Treasury Today Country Profiles in association with Citi

Johnson Controls

Ariel Liu, Winner, A Rising Star

Photo of Ariel Liu, Johnson Controls and Sophie Jackson.

Ariel Liu is a rising star at Johnson Controls International (JCI) who has already proven her treasury prowess by playing a pivotal role in several high-profile projects within the organisation. Ariel is an avid learner with a strong desire to grow and advance her skill set. She started learning Japanese because of the JCH integration project, with the aim to communicate better with her Japanese counterparts from Hitachi. In addition, she is also undergoing the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) programme.

Photo of Ariel Liu, Johnson Controls and Sophie Jackson.

Ariel Liu

Treasury Manager

Ariel Liu is a Treasury Manager with regional experience and perspectives. She joined Johnson Controls (JCI) in 2012 as part of the regional treasury team in Hong Kong and relocated to JCI’s Asia headquarters in Shanghai in 2016, where she works predominately in liquidity and FX risk management, business advisory and M&A.

Taking the lead

Ariel Liu is a rising star at Johnson Controls International (JCI) who has already proven her treasury prowess by playing a pivotal role in several high-profile projects within the organisation.

Ariel joined JCI as part of the regional treasury team after graduating from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University with honours in Accounting and Finance in 2012. Beginning from scratch, she learnt about key treasury functions such as cash and foreign exchange (FX) risk management, as well as business advisory and mergers and acquisitions (M&As).

Marc Vandiepenbeeck, Vice President Assistant Treasurer at Johnson Controls originally hired Ariel and says that from day one he could see the potential that she had. “Ariel immediately demonstrated unparalleled work ethics as she had to navigate a complex organisation structure that spanned four different divisions in over 16 countries,” he says. “She looked closely for opportunities to improve the processes she had inherited from the former cash manager. She improved these so much that a substantial portion of her time was freed up to work on new projects, giving her the opportunity to concentrate on establishing a world-class cash management structure for a newly formed multi-billion dollar global joint venture with Hitachi.”

High achiever

In addition to leading this integration project, Ariel has a host of other notable achievements that she achieved in a relatively short time at JCI. These include:

  • Treasury Lead for the Tyco integration in Asia Pacific – responsible for consolidation of treasury policies, banking relationships and in-country liquidity structures of the two merged firms. The integration covered business in 16 countries generating US$1bn in the region.

  • Completed the request for proposal process for the JCH JV global banking relationship. JCH is a US$2.8bn business with operations in 16 countries across three continents.

  • Integral in the successful integration of the JCH JV within an aggressive timeline of six months. This included working closely with the relationship banking partners to centralise almost all local operations and reduce the number of legacy bank accounts from 249 to 35. She contributed to both the strategic planning as well as set up of a complex cash pooling structure spanning across 16 countries.

  • Optimised cash and debt level in restricted countries – developed various country strategies, such as cross-border pooling and intercompany loans, to pool excess cash to the global overlay cash pool that is in line with the firm’s policy and compliant with local regulations.

  • Analysed and optimised FX hedging strategies in restricted markets and implemented cash flow hedging whereregulations permit.

Contributed to improvements in shared service centre-related processes. For example, Ariel provided continuous training to SSC users on in-house payment systems. She also established the local system administrator role in Dalian, China, so that end users could receive timely onsite support. In addition, she helped to consolidate foreign currency payment cycles and streamline FX settlement processes in restricted currency countries.

Outside the office

Away from the demands of work, Ariel is an avid learner with a strong desire to grow and advance her skill set. She started learning Japanese because of the JCH integration project, with the aim to communicate better with her Japanese counterparts from Hitachi. In addition, she is also undergoing the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) programme.

Testimonial

“Ariel sets the bar very high and pursues goals by making noticeable progress. The management highly recognises her contribution and potential and provides support to her growth. Ariel is a tremendous asset for us and has my highest recommendation,” says Roger Sun, VP, Asia Treasurer at Johnson Controls.

Key qualities

  • Communication:

    In a changing culture, Ariel was able to gain the Taiwan Hitachi JV partners’ confidence in the new management. She displayed initiative and proactive engagement of the stakeholders, as well as maintaining an open communication to build trust and collaboration.

  • Fast learner:

    Ariel was able to quickly master the different treasury management systems and cash management products and services. She was able to independently handle the cash management function within one year after she joined the company.

  • People management:

    Ariel has trained seven fellow analysts and several other finance team members on various systems and processes, including FX regulations in the various Asia Pacific markets.

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