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Woman of the Year 2019 Winner: Catherine Portman

Photo of Meg Coates and Catherine Portman, Uber.

Photo of Meg Coates and Catherine Portman, Uber.

Catherine Portman

Head of Global Treasury

US

Delivering through outstanding leadership and a strong work ethic


Catherine Portman is the Overall Winner in the Adam Smith Awards Woman of the Year category. The recently appointed Head of Global Treasury at Uber has spent the majority of her fantastic career in treasury at Juniper Networks, an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks headquartered in California. During her tenure at Juniper, Catherine’s role evolved with the growing business and she quickly became known for her visionary leadership in treasury and for driving change across the organisation. She is now in a new role at Uber, a testament to a professional whose career has been marked by a commitment to best practices in leadership and a strong work ethic.

Catherine is truly an outstanding leader who inspires and coaches not only her team but many others around her in the organisations in which she works. Catherine recognises the importance of diverse teams with a variety of skillsets in today’s corporate world. She fosters a professional environment which allows for multiple skillsets and personality types to be valued and appreciated on a meritocratic basis and has been instrumental in advancing the careers of many who have worked for her.

Known for cultivating a learning and collaborative environment amongst her teams to encourage growth and leadership development, Catherine encourages and supports her teams to work cross functionally and proactively. A lifelong learner and strategic thinker herself, she is constantly observing where the industry is heading and positioning her teams to be out in front of coming changes.

A native Californian with roots in Silicon Valley, Catherine’s early career began at Apple as a treasury analyst. She continually took on additional duties and found herself working with increasing responsibility and advancing into more senior management roles at other local high-tech firms. She was recruited to build out Juniper’s treasury organisation soon after its initial public offering. Catherine stayed at Juniper for 18.5 years, her last position before leaving as Vice President, Corporate Treasury and Finance Operations.

Catherine is rare in her unwavering commitment to the development of her teams. It is a quality that should be held up as a fine example to corporate leaders everywhere. She is committed to her vision and isn’t afraid to take a stand to make sure that the companies she works at are heading in the right direction. This, coupled with her humble approach to her business success, makes her a true model of a leader.

Ken Miller, EVP and CFO at Juniper Networks said the following of Catherine, “I’ve worked with Catherine Portman for all of her 18.5 years at Juniper. Over her career at Juniper I’ve watched her build out our treasury function after our IPO from hiring team members to creating and implementing policies to managing our relationships with the banks and everything in between. She’s been instrumental in ensuring our treasury function is a key partner to achieving business results through the development of our financing offerings and partnering with our financial services sales teams to increase our relevance with these strategic customers. Most recently she’s led the development, implementation and execution of our strong capital return programme. This has been a critical part of the evolution of our company, and her leadership was key to our success in this area.

“In addition, Catherine is a leader I look to as a role model in hiring strong and diverse team members from skillsets, to backgrounds and diversity of thought. She’s known as someone who gets things done collaboratively across the Juniper organisation to make sure the right long-term decisions are being made for the company. She’s mentored and developed strong team members who will use their learnings to continue to drive this critical behaviour within Juniper.”

I am so deeply honoured and grateful to be recognised for this award. I love the work that I do and have been extremely fortunate to have worked with and worked for some incredibly smart and authentic people. I believe it’s important to give back in ways that one is comfortable in doing so. For me, leading and inspiring my team and others is how I do that.

Catherine Portman, Head of Global Treasury, Uber

This practice of leading by example and mentoring while giving back to the community that you are part of both within and outside of an organisation is at the heart of Treasury Today’s Women in Treasury community. Catherine epitomises the spirit of leadership, support and inspiration that is at the core of the work we do to raise the profile of women in treasury and to create a more diverse and inclusive industry of the future.

Robyn Denholm, Chairwoman of the Board, Tesla and former Juniper CFO said the following of Catherine, “I have known Catherine professionally since 2007, when I joined Juniper as the CFO and she was the Assistant Treasurer. She has always been on the top of her game and ahead of the company’s needs in terms of all things treasury. She handled and led a number of company firsts over the 18 years she has been at Juniper such as its first convertible bond offerings, first public debt IPO, first substantial share buybacks, first cash dividends, and first enterprise risk management framework. In doing all of this, she expanded the role of treasury and its relevance within the company. She has also had a significant role in developing the people agenda within the finance function within the company, hiring, developing, rotating and mentoring employees from different parts of the organisation and also having an active role in Juniper’s internship programme for finance.

“She has been an active advocate for diversity in the company and through various forums externally. I can’t speak more highly of Catherine as an outstanding pillar of the treasurer community.”

Outside the workplace, Catherine is a dedicated mother of a 19-year old son and will be celebrating her 22nd wedding anniversary this August. Her “boys” as well as her vast extended family – being the youngest of six girls – are foundational elements of her workstyle and moral compass that she brings into the workplace. “My parents raised us to be hard working and supportive of one another,” Catherine notes. “Having five older sisters, who were all involved in my upbringing is truly the underpinning of how I approach working with and communicating with people in the workplace.”

Leaving behind a successful career at Juniper after so many years can be a difficult transition. But with a leader such as Catherine, she’s left behind a team that is positioned to carry on her legacy and mindset when it comes to teamwork and collaboration. And she’s joined Uber at an interesting crossroads for the company, having just gone public themselves just a few months ago. Bringing on new leaders like Catherine will help them along their journey as a public company, building teams and a treasury organisation that’s ready for the growth and bold mission the company has set for its future.

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