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A Rising Star Winner: Gwendolyn Ng, Danone

Published: Feb 2023

 

Photo of Gwendolyn Ng, Danone.

Gwendolyn Ng

Treasury Manager – Asia Pacific & Middle East Team

Danone S.A. is a European multinational food-products corporation based in Paris and founded in Barcelona, Spain. It is listed on Euronext Paris where it is a component of the CAC 40 stock market index. Danone sells products in over 120 markets and had sales in 2021 of €24.28bn.

The markings of a seasoned professional

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Gwendolyn Ng joined the Danone Asia Pacific & Middle East (ASPAME) three-man treasury team in 2020, playing an instrumental role in their ambitious transformation to create a robust scalable system to manage the business growth in the region.

Within a short period, Gwen adapted to the organisational culture and priorities, demonstrating a willingness to lead initiatives and deliver targeted outcomes. Handling projects with all the markings of a seasoned professional – razor sharp planning and time management. These projects, while led by Gwen, were also dependent on other team members from Danone. Gwen was able to convince them of the larger vision to ensure the successful implementation.

Regional centralisation and standardisation of banking access management

With the support of banking partners, Gwen embarked on the centralisation of banking access management with the aim of standardising. All 12 countries’ e-banking across multiple banks were centralised out of Singapore which ultimately reduced the number of e-banking portals from over 20 to a single portal for each bank. Proper back office procedure was established to manage the authorities of over 250 users and 300 accounts in a compliant and efficient way in line with the group’s banking control policies. Since the banking accesses were managed centrally, it eliminated the maintenance efforts for the local countries which translated to 170 man-hours saved per year. There were also opportunities for savings by enrolling products on the regional e-banking profile.

Enhanced payment process

This was an initiative to streamline and standardise payment operations through Danone’s in-house bank. Gwen identified gaps in existing processes and coordinated with external consultants to eliminate slow and error-prone manual tasks with the help of technology. The team was able to improve operational efficiency and cut down payment processing time by 40%. More time previously spent on manual execution could be set aside for value-added tasks.

Gwen has demonstrated strong project management skills, effective stakeholder management, covering a complex set of parties across geographies, functions and roles, ability to create trust between local and regional project teams and the ability to take right decisions at the right time, emerging as a well-respected partner by all. She has a very proactive approach and is result-oriented, supporting local treasury teams in all aspects of treasury operations and processes. Gwen’s successful projects helped the regional team to become more resilient and agile, which has been vitally important during the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling us to be more responsive to actual challenges and bring value add to the company.

Zurab Abutidze, Regional Treasury Director, Danone

Cash management optimisation

A three-phased approach was adopted to improve the cash management in Indonesia. Under Phase 1, payment operations for 16 warehouses and 22 plant factories were streamlined by aggregating the funds from several locations to a centralised location. The flows were migrated from 33 accounts with a local bank to two accounts with a core bank. This improvement in account structure led to greater efficiencies such as lower bank commissions, reduced administrative and reporting efforts, increased visibility and control through the centralised regional profile and even reduced counterparty risk at company level. Through the migration, the team was able to revisit existing ways of working and develop a compliant payment creation method.

Phases 2 and 3 are ongoing efforts with the local treasury team to rationalise the collection accounts and automate the payment execution process.

Do more with less: innovation in treasury

While exploring new digital capabilities for the region, Gwen kept in mind the predominant aim to do more with less. She recognises the importance of utilising digital tools to ease the local treasury teams in their cash management and banking responsibilities. Below are some projects which were deployed regionally:

  • SWIFT KYC Registry.
  • SWIFT gpi.
  • Citi Payment Outlier Detection.

Gwen’s other notable accomplishments include implementation of the supply chain financing process in Singapore through close collaboration with procurement, payables and banking stakeholders and overseeing the move of operational activities in the region to the shared service centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Continuous improvement mindset

Gwen firmly believes in continuous learning and the value of knowledge sharing among treasury members to deliver results. She carries a continuous improvement mindset and is constantly seeking ways to add value to the company. Her fresh perspectives and ability to share her thoughts whilst securing support from her colleagues cutting across various divisions have added significant value to Danone. The company has improved operational visibility, control and standardisation with Gwen’s aptitude at work.

The Adam Smith Awards Asia is the industry benchmark for best practice and innovation in corporate treasury. The 2022 awards attracted a record-breaking 416 nominations. To find out more please visit treasurytoday.com/adam-smith-awards-asia

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