Adam Smith Awards 2018: a true celebration of community

Adam Smith Awards 2018 four winners

Over 200 entries from 35 countries made up this year’s Treasury Today Adam Smith Awards. With the judging over and the winners notified, it’s down to the prestigious Gala Presentation Lunch, held in the City of London’s Plaisterers’ Hall, to gather the treasury world’s finest and celebrate their success.

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The idea that the treasury space is a community may, to outsiders, seem like a fanciful notion. After all, it is the place where highly qualified professionals operate, sometimes in intensely competitive fields, always in challenging environments wherever they are in the world.

But with entrants from as far afield as Bahrain and Brazil, Canada and Cameroon, the UK and the US, the Treasury Today Adam Smith Awards 2018 reads like a roll-call from United Nations. And, as Angela Berry, Founder & Director of the Treasury Today Group, said in her opening speech, this is a group of people who gather “not only to celebrate, but as an opportunity to meet one another and share experiences”.

Having celebrated its first decade last year, this year’s Adam Smith Awards event was honoured with the presence of greatness, not least in the form of Adam Smith. As a Highly Commended in the Best Card Solution section, Microsoft’s own namesake of the great man himself, aptly played up to the coincidence, the audience delighting in the moment.

But if ever there was doubt that treasurers are part of a real community, the spontaneous standing ovation given to the wife and daughter of this year’s Winner of Best Cash Management Solution, Inchcape Shipping Services’ Nirpal Bharaj, displaces any such idea.

Nirpal sadly passed away a few weeks before the Awards ceremony. With his family bravely stepping up to collect his justly deserved trophy – won in the face of intense competition – the genuine respect shown for this talented, vastly experienced and much-loved man is evidence that being professional and deeply caring are not mutually exclusive concepts.

Shared goal

As the Adam Smith Awards continue from strength to strength, this truly international cast of expert teams and their partners have delivered – and keep delivering – solutions to meet a broad range of corporate treasury challenges.

The 240-plus guests at this year’s event all have one thing in common: the belief that the determination, teamwork, collaboration, innovation and sheer hard work of the community ensures progress for all.

The core criterion for the Adam Smith Awards is the demonstration of best practice and innovation. This can be evidenced by outstanding cost savings, above average ROI, optimisation of accounts and treasury structures, and quantitative improvements in efficiency. Cutting edge technology, tailor-made solutions, exceptional implementations, and quality accreditation are all par for the course too – singularly or in any combination.

Quality rules

Making the grade is not easy. With a calibre of entrants such as Microsoft, which this year scooped Best Working Capital Management and the Judges’ Choice awards, adidas (winner in the Best Risk Management category), and Nike (Best Foreign Exchange solution winner), treasury teams are up against some very well-known competition. And clearly the challenge is accepted with relish.

Joerg Bermueller from global pharmaceutical firm, Merck, the Overall Winner in the First Class Relationship Management category, said strong teamwork and communication has been “crucial” to success. Being able to keep everybody in the loop over a six-year project has been a test of Merck treasury’s skill and judgement. But the Award, he said, gives the team “even greater recognition in the Group Finance function, and with external partners”.

With the likes of Royal DSM (Best Card solution), STMicroelectronics (Best Funding) and Carnival UK (Harnessing the Power of Emerging Technology), emerging triumphant this year, household names are not the only victors. Indeed, winners are declared at a personal level too.

This year’s Rising Star is Dominique Cachelin. Samsung’s energetic and communicative powerhouse attributes his success to the “huge number of incredibly intelligent and knowledgeable people who have had the patience to teach me”. Without them, he said, “I would not be here today”.

Amanda Schreiber from ICU Medical, the Highly Commended Winner in the Woman of the Year category echoes Cachelin’s thoughts, noting that treasurers should “never stop asking for advice. Those at the top needed advice and help on the way; they didn’t do it on their own”. Winning the award, she added, “shows that someone from the outside has seen what I’ve done and acknowledges and appreciates my direction and focus”.

Treasury Today’s Overall Winner of the Woman of the Year award this year, Elena P. LaFrance from biopharmaceutical company, Alkermes, said one of the key elements of individual success is to “know your audience”. It is vital, she believes, to understand the motivation of individuals both inside and outside the organisation in order to be heard, to build solid community foundations and to ensure success for all. On a deeply personal level, she described her success at this Awards as “surreal” and “something that I never felt would have been possible”.

But it is. And this year’s Adam Smith Awards proves yet again that treasury is made up of some of the best talent in business. But not only that, it proves that in a dog-eat-dog world, treasury is home to a genuine spirit of community.

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