The splendour of the City of London’s Plaisterers’ Hall played host once more to the deserved winners of categories new and old at this year’s Treasury Today Adam Smith Awards. Here’s how it looked on the day.
Just as the winners of this year’s Treasury Today Adam Smith Awards refuse to stand still, so the awards themselves are changing to reflect the dynamic nature of the profession. In a truly international event, celebrating a profession without borders seems appropriate.
In an occupation that keeps one eye on the future, and one on the here and now, looking out for opportunities and challenges makes for a rather dynamic environment. Treasury Today’s Adam Smith Awards takes pride in celebrating the reality of the ‘restless treasurer’, shaping this prestigious event in the likeness of its worthy recipients.
Amongst the now classic categories, such as Best Cash Management Solution and Best Working Capital Management Solution, winners stepped up in this, the 12th year of the awards, to receive accolades in several new categories. These included Best Fintech Solution, Best Cyber-Security Solution, Best Sustainable Finance Solution and Best in Class Treasury Solution in Latin America/Caribbean.
These awards are first and foremost a celebration of international cooperation and success. With 244 submissions from 30 different countries – from as far afield as Peru, Colombia, Canada, Ethiopia, the US, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria – it is clear that when it comes to achieving amazing results, borders are an irrelevance.
As Angela Berry, Founder and Director at Treasury Today Group remarked in her opening address, “The levels of co-creation and collaboration that we now observe as best practice are unprecedented.”
Winning an Adam Smith Award is not about being a big name, but being a big talent. The event consistently draws entrants from some of the world’s biggest organisations. But even with teams representing household names such as Microsoft, Honeywell, Harley-Davidson and Shell, intense competition comes from smaller organisations.
It’s not just about beating the competition (although that’s evidently very satisfying); it’s also about enriching the profession by sharing experiences with a peer group that, judging by the volume and flow of conversation at this year’s event, is only too happy to reciprocate.
It was the first time that Varun Wadhwa, Assistant Treasurer, Integration & Projects at Baker Hughes, a GE Company (Highly Commended Winner, Best Liquidity Management Solution) had attended the event. “It was good to meet treasurers from different companies and share experiences and success stories,” he said. Wadhwa’s colleague, Senior Liquidity Manager, Moda Abhisek, agreed. “It’s reassuring that the things we do are adding value and all the amazing things that treasurers are doing in different companies is very inspiring.”
We now form fluid teams that come together in workshops to look at the problems and solutions holistically. In the future, I see treasury as the organisation that will be the stewards of data and insight, and the glue that will bring all the other organisations together to drive strategic decision making.
Woman of the Year, Highly Commended Winner – Anita Bubna, Senior Director of Treasury, Flex
Proving it wasn’t just a Baker Hughes phenomenon, another first-timer, Gianluca Gubbini, Director, International Treasury, Viacom (Overall Winner, Best Working Capital Management Solution) said “it was great to meet and share ideas with a lot of my peers who are working on similar projects”.
There is of course value in treasury being able to demonstrate its successes to other parts of the business. This is not about bragging rights but about creating awareness of what treasury can do for other functions, and how the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Overall Winner of Best Trade Solution was GE, led by Lynda McGoey, Managing Director, Global Head of Trade Finance. She told us that aside from the award being “an absolute honour”, it serves to highlight the importance of the global trade finance team, “our work is not always as readily understood” as some more visible treasury activities. With the win having been “communicated and celebrated” throughout GE by the Senior VP of Treasury, she reported a sense of corporate pride.
For Royston Da Costa, Assistant Group Treasurer at Ferguson, it too was “a great privilege” to accept the inaugural award for Best Cyber-Security Solution on behalf of Ferguson. He added that it was “a great honour to be recognised for the work that has been put into this extremely important area in the midst of peers from companies that are setting the pace in treasury”.
Sharing new ground
Of course, every winner has something inspiring to offer. In 2019’s new Best Sustainable Finance Solution category, the winning team from Renewi, led by Group Treasurer Adam Richford, is taking the lead on what is a vital matter for us all.
Lauded for converting its main €550m banking facilities into a green loan using a green finance framework, it managed to link its loan rates to the ESG performance of the Group via five KPIs and a series of targets for each outstanding year.
“Winning this award gives us another reason to shout about sustainability, which is fundamentally what Renewi is all about,” said Richford. “Anything that adds to that corporate narrative is welcome. It’s also great recognition for a lot of hard work that will hopefully encourage other treasurers to follow this path.”
With sustainability gathering a huge ground-swell of support, it was a hard choice in this hotly contested category. Highly Commended Winner was Republic of Seychelles. Patrick Payet, Secretary of State for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, explained how the country went to the capital markets with a US$15m ten-year ‘Blue Bond’. With 100% of the proceeds earmarked for supporting the regional development of a sustainable marine economy, this a truly unique project of consequence.
“Seychelles is the first issuer of a Blue Bond; we are setting the example to the rest of the world,” commented Payet. “As a small island economy, we can develop our programme with other countries and they will see that if we can do it, so can they.”
Traditional categories continue to reveal imaginative approaches to treasury too. As leader of this year’s Highly Commended Winner, Top Treasury Team, James Kelly, Group Treasurer at Pearson, explained the scale of its ambition.
Within one year, it formed an in-house bank, including all internal funding, netting and FX management, launched SWIFT connectivity, designed a strategic FX policy, launched an innovative and effective hedging strategy, arranged the complete re-financing of its central RCF, and consolidated its banks. Oh, and the team also devised, created and launched the first ever sustainable lending facility linked to UN educational targets. As Kelly said, there has been “a lot of blood, sweat and tears” invested by the team throughout.
Winning this award gives us another reason to shout about sustainability, which is fundamentally what Renewi is all about. Anything that adds to that corporate narrative is welcome. It’s also great recognition for a lot of hard work that will hopefully encourage other treasurers to follow this path.
Best Sustainable Finance Solution, Overall Winner – Adam Richford, Group Treasurer, Renewi
This year’ Highly Commended Winner, Best Funding Solution accolade was collected by Ethiopian Airlines’ Group Treasurer, Temesgen Getaye. He told us that traditional and less-costly financing options were proving problematic. Having opted for a Japanese Operating Lease with Call Option, a first in West Africa, the airline was able to close deals on its original delivery dates. “We’re often so busy caught up in day-to-day life, it’s easy to forget to celebrate the successes that the team achieves,” he commented. “Winning this award, which is the highest accolade in the profession, means recognition for our hard work.”
Treasury Today has for many years committed to raising issues of equality. The Women in Treasury movement is complemented by the Adam Smith Awards Woman of the Year award. Catherine Portman, Head of Global Treasury at Uber and Overall Winner 2019, told us that this accolade is up there with her proudest achievements, helping her “validate all the work I have done throughout my career within treasury”.
As a female in this profession she noted that “it sometimes takes a bit more effort to make our voice heard and to show value beyond the traditional functions”. It is, she added, “important for female leaders to be able to express those ideas”. She hopes the award will “motivate and inspire others to think about how they can achieve greater recognition within their roles and companies”.
Anita Bubna, Senior Director of Treasury at Flex and this year’s Highly Commended Winner, Woman of the Year, believes in the power of co-operation. “We now form fluid teams that come together in workshops to look at the problems and solutions holistically. In the future, I see treasury as the organisation that will be the stewards of data and insight, and the glue that will bring all the other organisations together to drive strategic decision making.”
Indeed, Adam Smith Awards winners evidently care little for boundaries. Just as teams cross geographic borders to achieve success, so they cross functional, gender and any other restrictions that others may erect, ensuring they leverage insight and knowledge. And, as Richard Parkinson, Chair of Treasury Today Group said throughout this year’s presentation ceremony, “the results speak for themselves”.
The full set of case studies for 2019 are now available.
Read the 2019 case studies