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Rana Fayez El-Hajjar, Winner, Treasury Today Woman of the Year 2016

Rana Fayez El-Hajjar, Qatargas and Angela Berry

This year’s Treasury Today Woman of the Year Rana Fayez El-Hajjar is a role model for women in the world of treasury and finance. She was appointed Head of Cash Management in 2007 and she has continued to achieve since her promotion to the position of Treasurer in June 2014. She is a real advocate and practitioner of coaching and mentoring and a most deserving winner this year.

Photo of Rana Fayez El-Hajjar, Qatargas and Angela Berry.

Rana Fayez El Hajjar

Treasurer

Rana Fayez El-Hajjar leads the treasury organisation, managing the Financial Risk, Cash Management, Insurance, Treasury Operations and Compliance functions for all the companies operated by Qatargas. Rana started her career in the accounting profession in 1994 and transitioned into a career in Treasury in 2007 when she was tasked with establishing the Cash Management function at Qatargas.

In 2014, Rana Fayez El-Hajjar was the first female in Qatargas to be appointed to the finance executive management team, where she is a trailblazer in a region and industry which has traditionally been male dominated.

As a leading treasury manager in the Middle East for one of the largest oil and gas companies globally, Rana has had to overcome a number of challenges and stereotypes to reach this position in a region and industry that unfortunately do not see many women in treasury positions, let alone leading one of the major treasury organisations.

Against any backdrop, Rana’s achievements truly stand out, says Sameer Joshi, Director Middle East at ANZ Banking Corporation based in Dubai, who nominated Rana to be Treasury Today’s well-deserved Woman of the Year 2016.

“Throughout her career with Qatargas, Rana has been a role model to her female colleagues and played an active role in mentoring and coaching female employees aspiring to build a successful career in finance. She is passionate about seeing more women joining the finance and treasury teams of large corporates in the region, especially within the oil and gas industry.”

“The Adam Smith Awards are known for being the ultimate industry benchmark for achievement in corporate treasury, so winning Woman of the Year is a great accolade that I am very proud of. It is also a testament to the great work done by my team who have supported me tremendously by being dynamic and responsive to managing change and pursuing excellence.”

Rana has been an incredibly important figure to others in her field. In her current role, she has led her team to establish a robust, risk-based operation to manage the company’s surplus cash through a large network of more than 20 national and international financial institutions. The team’s primary objective is to mitigate the risks associated with cash concentration, while at the same time ensuring optimal use of cash balances under the umbrella of a stringent risk management framework.

Further achievements include significantly enhancing liquidity management through accurate cash forecasting processes by increased collaboration with the business units to extend visibility over longer time horizons. Over the last 12 to 18 months, this has helped the company to navigate the choppy waters of turbulent oil, gas and money markets.

Key responsibilities

As treasurer, Rana is responsible for overseeing the development and management of strategies, operations and policies related to the treasury function of all joint ventures operated by Qatargas comprising cash management, financial risk management, insurance, treasury operations and compliance. Her key responsibilities include:

  • Formulation and implementation of investment policies, including the establishment of risk parameters for the various ventures in accordance with the bespoke requirements of their shareholders and lending covenants. Managing a multibillion dollar investment portfolio.

  • Development and efficient functioning of processes and systems to determine daily cash position for local and offshore accounts of all joint ventures and forecasting future sources and uses of cash.

  • Assessing, managing and mitigating foreign currency exposure.

  • Managing credit risk reviews, exposure and risk mitigation strategies associated with the company’s sales to customers and key suppliers.

  • Administering a large scale multibillion dollar insurance programme for multiple joint ventures each operating as a distinct legal entity including claims investigation and negotiation, insurance risk management and relationship management with the insurance market.

  • Managing debt obligations, covenant compliance and lender relationships for three multibillion dollar project finance loan portfolios.

  • Ensuring the integrity and smooth functioning of the company’s electronic payment systems via SWIFT.

  • Ensuring treasury activities are in compliance with treasury policies, accounting guidelines, governance policies and internal controls.

Inside track

Before joining the world of treasury, Rana gained a B.Sc. Accounting at the University of Bahrain in 1994 and graduated with Honours. She was also awarded the Certificate of Excellence by the Head of State, Bahrain and has attained the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) accreditation from the Association of Financial Professionals (AFP) in the US.

Prior to being appointed treasurer, in September 2004, Rana joined Qatargas as Senior Revenue and Operations Accountant where she remained until August 2007 when she was appointed Head of Cash Management. Joshi says: “Previously, as Head of Cash Management, Rana was instrumental in guiding Qatargas through the financial crisis. She was aptly recognised by being promoted to the position of Treasurer in 2014 and has since managed the treasury organisation through strategic focus and fostering a culture of proactive planning, communication with business units and continuous improvement.

“Her emphasis on risk management and leveraging technology to enhance systematic controls, automation and straight through processing, has transformed the Qatargas treasury to be one of the best in class in the region.”

And Joshi isn’t the only one to applaud Rana’s achievements. Garry Looker, Chief Operating Officer Finance at Qatargas says: “Rana will have completed 12 years working for Qatargas this year in September and throughout this time has been recognised as a thoroughly dependable, innovative and collaborative work colleague. She successfully established the cash management division from the ground up where we now have a robust, well-controlled, high performance operation that is frequently approached by other Qatari organisations to share best practice.

“Rana is not only a natural leader, but is also technically adept at managing complex conditions, which allowed her team to maintain stability and achieve key deliverables expected from our stakeholders through periods of great uncertainty in the oil and financial markets.”

Coaching and mentoring

Looker also recognises Rana’s ability to engage younger female employees to reveal their true potential on their journey of building a career at Qatargas. “She is actively involved as a coach and mentor on a personal level as well as through the various programmes run by Qatargas to support graduate development and gender diversity in the company,” he says.

Rana is particularly passionate about her mentoring activities. Throughout her career, she has been engaged in multiple activities related to coaching and mentoring others, especially women within Qatargas.

“The Adam Smith Awards are known for being the ultimate industry benchmark for achievement in corporate treasury, so winning Woman of the Year is a great accolade that I am very proud of. It is also a testament to the great work done by my team who have supported me tremendously by being dynamic and responsive to managing change and pursuing excellence.”

Jawaher Al-Jehani, Senior Accountant, Venture Accounting, Finance at Qatargas was awarded ‘Best Graduate’ in 2014 and was coached by Rana. “Rana has inspired me with her unmatched qualities and abundant skills. She has taught me to never give up on my dreams and goals. I could have never made it to the top without her,” she recalls.

“She helped me in innumerable ways to gain confidence in myself and to make the right choices in my career. She has made a difference not only in my life, but has also touched the lives of several other graduates. I am extremely proud to have her as my mentor, and I will forever be grateful for everything she has done for me. Rana is not only a role model in her professional life, but also a kind-hearted and an amazing individual. She has made a great impact on my life.”

Women in the workplace

Rana also co-facilitated the ‘Women in the Workplace’ programme run by Qatargas, Learning and Development Department, in response to an initiative set by Dr. Mohammed Bin Saleh Al-Sada, the Minister for Energy and Industry, to increase the representation of women in the oil and gas industry in Qatar.

Not only is Rana active with initiatives and programmes within Qatargas, but she also supports other forums engaged in supporting the professional development of women such as WIFA Qatar (Women in Finance and Accounting – Qatar) and is a regular attendee at WIFA events. WIFA Qatar was established a few years back to provide a platform for female finance professionals to discuss a wide range of topics that impact women and their career progression in finance and accounting.

“Since their establishment, I have been supporting the forum by ensuring that I attend all of their events and also by encouraging female members of my team to make time out of the work day to attend the events. The real value of these forums is realised when women network and speak with each other and when successful women are able to share their stories and what worked well for them on their career journey,” says Rana.

Rana is also a mother demonstrating explicitly that there are few challenges that working women cannot overcome through determination, adaptability and hard work.

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