Insight & Analysis

Building treasury from scratch

Published: Oct 2017

As Isuzu’s very first treasury professional, Seng Ti Goh has a tremendous responsibility. However, he also has a wonderful opportunity to build a treasury department in his vision and play a key role to support the business as it pushes ahead with its international ambition. Here he talks about his first few months in the company and how he established the department.

“I joined the company at a fascinating juncture in its history,” says Seng Ti Goh, General Manager of Treasury & Accounting, Isuzu. “Isuzu has always been a leading Japanese brand and Japan is where much of the Group’s revenue came from. However, the international expansion that has taken place over the past decade has changed this completely and now two-thirds of revenue comes from outside of Japan.”

It is this international expansion, and the plethora of risks that it has created spanning FX, interest rates and more, that spurred Isuzu to hire a treasury professional. When approached about joining the company and filling the role, Seng Ti did not need long to decide. “Being given a blank canvas to work with – and a chance to make my mark on a company with the heritage of Isuzu – was a fantastic opportunity, and one that few would turn down.”

Bedding in

In his first few weeks with the company, Seng Ti admits that he spent most of this time understanding how the organisation functioned and the challenges it faced, as well as building relationships with key stakeholders.

“I had a good idea of what I wanted to do with the treasury department, but as the new guy in the company I couldn’t come in, be overbearing and make sweeping changes,” he says. “It would be naïve to push for changes without speaking to people and learning first-hand about the organisation.”

For Seng Ti, there were two important reasons for doing this. “Firstly, I wanted to build a rapport with key stakeholders and staff so that when I implemented changes that would impact how they worked they would understand why I was doing it and buy into the project,” he says.

“Secondly, any changes that are made will create a chain reaction that can sometimes lead to unexpected events. Given that I was new and didn’t have an intimate understanding of the global business, I wanted to learn about it from people that had been there for a long time to better predict that chain reaction and mitigate the risks arising from any unexpected events.”

Flagship project

This strategy paid dividends when Seng Ti was implementing one of the treasury department’s flagship projects: a multilateral, multi-currency netting solution.

“This was a project that had a big impact on the business units and how they operated,” he explains. “Yet, because I had taken the time to speak to the people in the business units and build a rapport, the level of resistance was much lower than I had expected.

As a result, I was able to get the project over the finish line, improving multiple processes and reducing costs significantly. It was a big win for treasury and showcased the value that treasury can add.”

Read more about Seng Ti’s time at Isuzu and the work he is doing to meet his objective of building a world class treasury department in the next edition of Treasury Today Asia.

Seng Ti also recently took part in our first Treasury Talks podcast.

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