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Treasury Today’s Woman of the Year 2018 Winner: Elena P. LaFrance

Photo of Elena P. LaFrance, Alkermes and Meg Coates

Elena P. LaFrance has a unique ability to combine excellence in treasury with exceptional leadership, coupled with her personal drive and tireless work to offer opportunities to others. She is a true example of a business leader who has gone way above and beyond in order to drive forward business but also to pave the way for the next generation.

Photo of Elena P. LaFrance, Alkermes and Meg Coates.

Elena P. LaFrance

Treasurer

Massachusetts, US

Elena P. LaFrance is Treasurer at Alkermes Inc. Her primary responsibilities are to establish, maintain and improve domestic and international treasury processes, as well as ensure processes are efficient and welldocumented. Elena has a degree in Accounting and an MBA in Strategic Management from Sacred Heart University. She previously worked in treasury roles at Haemonetics Corporation, Suffolk Construction and RR Donnelley.

Leading the march to progress

As womens’ representation and diversity and inclusion agendas have come to the forefront of global business’s cultural conscious, there are individuals leading the march to progress by example. These individuals in their everyday professional and personal lives are paving the way to make life and business easier and better for the next generation.

The visibility of such examples is critically important in fostering the next generation of diverse talent. Elena P. LaFrance is a true example of a business leader who has gone way above and beyond in order to drive forward business but also to pave the way for the next generation and she embodies the spirit of Treasury Today’s Women in Treasury initiative perfectly!

Elena’s career in finance began on graduation from Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Massachusetts, with a series of accountancy roles before joining the printing group RR Donnelly as a Treasury Analyst. Within six months Elena was promoted to Cash Manager. There then followed four years at Suffolk Construction where in a Treasury Manager role, she reported directly to the CFO, effectively creating a new treasury department from scratch. After another four years as Senior Manager, Treasury at Haemonetics Corporation, Elena moved to her current role at Alkermes, as Treasurer.

Elena’s major professional strengths include her ability to exceed expectations and to succeed in a new job environment. She is an innovative, community focused team player with excellent problem solving skills who is able to work under pressure and meet deadlines. Overall, Elena is a well-organised, dependable, energetic professional who takes pride in her work.

In her current role at Alkermes Inc, where Elena has been based since February 2012, Elena reports to the SVP of Finance and focuses on establishing, maintaining and improving all treasury processes. Elena’s personal leadership of the treasury team at Alkermes, which she joined shortly after the company’s merger with Irish company Elan Drug Technologies, resulted in the smooth integration of the two companies and the consolidation of banking services to a single global provider. This project involved working closely both with the global bank and with the Alkermes team in Ireland. Elena’s personal role in persuading team members of the advantages of moving to a new bank and allaying any concerns was critical to the success of the project.

Other significant achievements at Alkermes include establishing a global investment policy and guidelines; managing the company’s investment advisors to ensure they are compliant, and implementing a cash forecasting model, working closely with the financial planning and analysis (FP&A) team.

Here is what her boss, Iain Brown, Senior Vice President of Finance and Chief Accounting Officer, Alkermes, who strongly supported her nomination, has to say on the matter:

“Elena has been with Alkermes for six years and was added to the finance team as the company’s first Treasurer. She has been successful in establishing the role and working very closely with departments across the company notably, finance, IT, government pricing, payroll, tax, procurement, legal, accounts payable and financial planning and analysis. She actively manages an investment portfolio of over US$540m, working with internal and external business partners, and takes care of all the company’s day-to-day banking needs. Some of her key achievements as Treasurer include:

  • Global centralisation of our deposit accounts. Alkermes, as it exists today, was created from the merger of an Irish entity and a US entity in 2011. Following the merger, they were on multiple ERP systems and different banking platforms, with different banking processes. Elena led an initiative to move the Irish banking operations from Bank of Ireland to Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and implemented best practice banking processes. The project ran into some road blocks but Elena was able to resolve the issues and get the project done on time and without any adverse impact on daily operations.

  • Issued a comprehensive global investment policy and works closely with the company’s external investment advisors to ensure the portfolio of over US$540m is in line with policy and any issues are identified early and addressed before they become a problem.

  • Created a cash forecasting model. Elena was the project lead and created a model that tracks actual and forecast for monthly cash needs for all group companies. This involves the integration of intercompany transactions, internal and external debt activity, balance sheet movements, and revenue, expense and stock option activities.

During 2017 Elena worked to increase her visibility within the organisation, presenting at the Audit and Risk Committee and subsidiary board meetings. She worked on understanding their exposure to both interest rate and FX risk and proposed solutions to both. In addition, she worked with the internal SOX team and the IT team to develop a cyber-security task force and she partnered with Bank of America Merrill Lynch to increase education and awareness around this current concern, running ‘lunch-and-learns’ in the office and creating a section on the company website to keep employees up to date.

Outside of work, Elena is a new mother, and also mother to a ten year-old stepson. She contributes to the community, volunteering at the Bristol Lodge Soup Kitchen in Waltham, preparing dinners for the homeless and also providing toys as Christmas presents to kids who may otherwise not get anything.”

As Iain puts it, Elena is not only a stand-out treasury leader, but an all-round contributor to the Massachusetts community in which she lives. Her professionalism throughout a 20-year career in treasury and finance is matched only by her initiative outside working hours in support of community projects. Elena has gained local recognition for her ultimate dedication, most effectively summed up by the Tryumph Foundation, an organisation which she launched in 2013 to offer scholarships to students who show dedication to community work. The organisation has now successfully helped many students to attend college.

“Winning the Treasury Today’s Woman of the Year Award in the 2018 Adam Smith Awards has been an incredible honour and a humbling experience. I appreciate the recognition by Treasury Today, my boss and my peers. This award focuses on the application of hard work, determination, commitment, giving back and being a team player. On a personal note, it has validated the work I have produced in this industry and I will strive for continued growth in the years to come.”

– Elena P. LaFrance, Treasurer

As well as her work with the Tryumph Foundation, Elena is also a volunteer and contributor to a number of Boston charities including Greater Boston Food Bank, Friends of Boston’s Homeless, Big Brother Big Sister, One Fund Boston, the Life is Good Playmakers and Bristol Soup Kitchen. Elena’s ability to combine excellence in treasury leadership with tireless work for social causes makes her very special indeed and this is reflected in the strength and longevity of her professional relationships. One of Elena’s previous employers was more than happy to add weight to her nomination for this coveted award. Tracy Sorrell, Former Assistant Treasurer of Haemonetics Corporation and Senior Treasury Professional said the following:

“Elena and I worked together for several years at Haemonetics Corporation. I really enjoyed working with her as we were part of a successful team. Elena was focused, dedicated and respectful of others during our time working together. I remember a particular tax payment issue we had to resolve. The tax person had left for the day and had made an error on an ACH tax payment submission. Elena and I stayed late to re-input all of the tax payments to ensure they would be successful. She could have left me to do it but was a real partner and worked on it with me. She also is a self-starter, often going the extra mile to understand how to make a process more efficient while balancing controls and Sox compliance.

I have stayed in contact with Elena since she left Haemonetics to start as a Treasurer at her current company. Elena had the courage to apply for and be successful at the job opening. She has been successful at her current company. From a personal perspective, Elena is engaging, and loyal to her friends and family. She is always willing to help, to make someone’s life easier and shows that enthusiasm for life for those around her. She started her non-profit, Tryumph, to help others in need. I fully support Elena’s nomination for Woman of the Year.”

Elena’s ability to combine excellence in treasury with exceptional leadership, coupled with her personal drive and tireless work to offer opportunity to others, makes her a most worthy winner of our Woman of the Year 2018 award.

Treasury Today’s Woman of the Year 2018 Highly Commended Winners

Amanda Schreiber

Amanda Schreiber

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