Financial markets are said to be merciless, overwhelmingly male-dominated places. When I was young, they didn’t figure anywhere in my career plans. Instead, I was drawn to my first love: English and American literature.

Yet, I don’t for a minute regret choosing to study European and international law. For me, law was the discipline that first opened the doors to the stock market, and then gave me the keys. And I have really enjoyed working in financial markets, an exciting and stimulating work environment. Law and regulatory systems have always helped me find solutions that can reconcile diverse—even opposing-interests, and thus meet the challenges of modern business.

A young woman starting a career in finance needs lots of patience, a great deal of energy, plus a little selflessness and flexibility. Combining motherhood with an executive position in a financial company has always been a constant challenge, as anyone who’s faced the following dilemma will understand: it’s 8:00 a.m., your child is coming down with chicken pox, and you’ve got a make-or-break meeting at the Ministry of Finance. But all women are born with a talent for finding solutions to exceptionally complex problems!

For me, that meant finding solutions when I helped the business teams coordinate the move from floor trading to electronic trading at Matif, France’s former international futures market. The transition was inevitable but it triggered a wave of disputes and tense negotiations.

And I found solutions when I helped build the stock exchange of the 21st century, following the merger of Euronext (the Amsterdam, Brussels, Lisbon, and Paris stock exchanges; and the Liffe futures exchange in London), with the New York stock exchange in 2007 to create NYSE Euronext—by developing a regulatory framework and governance principles. NYSE Euronext was the first transatlantic exchange, and posed a unique set of challenges as we merged a U.S. regulated exchange with several European-regulated exchanges.

Today I work on European regulatory issues, and it’s also an honor for me to head our group’s Global Diversity Initiative. This nourishes the unique social fabric of a stock exchange that is both local, through the traditions of our member exchanges in their home countries, and completely global, as today’s financial world is so interconnected. NYSE Euronext has always valued diversity, viewing our multicultural employees as an invaluable resource and encouraging individual initiatives— including those of women—as part of our overall strategy. That philosophy has contributed enormously to my success.