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“That’s all thanks to my grandma“

29 Nov 2018

“That’s all thanks to my grandma“How Katrin Otto, member of the Executive Board of CEINEX, became involved in China, strategy and, ultimately CEINEX

Katrin Otto was appointed to the board of CEINEX AG in September 2018. The China Europe International Exchange (CEINEX) is a Joint-Venture (JV) by the Shanghai Stock Exchange, the China Financial Futures Exchange and Deutsche Börse Group. As a bridge between markets, CEINEX offers international investors financial products on its platform in Chinese Renminbi as well as products based on Chinese assets in euro and US dollar.

Katrin, glad you found time for us. What are your new responsibilities at CEINEX?

Katrin Otto, member of the Executive Board of CEINEX

Thanks for the invitation. Iꞌm honored. To answer your question, I will have to look back a bit: before I started at CEINEX, I coordinated China-related activities at Deutsche Börse for over two years in the role of a central project manager. Among others, these included CEINEX and the development of new products such as D shares and derivatives. In addition, I looked at the bigger picture, in other words the initiation and development of strategic questions for the Deutsche Börse as a shareholder in the JV. After these two yearꞌs of intensive coordination work with CEINEX, I am now able to shape the future of the JV actively as a board member.

In this role, I continue to coordinate with Deutsche Börse and our supervisory board. In addition, I am responsible for human resources and finance along with coordinating regulatory matters.

How does the liaison with the other JV partners function?

The supervisory and executive boards are made up of members from the three JV partners. Over and above this, each organization provides staff members and know how. So we have a lot of interaction, including back to our shareholders, whose support we also require. With the first D share IPO on 24 October here in Frankfurt by the Chinese company Haier we proved that together we can build a bridge between the Chinese and the European capital markets. Our common goal is to continue to develop this market.

How did your previous work at Deutsche Börse prepare you for your new position?

Katrin Otto, member of the Executive Board of CEINEX

My previous position had a very strong link to the relevant CEINEX topics. In addition, I had fantastic managers, who gave me a lot of their time and were a great example through their work attitude and their pragmatic approach. I was given the chance to develop and was given responsibility at an early stage. This allowed me to make my own experiences, which is very helpful in my new position of responsibility. What is also very nice is the fact that I am still in contact with my previous colleagues at Deutsche Börse and we still work closely together.

However, it is not possible to be prepared for all eventualities; at CEINEX I am still learning new things “on the job” every day.

When did you start working for Deutsche Börse Group and how long have you been involved in the subject matter China?

I started at the Group in 2016. In my previous job as a consultant I was also on the “China ticket”, so in fact, I have almost ten years professional experience with China matters and know how.

What are CEINEXꞌs greatest successes?

The setting up of the JV CEINEX is a great success in itself. No other exchange in the world has managed to found a similar JV with Chinese partners. This close relationship is the foundation for good collaboration across diverse topics and the product areas covered by Deutsche Börse Group and which, for example, are being successfully consolidated within CEINEX.

An absolute highlight for CEINEX is the IPO I mentioned earlier. This launched the CEINEX D share market and wrote financial market history. D shares refer to shares from companies based in China, which are listed in Germany on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in the CEINEX D share market. The D stands for Deutschland or Déguó – the Chinese word for Germany.

And what are the greatest challenges?

The China strategy is a challenge in itself: very different organizations and entities with varying interests have to be brought together and managed. Shanghai Stock Exchange and China Financial Futures Exchange are state‐run companies with a very long‐term horizon or goals where as a listed company like Deutsche Börse also has short and medium‐term goals. Bringing these different horizons, but also the political backgrounds, the different cultures and approaches together can also sometimes be a challenge; Germans and Chinese certainly have different ways of working. But that is the reason I enjoy it. It opens up new horizons and outlooks and I find that very stimulating. It is the reason why I enjoy my job, even if, or maybe just because it is such a challenge.

You have been working in an Asiatic/Chinese environment for a long while. Did you do something in this line at university?

Yes indeed. I studied East Asia Management with China as my main field. I also learnt Mandarin as part of my studies, did part of my studies in Taiwan. I lived with a Chinese family to allow me to do a few internships during my time at university. My focus was always on strategy, finance and China.

China has been a hot topic for quite a while now, but how was your interest awakened at an early age?

That’s all thanks to my grandma. When I was young, she gave me books by the author and Nobel Prize winner Pearl S. Buck to read. The novel “East Wind. West Wind“ has particularly stuck in my mind. The books fascinated me; they showed me that there was another world that I really wanted to get to know. Just studying business was not an option. I wanted to find out about this other culture and the books were the catalyst.

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