As an educator in Cboe’s Options Institute, Roma is passionate about helping young professionals find their place in the finance industry
Roma Colwell-Steinke spent the earlier part of her career as a market maker for Group One on the Pacific Stock Exchange in San Francisco before an earthquake rendered it temporarily unusable in 1989. She and other PSE market makers then came to Chicago to trade on the Cboe floor until the PSE floor reopened.
“I looked down at the floor and there were 4,500 people,” she says. “And I remember thinking, ‘They want me to do what?! Go where?!’”
A year later, Group One opened its Chicago operation, bringing Roma back to the Cboe trading pits, which, at the time, could be somewhat unreceptive to new traders. “It was a cultural thing,” Roma says. “I really had to prove that I knew what I was doing. Fortunately, I had already traded for a year so I established myself pretty quickly.”
“When I started my career, there was no college recruiting, so you had to meet somebody and convince them to teach you,” she says. “I think it’s important, no matter what you do, to make opportunities for yourself. I found a large part of my success came from meeting really wonderful, grounded people that believed in me.”
Following her own advice, Roma continued to find new opportunities, eventually joining Cboe’s Options Institute as an instructor – a job she loves almost as much as trading. Roma credits Deb Peters, former head of Cboe’s educational arm, with helping her get settled at the Options Institute, saying she was a terrific boss and role model.
“She was really good at highlighting what women do well in the workplace,” she recalls. And according to Roma, that recognition is building. “Businesses are starting to see the ways women can enhance an organization and it’s so exciting to see so many women in leadership roles at Cboe today.”
“There are a lot of women at Cboe who are just dynamos. I mean, they really are pretty incredible,” she continues. “We have a lot of really good role models and I think they’re only going to grow in numbers.”
Roma is eager to help fuel that growth, making it her mission to support women however she can. Part of her role at the Options Institute is working with Cboe’s summer interns, an opportunity she views as a way to guide young people at the start of their careers. Roma says that as a woman, she urges young women to simply give the industry a try.
“My big advice, for anyone, not just women, is to raise your hand. You can raise your hand to volunteer, you can raise it to ask a question, you can raise it in agreement – no matter what the reason, you’re going to learn something,” she says.
Roma encourages anyone just starting their career to get to know their coworkers too. And not just in the office, she says. “Take them out to lunch or coffee. Go get a drink after work,” she suggests. “That’s where those relationships are bonded.”
Roma’s advice harkens back to her days on the floor, where even her toughest competitors were her friends at the end of the day. “Even though you compete with each other and you fight all day long, the bell would ring and we’d say, ‘hey where do you want to go out to dinner together?’ It was a really exciting, wonderful place to be.”
Cboe is celebrating the women that make us great all month long. Follow along on your favorite social channel with #CboeWomen.