Photo of Tricia Ho-Hudson, Woolworths Group Limited.
Sydney-based Tricia Ho-Hudson, Group Treasurer at grocery and everyday needs chain Woolworths Group, has overseen the company’s treasury strategy and operations across Australia, New Zealand and Asia since 2017. Her team is responsible for managing the global cash and funding position of the company alongside all interest rate, currency and insurance risk. She also oversees employees’ compensation and public liability provisioning and leads Woolworths’ balance sheet strategy; her team also executes all equity and debt-raising transactions for the group.
Ho-Hudson is the first woman treasurer of the group, and the first woman treasurer of an ASX10 corporate, following Lyn Cobley, the first woman treasurer of an Australian bank, and Anglo-Australian giant BHP’s Vandita Pant, who is based in Singapore.
Ho-Hudson’s rich and varied 25-year career began in law. She subsequently moved across to banking from which she moved again to treasury where she has worked for the last decade. She joined Woolworths from Commonwealth Bank of Australia where she headed up the treasury department’s capital and regulatory strategy team in a seven-year role. Her team managed the capital on the bank’s balance sheet valued at over AU$62bn including financial management, risk management and all corporate governance of that part of the balance sheet. Earlier, she worked at UBS, running the hybrid capital division for Asia Pacific. She holds two bachelor degrees, two masters degrees, and completed the Stonier Graduate Diploma in Banking at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Ho-Hudson’s career highlights at Woolworths include being a member of the team behind the retailer’s first green bond. Woolworths became the first retailer in Australia, and the first supermarket globally, to issue green bonds certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative (CBI) in 2019. Part of her role involved working co-operatively with the CBI to set the low-carbon buildings criteria for supermarkets. The AU$400m transaction included answering detailed investor questions about Woolworths’ green credentials and ESG principles, and helped create a catalyst amongst other corporates. Going forward she hopes to work more on promoting standards around green corporate issuance in the Asia-Pacific market.
A few months after Woolworths’ green bond debut, Ho-Hudson oversaw the group’s AU$1.7bn off-market buy-back in May 2019, returning proceeds from the sale of its petrol business back to shareholders. She is enthusiastic about embracing positive technological change and since she joined Woolworths, her focus has been on modernising the company’s treasury function, including introducing the use of technology and new ways of working.
Leadership is an important part of Ho-Hudson’s role. At the Commonwealth Bank, her experience included addressing Asia-Pacific bank regulators on behalf of the Financial Stability Board where she spoke on the implementation of Basel III after the financial crisis. She is a member of Woolworths’ finance leadership team, and sits on the company’s Organic Growth Fund investment committee. As part of the company’s commitment to a greener future, it partners with conventional and organic fruit and vegetable growers to help either start their journey to organic farming, or grow existing organic production.
Ho-Hudson is also a strong supporter of women coming through treasury ranks, and has a keen interest in coaching and mentoring women for professional success at various levels. She offers one-on-one mentoring, and regularly speaks about her own career and experiences, particularly via Lean-In Circles for both women and men. One of the Circles comprises a number of Australian treasurers, investors, bankers and lawyers and has been meeting every month for the last five years. Over this time, the group has offered its members support across various work situations, including helping younger women achieve promotions. In 2019, Ho-Hudson helped sponsor a new Circle called Lean In Next Gen, putting 15 young women and men together to form a new Circle.
This group meets within its own Circle but has the support of a senior member overseeing its progress. In 2019, Ho Hudson facilitated introductory sessions to deepen the bond and relationships between the senior and younger Circles.
On a personal note, when she was working at the Commonwealth Bank she speaks about one of the most rewarding experiences being the supportive role she played in helping a team member return to a senior role after cancer. “I was quite ill when I began working for Tricia and needed considerable time off work. The support shown to me during this time was very comforting and this provided me with the motivation to return to the workplace. I very much appreciated her giving priority to my wellbeing which allowed me to transition back to full time work. I believe the care and concern I received was key to my return to normal life,” says Jevan Maciel, Executive Manager, Capital & Regulatory Strategy, Group Treasury, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, at the time where he was responsible for leading the Group’s technical advice area in relation to regulatory capital. When Jevan returned to full-time work, he led a project to establish the calculation of internationally comparable capital ratios for the Australian banking industry, and the importance of the project was reflected in subsequent endorsement by the Australian banking regulator.
Ho-Hudson is a single parent who, while meeting the demands of professional life, has never missed an important moment in her 13 year old son’s life; and is a keen marathon runner. She is also a founding Director of Mary’s House, a refuge for women and children escaping domestic violence. It is the only refuge in Sydney wholly privately funded by finance firms, other Australian corporates and individuals.
I hope that the Woman of the Year award encourages more women to think about treasury as a career and to persist in treasury if they are mid-career and making decisions about next steps in their lives. There haven’t been a lot of role models, but hopefully there are now enough to prove that women can manage treasury teams with large risk positions, teams of traders, and during key periods such as the Global Finance Crisis and COVID.