learned this was a skill you needed to have relatively young. I have to give credit to the women I serve on the WILD board with. I was lucky to join the board in 2021. Simta Gupta took me under her wing when I first joined, and we bonded not only over professional experiences but also personal ones. She helped me through an extremely tough part of my life that I never saw coming. I was humbled and honored to take on the role of Events Chair, but I needed to consider my mental capacity at the time. I reached out to Simta, and she took on the responsibility of organizing events and checking in on me. This made me realize how important it is to have a mentor in your corner professionally but someone that you can trust and lean on personally. It gave me the gift of empathy. I’ve been extremely appreciated for the WILD community because it gave me a new lease on life and a newfound sense of confidence.


What are your goals as you take on this new position as president of the WILD board?

I have been thinking about this since I’ve joined the WILD but there are a few top items I want to focus on for this year. First, I want to integrate a new perspective on the board by integrating our three new board members, make them feel comfortable, and allow them to showcase their ideas so we can be more innovative. Another area I want to focus on is to have more partnerships with our members across the world. We are starting to revive our London chapter and I’ve been coordinating with our Latin America chapter. I want to build a community where members feel comfortable talking about vulnerable topics. We do a good job with the professional aspect, but I want to start balancing the human aspect going into this year by letting members know you have support. Lastly, an item I am passionate about is mentorship. We are looking into starting a mentorship program again. This is where the blending of professionalism, being human, and vulnerable can naturally come together. I wouldn’t be where I am today, professionally, or personally, without my mentors.


Have there been any challenges you have you have had to overcome as you have climbed the ladder within the financial field and how have you benefited from these challenges?

I think one of the major challenges is every job I’ve been in I’ve been one of the only women or the only woman on the team or in the department. I grew up with all sisters and it was a change in dynamic for me. I love a challenge and what it taught me is that people communicate in different ways and to be a listener. Another challenge I faced was the first time I experienced sexism at work. It was the first time I realized they talked to me differently and view me differently because I am a female. I sat back and I thought am I actually valued here for who I am? Do I deserve to be treated this way? Both of those answers were no. It was very hard for me because I like to stick things out and I like a challenge, but I knew for me this job was taking a mental toll on me. It was one of the best pivots of my life leaving that company.  Now, I’m here at BP so happy, valued for who I am, and love the people I work with. I love the work that I do.


While we are on the topic of policy and initiatives, can you discuss any policies or initiatives you have seen or would like to see implemented to mitigate gender bias in career development and promotions?

I can speak just to BP. We’ve done great establishing internal business resource groups. I have a leadership seat for a BP organization called WIN (Women In Network). Something I really appreciate about BP, and I believe the BP WIN group has done a really good job with is incorporating this term Speak Up Culture. It is so ingrained in our culture here and knowing that we can be honest and direct with our line managers. It starts with those candid conversations. Male or female, if something is important to you explain it to your boss who are usually agreeable and understanding.

Generally, in the market, I would like to see more transparency on pay grades. I’ve run into this issue myself. It has gotten better but it needs to be spoken about. I would like to see companies have conversations of how to become allies to females. The event the WILD sponsored last year about being allies for women sparked some conversations internally at BP about allyship and how do we become more advocates. Progress is being made and I can only image where it’s going to be in the future.


I have a fun question for you, what is your dream job?

I’m getting my pilots license so my dream job would be a pilot and fly around the world. It’s really given me a new perspective on life and energizes me.


My last question, as someone who has been in the industry for 10 years, what advice would you give your younger self?

I would tell my younger self to not sweat the small details so much. There is only so much you can control in life and sometimes you have to become comfortable with the unknown. I would tell myself to enjoy life a little more and to not put so much pressure on myself. There are going to be ups and downs in life. Enjoy the ups and embrace the downs, as those times demonstrate the strongest lessons. When obstacles hit my path, I need to see these as opportunities to grow instead of getting discouraged. We learn from the uncomfortable moments. Most importantly, I would tell myself that I am not perfect and that is the most beautiful aspect of life. I put a lot of pressure on myself at a young age to achieve certain metrics and wasted so much energy on details that did not matter. If I just trusted in myself and in the process, I would still be where I am today with less stress and less wrinkles.


Durkin shares her journey reflecting on the pivotal role mentorship and networking has played, not only in her career but also her personal life. Her path, marked by challenges, learning, and the pursuit of integrity in the derivatives industry, highlights resilience and adaptability. As President, Maura will focus on fostering innovation, community, and mentorship within WILD, aiming to create a supportive and inclusive environment for women in finance.