Marie-Astrid Dubois, Assistant Treasurer EMEA and Asia, Honeywell, shares her professional path, career-defining moments and passion for treasury.
Assistant Treasurer EMEA and Asia
Marie-Astrid Dubois joined Honeywell in 2002 as Director Europe Treasury. She was appointed Assistant Treasurer EMEA and Asia in 2006. In this role, she leads all operational and strategic treasury activities, spanning from cash and liquidity management, trade finance, euro commercial paper (ECP) and risk management to strategic projects for these two regions, in which Honeywell is present in about 60 countries. Dubois has been involved with numerous merger and acquisition (M&A) and divestment projects, as well as their funding structure and smooth integration in Honeywell’s treasury operations. During her tenure, her team won the Alexander Hamilton Gold Award for Cash Management two years in a row, one for Asia and the other for EMEA, as well as a number of other treasury awards both in Asia and Europe. Prior to joining Honeywell, Dubois worked for ACNielsen, the Dexter Corporation and Arthur Andersen. She has more than 20 years of experience in treasury and risk management.
What is your career-defining moment?
Despite always wanting to stay in Europe, my career-defining moment was when I accepted a job at the Dexter Corporation in Connecticut, US. I discovered a company culture that is better suited to my personality and since then I have only worked for US multinationals.
Which woman in business most inspires you and why?
Christine Lagarde because she has an impressive career, as the first female Chairman of the international law firm Baker & McKenzie, then as Minister of Finance for France and finally as Managing Director of the IMF. She successfully manages the demands of a family and such a successful career.
What is the biggest challenge you are facing just now?
It is important to be a catalyst for change. I strive to add value by finding the most efficient way to support the businesses lines and encourage my team to connect with the business lines in their locations. I also need to manage constrained resources in the most appropriate way.
What couldn’t you manage without?
I couldn’t manage without my Executive Assistant, who knows how to manage me. In addition, I would be lost without my passion to constantly challenge the status quo. I need to know that each team member is evolving – if I wasn’t seeing positive change, I would find it quite difficult.
What is your next major objective?
Honeywell is working towards a SWIFT implementation and we are looking at setting up a payment-on-behalf-of factory. My objective is to successfully drive that forward by working with people in different functions and business units.
What advice would you give to other women in treasury?
The importance of networking should be part of any advice. It is also important to publicise your achievements, both internally and externally through treasury awards, for example. Women are less vocal about their achievements than men – an area we need to improve upon.
If there is one thing you could have done differently in your career path so far, what would that be?
I can’t think of anything that I would have done differently. I love treasury, even though I came to it by chance. I don’t really believe in planning a career because you should be on the lookout for new opportunities when they appear.
“I would be lost without my passion to constantly challenge the status quo.”
Like many others in the treasury field, Marie-Astrid Dubois says that she fell into the profession “by chance”. She started her career at Arthur Andersen in France and worked on a special mandate for US clients which involved the Dexter Corporation. After completing the assignment successfully, Dexter offered her a job in the US as part of a management development programme. Through the programme, the company identified and hired bright people to serve as a reserve army for special projects. Dubois was the first non-Anglophone to be hired as part of the programme.
“When you are the only employee that is non-Anglophone – and also a woman – then you can feel a bit isolated, but at the same time that is what makes you special,” she says. In what she describes as a career-defining moment, the move internationalised her career and she found a US multinational that best fit her personality. “My boss believed in talented people and wanted to give them every opportunity to shine,” she says. “That sponsorship helped to build up my self-confidence.” It also provided her with different opportunities, which in turn allowed Dubois to have the type of career she wanted.
Although she was offered a number of domestic jobs, Dubois was keen to move back to Europe. When Dexter’s CFO decided to start up its international treasury operations by opening a treasury centre in Brussels, Belgium, this was her opportunity to return and also move into treasury. Although not a planned career move, she thoroughly enjoys treasury and has made it her career. In 1997, she moved to ACNielsen and was responsible for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) treasury. She joined Honeywell in 2002 as Director Europe Treasury and was promoted to Assistant Treasurer EMEA and Asia in 2006.
“Part of the challenge, in an environment where resources are very constrained, is how to allocate the right level of resources and determine which area has priority.”
Dubois’ day-to-day job is to stay abreast of everything that is happening in the market. At the same time, she is focused on moving her team up the ladder. “My team are my ears and eyes around the world,” she says. Honeywell’s international treasury covers more than 60 countries. In Europe the team is located in four different countries: Germany, UK, France and Belgium, where Honeywell’s in-house bank is located. In Asia the team is based in Singapore and Shanghai.
“An important aspect of my job is to stay connected with the business leaders to ensure that we are supporting their needs and develop solutions for them. Part of the challenge, in an environment where resources are very constrained, is how to allocate the right level of resources and determine which area has priority. In addition, I need to ensure that my team is where I want them, to be able to add value to the business,” she says. Networking – with banks, vendors, consultants and other treasury professionals – is another important part of her job.
With regard to education and development, Dubois places more emphasis on hands on experience rather than a formal certification programme. After receiving an MBA from IESE, University of Navarra, Spain, her career has mainly been driven by her insatiable curiosity and she looks for that characteristic in other people. “I don’t require my team to have a treasury certificate per se, but I do push them to understand the technicalities of the job,” she says. She emphasises building up expertise and sharing best practice within the team. For example, recently she brought two members of the team in Asia to Europe for two weeks of intense training.
Dubois values the level of support that her boss and the CFO give her at Honeywell, as well as other mentors along the way. Honeywell has a mentoring programme that targets top talent in the finance department and she is committed to mentoring across the organisation, as well as her own team through actively managing them. “It has become more difficult to attract good individuals, so we need to ensure that we develop, coach, train and mentor them,” she says.