Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

DuPont

Shirley Hiew, Winner, Woman of the Year 2014

Shirley Hiew, DuPont

The Woman of the Year Award was first introduced in 2013 and has attracted enormous interest. We were truly amazed at the high standard of all the nominations in this category. It reinforces our belief that there are many fantastic women within the industry enjoying inspiring and very successful careers.

Photo of Shirley Hiew.

Shirley Hiew

Global Cash Lead; Treasurer, Asia Pacific

Shirley Hiew’s career started in Singapore as Financial Analyst at ICI and she subsequently became the Finance and IT lead for the Chemical business unit. In 1999, Shirley joined DuPont regional treasury team in Singapore before taking a regional Finance lead role in Shanghai. She now leads the treasury centre in Singapore, with accountability for Global Subsidiary Financing and Global Cash Management. Shirley holds a qualification in Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

Described as having a unique combination of hands-on leadership and a great strategic vision around her areas of responsibility, Shirley Hiew, Global Cash Lead, Treasurer, Asia Pacific at DuPont is the deserved winner of the 2014 Treasury Today Asia Woman of the Year Award.

Our judges made their decision based on the major part Shirley has played in some key transformational Treasury projects at DuPont. These include the divestiture of the Performance Coatings business last year, her current work on separating the Performance Chemicals business and the vision/design of a new cash management system – this involves streamlined bank infrastructure supporting the company globally and the effective use of in-house banking.

Based in Singapore, Shirley is responsible for global cash management and inter-entity financing for DuPont. She reports to Donna Grier, VP Treasurer for DuPont based in Wilmington, USA who had this to say about Shirley:

“Shirley is a key leader in DuPont’s Global Treasury team, who effectively leads a local Asian team as well as global teams located in Europe and the US. With a wonderful dissatisfaction with the status quo, Shirley is always focused on how things can be improved and works hard with perseverance and inspires her teams to do the same. She consistently takes whatever we ask her to do and figures out how to accomplish the objective with excellence, often surpassing the goals and finding ways to solve seemingly insurmountable problems.”

Shirley received her training and obtained her qualification in Management Accountancy while in Singapore from what is now known as the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA). She then took her first step into the corporate world joining Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), in 1991, as a Financial Analyst in their Paints Business regional office in Singapore. During her tenure with ICI, she also took charge of the finance functions for the Singapore chemical business unit, overseeing all aspects of finance and IT. The highlight of her career with ICI was spearheading the change to the company’s emailing system, in Asia Pacific, from the legacy DOS system to Lotus Notes, implementing a new accounting system and streamlining the finance processes. These changes achieved significant productivity gains.

Two years prior to leaving ICI in 1998, she was assigned as a business segment regional strategic planning and finance leader. Within a couple of years, together with the business leaders, they were able to make a significant difference in cash generation. Shirley left ICI as part of the divestiture of a business segment to DuPont and retained her position in the new company.

“Just prior to the turn of the millennium, I joined Asia Pacific Treasury Team in DuPont, initially leading Customer and Supplier Financing activities,” says Shirley. “Shortly after, I moved on to oversee Subsidiary Financing and Leasing. Then in 2001, whilst I was leading the Asia Pacific Treasury in Singapore, I, with four of my peers from other parts of the world, were assigned as a core team to implement a single global treasury management system and subsequently centralise treasury activities to three global centres, the US and Singapore (front offices), and Spain (back office). We completed the project scope in 2003.”

“As a treasury leader within the organisation, Shirley is an advocate of challenging the status quo and putting in place the best practices for cash operations processes for DuPont.”

Alan Lai, Treasury Manager, DuPont, Singapore.

In early 2004, Shirley moved to Shanghai in a regional finance lead role for a business segment of the company covering the Asia Pacific region headquartered in Shanghai. She maintained this position for nearly five years with a focus on profitability and growth, including valuation and negotiation of numerous M&A deals. In late 2008, she returned to lead the Treasury Centre in Singapore, again with added accountability for Global Subsidiary Financing and shortly thereafter, Global Cash Management.

Shirley’s broad experience in treasury, accounting and business finance has allowed her to view topics and understand situations with varied perspectives, with the ability to articulate the needs of stakeholders from other competencies. “As a treasury leader within the organisation, Shirley is an advocate of challenging the status quo and putting in place the best practices for cash operations processes for DuPont,” says Alan Lai, Treasury Manager at DuPont, Singapore.

Key highlights for the recent years include consolidating worldwide cash for a multi-billion dollar acquisition. “Shirley has been an invaluable Treasury leadership team member in key transformational projects for DuPont,” says Donna, “including the divestiture of the Performance Coatings business in 2013, the current work on separating the Performance Chemicals business and the vision/design of a new treasury cash management system involving a streamlined bank infrastructure supporting DuPont globally and the effective use of in-house banking.”

Shirley’s vision in modernising and transforming the complex legacy bank account architecture of DuPont, her repeated successes in assimilating and separating banking and cash processes into and out of DuPont Treasury in the many acquisitions and divestitures that DuPont has undertaken (eg DPC, Pannar, Performance Chemicals, Danisco) and, lastly, promoting her top performers out of her group in affording them broadening opportunities around the globe, are just some of her key achievements.

“Shirley sets high personal and professional standards for herself, her teams and our banking partners aimed at leading practices and creating competitive advantage for DuPont.”

Donna Grier, VP Treasurer, DuPont

The infrastructure she has envisioned will dramatically reduce the number of bank relationships, improve visibility, and ensure that in-house bank processes are fully integrated.

Aside from her excellent treasury skills, Shirley is also a leader. “Armed with both strong technical knowledge and soft skills, Shirley is able to successfully manage a dedicated team both with close proximity and remotely,” says Alan.

Michael Heffernan, Treasury Manager at DuPont based in the US adds: “I would describe Shirley’s management style as one that begins and ends with high expectations. Those high expectations begin with her own performance and she spends a lot of time in self-evaluation seeking opportunities to continuously improve as a leader. The same high expectations extend to her team. Shirley gives direct (not sterilised) feedback to her team members that remove any ambiguity as to her evaluation of their performance. This in no way implies that the feedback is negative because it is also Shirley’s style to showcase team and individual successes to management to make sure leadership is aware of the accomplishments of the members of her team. She cares deeply for her team. She is simultaneously demanding and protective and takes more pride in her team’s success than in her own.”

When Shirley was informed of our judges’ decision she responded as follows: “I am truly honoured and pleasantly surprised to be nominated for this award.”

Alan adds: “As a treasury professional, Shirley keeps raising the bar for her team members as well as banking partners. Her thought-provoking ideas and comments have led to many development opportunities to her team by empowering us to carry out stretch assignments or projects. The same consistent expectations are imposed on banking partners to drive operational excellence leading to some organisation changes in these banks to support DuPont efficiently on a global scale.”

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