For the first time in our history, the Treasury Today Group are delighted to have awarded a Special Recognition award within our Adam Smith Awards 2023. This is awarded to Anita Mehra for her outstanding services to the industry as a whole and to driving innovation in corporate treasury.
Anita Mehra is Corporate Vice President, Treasurer and leads the Global Treasury & Financial Services (GTFS) organisation at Microsoft, a global team of over 1,100 personnel represented in more than 20 countries which oversees Microsoft’s global liquidity, financial and currency risk, worldwide banking, payments strategy, collections, cash management, and capital structure, including US$65bn of debt, US$130bn investment portfolio and annual cash collections of US$180bn.
Anita credits the mission of Microsoft that gives her and her team permission to dream big and have bold ambitions. The values of respect, integrity, and accountability coupled with an aspire to culture that focuses on inclusion and growth mindset allows the team to challenge status-quo, move with agility and innovate. Manager competencies of model, coach and care create an environment for the team to thrive and bring their best to work every day. When you create an environment of trust, people are more willing to take on challenges, try new ideas and learn fast when things don’t work out.
“The opportunities provided by my manager, Amy Hood, and knowing that she always has my back, gives me the freedom and courage to take on new challenges. I love the healthy debates with my peers across the company as we work towards customer centric solutions. I am grateful for an incredible team and they deserve all the credit,” says Anita.
Leading by example – driving innovation
She is a leader of innovation both internally and with her customers through digital transformation of treasury operations, defines modern payments strategy to steer ecommerce with partners, and drives partnership with the financial services industry.
Anita has navigated a tumultuous year full of challenges with care, optimism, and steadfastness by building upon her decades of work to culminate in a best-in-class treasury team that is an industry leader. From return to office post pandemic, war and macroeconomic uncertainty, rising interest rates and inflation, to slow down in Big Tech revenue and growth, Anita has led and is an example to others of an outstanding Corporate Treasurer now and for the future.
Anita is a vanguard promoting innovations and her forward-thinking has led to the successful adoption of numerous cutting-edge technologies. She has led the use of SWIFT-on-Azure, which is a first-to-market architecture using Azure Confidential Compute (ACC) Virtual Machines (VMs) that Microsoft customers can adopt for mission critical and highly- sensitive data workloads which ensure confidentiality and data privacy protection. Microsoft is known as a leader in Artificial Intelligence and the Machine Learning technology evolution; however, Anita has been at the forefront for utilising this technology internally first to automate and optimise key functions including credit risk management, FX/cash flow forecasting, dispute automation and customer invoicing. This has resulted in increased revenue velocity, improved cost efficiency, and enhanced customer and stakeholder satisfaction all while preserving the same risk exposure. This modernisation of finance and treasury also includes natural language chatbots, and blockchain-as-a-service for trade letters of credit.
Challenging the status quo
Anita challenges her team to live with a growth mindset and question the status quo, her insatiable quest for a better way has also led to streamlining and standardisation of business processes, vendor management, and approach to business insurance coverage and practices. Anita leads with a customer centric approach; this includes work to improve the end-to-end customer billing experience including policy simplification, which resulted in eliminating 50% of Microsoft billing policies, and fully digitising customer invoicing with e-invoicing exchange framework, as well as driving a move to digital payments by going cheque free for more than 10,000 customers.
Investing in people
More than her investment in future-proofing treasury as a function is her investment in people and talent. Her team spans more than 140 full-time professionals and another 900+ through Business Process Outsourcing. As the executive sponsor and leader of the Senior Women in Finance Team she invests in diversity, inclusion, and allyship beyond treasury and across more than 8,000 finance professionals worldwide. Her development of talent within her team has led to the personal growth of many from early in career to seasoned professionals who have continued to grow talent within treasury and across Microsoft. She has invested in the training of her team, completing 4,500+ learning courses to bolster their competencies and preparing for business challenges of the future including sustainability.
Anita sponsors talent to grow into new roles both within treasury and across Microsoft with more than 25% growth. Several of Anita’s leadership team have been recognised across the industry for their contributions and innovations, she is a leader who puts people first. By championing diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Anita is helping to create a more equitable and sustainable future for all.
Her advocacy extends beyond her team to Microsoft customers and partners as well through programmes she drives such as Microsoft’s Black Partner Growth Initiative which invests in majority black-owned businesses. This programme supports growing technology businesses with personalised guidance, support, and resources including go-to-market assets.
Anita’s leadership is focused on the US$50m partner fund that provides loans to support eligible partners through their startup phase, with the loan repaid over time as their business grows. Additionally, Microsoft provides over US$20m in payment solutions programme which offers eligible existing and new partners interest-free, flexible extended-payment terms on Microsoft invoices.
Anita believes that when opportunities are created, such that everyone can participate, the benefit is not just to the partner or Microsoft, but the world through the full ecosystem of technology solutions that are enabled.
In 2011, Anita was recognised as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Finance and, in 2014, was named Treasury Today Adam Smith Awards Woman of the Year.
Anita holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in economics from Pune University in India, and a master’s in business administration from Florida Institute of Technology. She received her doctorate in finance and international business from Temple University.
Here is what Microsoft’s Senior Leadership says about Anita:
Alice Jolla, CVP and Microsoft Chief Accounting Officer: “As Chief Accounting Officer, I have the opportunity to work with Anita as she leads a world-class treasury function at Microsoft. I admire her resilience as she makes financial decisions to optimise our portfolio and drive business results, while always striving to make others better. Her leadership of the women in finance group has not only directly impacted the success of females but helped to foster a more inclusive environment in the company through mentorship, allyship, and sponsorship.”
“Working for Anita is a privilege. She has high expectations and is deeply interested in the success of people in her organisation. Anita loves to problem solve and has a passion for questioning status quo; that is what I enjoy most about the culture she creates in GTFS and the energy I get from her leadership. Her growth mindset has no limits.” – Christina Easton, Sr. Director Global Cash & Operations.
“Anita’s superpower is seeing the potential in people. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Anita over many years. She is a trailblazer for treasury innovation and sets the bar high for the industry. One thing I appreciate most is Anita’s passion for people, diversity, and inclusion. She transforms teams by leading with an inclusive culture where people can do their best work. She supports career development and encourages her team to take on big challenges, helping them to achieve their aspirations and goals. A truly inspirational leader.” – Jayna Bundy, GM Financial Programmes.
“Working for her is a truly inspiring experience, where creativity and innovation are encouraged at every turn. She creates an atmosphere that empowers her team members to speak up and share their unique perspectives, knowing that their contributions are valued and respected. She is a remarkable leader who is committed to nurturing and developing talent, particularly among women. She understands the importance of diversity and inclusivity in the workplace and is dedicated to promoting opportunities for women to succeed and grow in their careers.” – Gladys Jin, Sr Director Centre of Excellence.
“I’ve had the privilege of working with and for Anita Mehra for several years. She is an amazing leader who drives positive change and is not afraid of challenging status quo for yourself and your team. She does so in a very inclusive way creating spaces for teams to do their best work. She is very authentic and leads with a great deal of empathy.” – Oystein Harsvik, GM GTF.
Partner banks contributions
We have also received several testimonials from the partner banks with which Microsoft has relationships. There are too many to quote all but some common themes emerge.
Anita has a visionary and strategic approach, she challenges the status quo, and is committed to empowerment, diversity, inclusion, and equity. Others emphasise her leadership qualities, people skills, high standards, and professionalism. She is also passionate about ESG and sustainability issues. She is held in very high regard by her peers outside the company and conducts herself with high integrity.
One relationship bank describes Anita as an advocate for innovation in the treasury and banking space. Another said she stands out as the epitome of a true strategic treasurer.
Anita exemplifies the qualities of leading from the front, driving innovation and continuous improvement and internal-external partnership building in all facets of managing her team.
Finally, Anita is an excellent judge of talent and expends considerable effort in building an outstanding and diverse team, supporting them with the necessary resources to be successful and holding them accountable for results.
Anita Mehra at Microsoft is a truly deserving recipient of our Special Recognition Award in 2023. Congratulations from us all at the Treasury Today Group.