In a relatively short time, Kate Moorcroft, Group Treasurer at Barratt Developments has risen to the top of the treasury profession. In this candid interview, she talks about her career path and how learning to have confidence in her own abilities has enabled her to push forward her career.
Kate Moorcroft started her treasury career at Coventry Building Society in 2002 as a treasury trainee and worked up through the ranks before being promoted to Senior Dealer in 2008. In 2010 she was offered the opportunity to move from a financial organisation to a corporate and joined National Express as a Treasury Manager. During the six years Kate spent at National Express, she was promoted to the role of Assistant Treasurer and then finally Deputy Group Treasurer where she managed a small team and lead various international projects. Kate now holds the position of Group Treasurer at Barratt Developments.
What is the best piece of advice that you have been given in your career so far?
Believe in yourself, trust in your abilities and have confidence that you can do a good job. This wasn’t advice in its traditional sense, but more something that my boss at National Express instilled in me during my time working there.
When I first joined the company, I wasn’t the most self-confident person and would often be unwilling to push myself out of my comfort zone. But thankfully my boss invested in my development and handed me projects that pushed me. This enabled me to prove to myself that I could achieve more than I thought.
One of my biggest learnings has been that it is OK to ask questions and having the confidence to do so. Not knowing everything is OK, it is not a sign of weakness, and asking questions is actually a great way to learn from people and build up your own personal knowledge base.
What advice would you give to women in finance in terms of establishing and developing a career?
Don’t differentiate yourself from men. I believe that in financial roles, women can do just as good a job as men – it is just about believing in yourself.
Linked to this, I also think it is important that women put themselves forward for roles and become more visible in the industry. I understand that this is not always a simple thing to do and quite often women can have a tendency to focus too much on the things they cannot do rather than the great things they can do. But there are lots of women in treasury doing fantastic jobs and I think that should be celebrated rather than hidden away.
Thankfully, I have seen this happening more and more over the last ten years. For instance, when I first started going to treasury events there were very few women and it could be quite intimidating. Today there are a lot more women at conferences, speaking and making their voices heard.
What is your motto in life?
I don’t have a particular motto, but I do believe in living life to its fullest. To do this you need to have a job that you love – and I am lucky to have this. It also requires a well-defined work/life balance to spend time doing what you enjoy outside of work.
What is your next major objective?
Having just assumed the role of Group Treasurer at a FTSE 100 company, I sometimes have to pinch myself that I have come so far in my career. I am therefore just taking each day as it comes, immersing myself in the business, continuing to learn in order to become a better treasurer and leader and proving to myself that I can do a good job as a Group Treasurer.
“Believe in yourself, trust in your abilities and have confidence that you can do a good job.”
“I didn’t get into treasury the conventional way,” admits Kate Moorcroft, Group Treasurer at Barratt Developments when asked about her career path. Indeed, Kate is quite unusual in that she has climbed to the very top of the corporate treasury career ladder without a degree. “After finishing college, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do,” she says. “I therefore worked part-time as a bank cashier with Coventry Building Society and then went full time once I turned 18.”
Kate quickly rose through the ranks at the Coventry Building Society, with the next step in her career becoming a branch manager at 21. “I realised though that this wasn’t something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” says Kate. “Around the same time a treasury trainee job came up internally and it caught my interest despite not having any clue about what the treasury department did.”
After spending half a day in the department, Kate was intrigued and realised that it was a role that could enable her to build the career that she was looking for. “I decided to go for it and managed to get the role,” she explains. “I spent a year or so learning the ropes of the front, middle and back office.” The rest, as they say, is history.
After nine years working in treasury at Coventry Building Society, Kate decided that she wanted to broaden her experience and left to join National Express as a Treasury Manager. She admits that this wasn’t an easy decision to make given that she was very happy and comfortable in her role.
“In hindsight, throwing myself out of my comfort zone at Coventry Building Society was important,” explains Kate. “At that point in my career, I lacked self-confidence and was reluctant to push myself further.” Kate says that she couldn’t have moved to a better company than National Express, finding a boss who saw the potential in her and was willing to act as a mentor to bring this out.
“I try to instil confidence in my team and get them to push themselves, just as others have done to me previously.”
“Very quickly at National Express I was being given projects that put me out of my comfort zone,” explains Kate. “At that time, I still approached these tasks with limited confidence but I still ended up doing a good job. Slowly I convinced myself that I could do more than I thought I could.” Kate was rewarded for this work with two promotions in six years, rising to the role of Deputy Treasurer at National Express before moving to her current role as Group Treasurer of Barratt Developments. “When I first started in treasury I never thought I would get to a deputy level, let alone group level, if I am honest.”
Drive and ambition
When asked if not having a degree ever impacted her career, Kate answers that it has never really been an issue. “I passed the ACT exams just after moving to National Express and I think this, tied with my experience, outweighed having a degree and proved I was serious about treasury,” she says. Kate also notes that not having a degree has spurred her on to achieve more than she might have otherwise. “I would try to shadow my bosses and sit in on meetings, even when I didn’t fully understand the content, to build up my treasury skill set and see how people at a higher level operated.”
Now, as the leader of a treasury department, Kate feels it is incumbent on her to bring through the next generation of treasury professionals. “I try to instil confidence in my team and get them to push themselves, just as others have done to me previously,” she explains. “But as a leader, I also want to show that it is OK not to know everything. My team at Barratt have been with the company longer than I have and understand the business very well. I am therefore not afraid to say that I don’t understand something and ask them. Just because you are the boss, it doesn’t mean you know everything.”