Photo of Anita Prasad.
Last year Anita Prasad’s Treasury Capital Management team was awarded Treasury Today’s Top Treasury Team accolade. This year Anita returns as our deserved “Woman of the Year”.
Anita Prasad is responsible for corporate finance, capital structure, share buybacks and dividend policy, structured investments, global cash and liquidity, treasury operations, and credit services for MS online businesses. Previously Prasad was Vice President of Treasury and Tax at LSI Logic Corporation. Prasad was an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee and holds a Bachelors and Masters in Economics, an MBA in MIS, and a PhD in Finance and International Business.
Anita was nominated by a member of her team who says, “Anita is the epitome of a strong female leader in Microsoft’s organisation. She demonstrates leadership with the highest integrity and is a strong promoter of talent for high-potential men and women in the organisation.”
In her role at Microsoft Anita is responsible for corporate finance, capital structure, share buybacks and dividend policy, structured investments, global cash and liquidity, treasury operations, and credit services for Microsoft’s online businesses. She manages a team of over 200 full-time and vendor employees within Microsoft’s treasury and drives the long-term strategy of the department, which is focused on leading innovation.
Technology plays a large role in this for Anita, who is always thinking about how it can make tasks better, easier, more cost-effective and streamlined. For example, she uses a WRT app designed for Windows smartphone to approve wire payments every working day. She also refers back to a treasury analytics app on her tablet at regular points during the day, just to check on how operations are running.
In 2014 alone, her team has delivered cutting-edge business intelligence solutions, proactive risk management by getting in front of Dodd-Frank and EMIR, successful EUR and USD bond issuance deals, and continuous process improvement through automation.
Anita’s success is partly down to the high-level view she adopts when tackling treasury challenges. Since joining Microsoft in 2005, Anita has taken a strategic and holistic approach across the company and has led her team through a number of “firsts” including:
Obtaining their first corporate rating in 2008, achieving Triple-A ratings. Microsoft was one of only five companies at the time to achieve this.
Establishing its first commercial paper programme.
Offering the company’s first EUR and USD bond offering.
Establishing its first revolving credit facility.
In addition, since the debut bond offering, she has overseen more than $25 billion (USD equivalent) in capital raises, each thoughtfully timed with the ability to realise very successful results. Furthermore, all these milestones were achieved while Anita also managed Microsoft’s global liquidity, capital structure, treasury operations and a $40 billion share repurchase programme.
I have had the pleasure of working with Anita for the past decade. We worked together on elements that technically were not part of her responsibilities but that didn’t stop Anita leaning in and making sure we took care of messaging appropriately to investors and on our earnings calls.
Six years ago, I took a role as a sales leader and we work as closely as ever. Unexpected, isn’t it, that treasury would work with sales. But this is the sort of leader and team player she is. She is the type of peer and partner that we all hope to get to work with in our careers.
Colleen Healy, Microsoft
Some of the projects Anita is currently working on include a supply chain management programmeme, enhancing business intelligence capability for dynamic decision support, driving efficiency in capital projects, and leveraging big data to help understand patterns and forecasting.
An industry peer of Anita’s has said that, “She tackles every project with passion, excitement and a commitment to delivering the most successful solution for the company. She is a trailblazer who looks to break down barriers that can sometimes exist in large institutions that can slow down their development, and is well respected by her peers and partners given her expansive knowledge base, innovativeness, experience and approach.”
Before entering corporate life, Anita was an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She holds a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Economics, an MBA in Management Information Systems (MIS), and a PhD in Finance and International Business. After leaving academia Anita became the Treasury Manager, Capital Markets at Lam Research before moving to become the Vice President, Treasury and Tax, at LSI Logic Corporation. In this role Anita provided leadership in designing effective balance sheet structuring, manufacturing strategy and pricing policy, stock buyback programmes, currency and interest rate risk management, M&A, domestic and off-shore portfolio management, venture portfolio, and international tax structuring.
Anita describes her core values as follows:
– “in what I do, how I do it and how I conduct myself.”
– “I truly believe that passion for what you do is critical; if you don’t enjoy what you do and don’t feel a connection and passion then no matter how hard you work, you can’t make a difference and have a lasting impact.”
– “I am indebted to various mentors in my personal and professional life and I feel that the best way to thank them is to mentor and help others around me.”
– “by being a coach in the truest sense of the word.”
– “I believe that a building and leading high-performance teams is like creating a mosaic with diverse and complementary skills and then bringing out the best in each while working towards a common goal.”
– “I am more of big-picture strategic thinker who loves new challenges.”
On a more personal front, Anita was born in India, spent the early part of her life in India and Abu Dhabi before moving to the US, where she has lived in the south, north-east, mid-west, and now the west coast. However, London is her favourite city in the world. She is the Treasurer of the Board of Trustees of the independent school that her sons attend. She loves the ‘giving’ spirit that all Microsoft employees reflect, starting with their founder Bill Gates, and she strives to do her part by supporting wildlife preservation, education for the less fortunate, and the Shankara Eye foundation, which provides the gift of sight to those who can’t afford medical care.
The value of education and hard work was instilled from an early age by her parents and Anita now approaches life with the motto “Dream big and set goals high.” It is her view that anything can be achieved if one sets their mind to it, so even if only 60% of a high goal is achieved, this is greater than achieving 100% of a lesser goal.
When Anita was informed of our judges’ decision she responded as follows:
“I am truly humbled and honoured that someone from my team would recommend me for this recognition. Whoever is responsible did not consult with me; I am sure he or she knows that I would have talked them out of this submission. Honestly, when I look around me and see what several of my female colleagues have achieved across treasury and finance at various corporates it inspires me to be a better person, professional and leader.”
“I have been truly fortunate to work with a leader like George Zinn, CVP and Treasurer at Microsoft, who is a great role model and coach; he gives me the freedom to be creative and drive impactful business results,” she adds.