Photo of Christine McCarthy, The Walt Disney Company.
This year’s Treasury Today Woman of the Year, Christine McCarthy, has demonstrated real achievement in her career whilst dedicating a significant amount of her own time to inspire younger women with the lessons she has learnt on the path to success. Our judges felt she was a true role model to other women in the world of treasury and her colleagues at The Walt Disney Company agreed: “She is a strong and inspiring leader who believes in empowering her team, while giving them guidance and support to achieve even greater success,” says Tom Staggs the company’s Chief Operating Officer.
Senior EVP and Chief Financial Officer
Christine M. McCarthy oversees the worldwide entertainment company’s corporate finance, capital markets, financial risk management, international treasury, insurance, pension and investments, global cash management and treasury operations, credit and collections, corporate alliances and global real estate. Prior to Disney, McCarthy was Chief Financial Officer of Imperial Bancorp, and EVP of Finance for First Interstate Bancorp.
Christine McCarthy’s extensive professional experience comprises numerous finance, strategy and planning positions and includes dedication to many boards (Chair of the Finance Committee for FM Global, for instance) and industry affiliations (such as The Trusteeship and International Women’s Forum). Moreover, Christine’s entry into the financial world dates back to 1981; a time when there were few women entering financial careers.
As her title suggests, Christine’s role at The Walt Disney Company encompasses responsibility for the company-wide management of a broad range of functions. Described by the Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Walt Disney Company, Jay Rasulo, as “instrumental in the financial management of our company, successfully overseeing a complex portfolio that includes treasury, alliances and corporate real estate,” Christine is Treasury Today’s well-deserved Woman of the Year 2015.
During her 15-year progression at Disney, Christine has been witness to the effects of the financial crisis on a corporation with an international presence. Responsible for the company’s global finance activities (including leading project finance activities for expansion at the time), was she intimidated? Far from it. Rather, she faced the series of challenges head-on, learning valuable lessons on the way. The end result has meant her team and the company was in the best possible position to continue down the path of large-scale projects, especially in Disney’s Parks and Resorts segment which had already commenced by embracing techniques including:
A group wide view on liquidity.
“Liquidity has always been a focal point in treasury but now counterparty risk is something we never take our eyes off,” she explains. Aided by some new technologies, Disney is now able to look at counterparty risk on a consolidated enterprise-wide basis across all banking relationships and products. “We don’t use only credit ratings because they can be rather stale – you certainly can’t rely on them because some of the institutions that failed during the crisis were very well rated.”
Instead, she has refined a process that incorporates, for example, dynamic credit default swap rates (CDS) and stock-price changes to assess counterparty risk. Everything is measured relative to a basket of financial institutions to rule out market movements rather than individual performance blips.
Maintaining dynamic banking relationships.
As a result of treasury’s more extensive process, some banks – both large global and regional institutions – were removed from its list of partners. Christine feels that although the crisis has abated, the banking environment is still “dynamic” and vigilance must be maintained. “We have to keep adjusting our exposures, and with some banks it is better that we just part ways.” As a perfect example of the dynamism of Disney’s bank line-up, where a few years ago there were none, today’s banking partners include the four largest Chinese banks – the new Shanghai Disney Resort giving Disney strong presence and visibility in the country (due to be opened in Spring 2016).
Moreover, Christine’s executive leadership and management of major projects includes the capital structure negotiations for the joint venture for Shanghai Disneyland, the 2012 refinancing and ongoing 2014-2015 restructuring of Euro Disney/Disneyland Paris, acquisition and financings of Marvel and Lucas Films, acquisition and financing of UTV (Mumbai, India), enterprise project for payments governance, real estate development and divestitures in Burbank and Glendale, CA and New York City, as well as major construction and development projects in Singapore, Mumbai, Shanghai, Tokyo and Buenos Aires.