There are some people who just get it.
Gail Osten was one of those people who just got it. Got what? You name it, work, personal issues, a joke – life. As a professional, her career spanned more than four decades starting in marketing at the MidAmerica Commodity Exchange and ending as director of corporate communications at the Chicago Board Options Exchange. She was also a mother of two boys, Dan and Jon, and wife to Joe Osten, all of whom she spoke about regularly.
Osten, who died Thursday morning at the age of 65 after a second bout of cancer (she defeated an earlier case a couple of years ago), was known fondly by many in the industry for being truly good at what she did, a “consummate professional,” as CBOE Chairman Bill Brodsky put it.
“And one of the things I liked most about Gail was she was always upbeat,” he said.
Her career was a fluid mix of marketing, education, public relations and journalism. She worked for four different exchanges over her career, starting in public relations in 1973 at the Chicago Board of Trade and its Mid-Am subsidiary. Osten spent the bulk of her career – nearly 17 years – at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, in marketing and advertising, and then later at CME Group as director of market education. She also consulted for the single stock futures exchange NQLX. Osten crossed over into the options space with the CBOE in 2008.
Patricia Campbell, who worked with Osten in several roles, said she owed her career in the futures industry to Osten, who hired her as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s first public relations manager in 1981. She said Osten was a “mentor and sister” to her, and recalls working on writing and editing skills with her on press releases for the CME by reading the final drafts out loud.
Barbara Richards, who worked with her during most of her CME career, said Osten was a “great boss” and mentor for others, one who helped open doors for other women in the industry.
“She was no-nonsense but yet very encouraging,” Richards said.
Osten also served as the executive editor of Stock, Futures & Options magazine from 2002 to 2006. SFO, which was owned by Peregrine Financial Group, was not considered a legitimate publication in the derivatives space until Osten brought a new level of professionalism and relevant news content to the monthly magazine.
She was also an early contributing editor to John Lothian & Co.’s MarketsWiki site. That project was started in 2007 and launched in 2008 by a small team of contributors, including Osten, who helped develop the writing style and format it maintains today.
John Lothian, president and CEO of John Lothian & Co., said her work in the early days of MarketsWiki was “crucial to getting the site off the ground.”
“But Gail was more than just a great professional, she was a great person and that’s what I’ll remember most about her,” Lothian said.
Indeed, Osten is best known for her personality: strong willed, yet balanced, with a warm and kind touch. Her straightforward approach and honesty garnered great respect from journalists in the space and admiration from those who worked with her or knew her well. She was quick with a joke and a laugh.
Karen Gleason of Karen Gleason & Associates, a longtime friend, said “Gail was just so knowledgeable about the industry and its changes, inside and out.”
Carol Kennedy, chief communications officer at CBOE, said Gail was more than just a colleague, but also a friend who was solidly grounded, even during her illness.
“Gail just loved life, and embraced all of it,” Kennedy said. “She never lost her compass, or what was really important.”
Ginger Szala, longtime journalist in the futures space and friend, echoed those sentiments. She recalled Osten’s love of cooking, gardening, dinners out with friends and some great St. Patrick’s Day celebrations at the Osten home.
“She was always someone who had a good word to say,” Szala said. “And she was always someone who was frank, and open and diplomatic.”
Per her request, no funeral, wake or memorial will be held. Instead, she requested, and will receive a party. A celebration of Gail Osten’s life will be held on March 29th, from noon to 5 p.m. at The Snuggery, 122 S. York Road, in Elmhurst, IL. Friends and colleagues are welcome.
Her charity of choice is the Chicagoland Susan G. Komen Foundation.