Q1: Tell us about your career path and what particular experience has been most valuable to you along the way
After leaving University my first job was as an engineer for General Motors (GM). Within a short period of time, I realised that the most influential and inspiring people at the Company were working in Finance and Treasury, which inspired me to return to University and study for an MBA. This allowed me to transition over to the Treasury Function at GM and that’s where my career in Finance really took off. Following General Motors, I’ve had roles in corporate finance, investor relations as well as various stints in Treasury teams for a number of different companies. I took the approach that if a Recruiter called with an interesting opportunity which allowed me to learn new things – I would follow! This has meant I’ve done many other things outside of Treasury such as Tax Planning and Procurement. I was head of procurement for an Apparel company which was a subsidiary of Sara Lee while on an expat assignment in London, I was also involved in a leveraged buyout at Fisher Scientific, helped Hyatt Hotels go public, and ended up running the Project Management Office for the spinoff of HanesBrands from Sara Lee. The most valuable part of my career has been the cross functional aspect of getting things done, understanding how the various functions and teams work together, be it legal, accounting or HR. It’s critical that all of these parts are collaborating as the Treasury function simply can’t exist on its own!
Q2: What is the biggest challenge you currently face?
Staying in front. LyondellBasell pride ourselves on being best in class in everything we do, but especially when it comes to credit management and treasury operations. The world is changing rapidly every day, with new technology such as Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, and we must continue to challenge ourselves with innovative ideas and ways of working, what’s considered world class today won’t be considered world class next year. The second is retaining world class talent. Newer generations tend to move a lot quicker than past generations, be it up the organisation or across into different roles. It’s imperative we’re managing the pipeline of future and emerging talent effectively to always ensure we have the best people in each role.
Q3: How is the performance of your treasury group measured?
No specific metric, but we tend to look at ourselves in terms of:
- Value Add: Quantifiable in USD for most part. Are we delivering value to the firm with our interest rate risk management and foreign exchange structures?
- Process & Organisation improvements: What are we doing as a team to improve not only ourselves, but also those around us. I am constantly challenging my team to ensure they are leveraging each other’s skill sets to drive the organisation forward.
Q4: What takes up most of your time?
People. I currently manage around 120 globally, which means a considerable amount of time is spent on ensuring we have the right people in the right roles. It’s important to ensure we are doing the best by the individual, for their career and own aspirations. I’m a big believer in cross business pollination, there is value for an individual spending time in different parts of organisation, so ensuring we have the right bench of people to backfill those roles is crucial.
Q5: How has technology changed treasury?
Not a lot if I’m perfectly honest. Our eyes and ears are open, but we haven’t seen it yet in a big way. I expect there will be much more to come with virtual account structures and digital payments – I’m most interested in seeing how Blockchain can be used for payments and contracts. Although I’ve heard a lot about in recent years, I haven’t seen much in the way of practical application.
Q6: What is your favourite hobby or sports team?
I’m a passionate New York Yankees baseball fan and also serial Marathon runner and triathlete – in fact, this year I will be completing my 13th Ironman triathlon, which is in addition to 21 marathons (including the Boston bombing in 2013) so I’ve covered a lot of miles! It’s important I stay fit and healthy to remain at the top of my game.
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