Ann Cresce's success story is no surprise to those who witnessed her ability to balance the demands of law school, a young family, and a challenging day job at the Chicago Board of Trade. Ann applied that same versatility and talent to a succession of challenging professional responsibilities as she built a strong portfolio in commodities law and regulation.
Ann Cresce '94 has spent the last three years living and working in Hong Kong helping to launch the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange, an electronic futures exchange capitalizing on rapid growth in commodity trading in China in a new regulatory environment, and developing business relationships with Mainland China entities and shareholders.
As general counsel and head of compliance for the new enterprise, she's a long way from where she started-as a special ed major at the University of Illinois. Soon after starting college, she switched majors, she explains, having discovered that "I did not possess the unique teaching techniques, business was exciting and fast-paced, and the U of I had an outstanding business school."
After graduating with a BS in finance, Ann got a job at the Chicago Board of Trade in Investigations and Audits and worked her way up to director of investigations and market surveillance. "I learned about trading and how markets operate," she recalls, "and about regulatory compliance."
Work drew her toward law - she was writing up investigative reports, prosecuting cases before the disciplinary panel, and working on settlement agreements. After 13 years, she says, "I wanted to expand my knowledge base, and I couldn't advance much further without a law degree."
Heading two departments, supervising 60 employees, and raising two young children, Ann viewed evening school as the ideal option.
"I was told by many people that IIT Chicago-Kent had the best evening program in the city," she says. Having worked with attorneys who were adjunct professors at Chicago-Kent, she also knew they had a lot to offer in corporate and financial services law.
As Ann entered Chicago-Kent, her daughter started kindergarten. Life was busy but rewarding.
"At that stage in my life and career, I appreciated the intellectual challenge of studying law," says Ann. "I learned to approach situations with more intellectual and situational curiosity. I learned to take into account a wider variety of views. I began to consider work matters from a broader perspective, arriving at more effective and considered decisions and results."
Two years into law school, Ann began working at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. After graduation, she became vice president for compliance at Carr Futures, where she did U.S. and international regulatory work.
Later, she was corporate secretary and director of shareholder relations for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and was part of the IPO team when it morphed from a mutual organization into a public company. She then became general counsel of the Chicago Climate Exchange, a start-up that developed a cap-and-trade greenhouse gas emission reduction program and a futures exchange.
Recently, Ann was named to the 2011 DirectWomen Board Institute, a program that positions exceptional senior women attorneys for corporate governance and board work.
Ann enjoys the balancing act between law and business. "I can see both sides of the story and make it work, moving the business forward within the confines of the law." Hong Kong, she says, has been "a life-changing experience. I'm enjoying it immensely, and I wouldn't be here without Chicago-Kent."