Why is learning and adaptability so important to you?
Throughout my career, I have learnt many important lessons, not least to step out of my comfort zone in order to achieve greater things. I never want to miss an opportunity to learn. But I also acknowledge the importance of social interaction for knowledge progression, and recognise that treasurers must also now be socially adept.
Formally, I have a bachelor’s degree in Business and Finance from ICHEC Brussels Management School, and certification from European Federation of Financial Analysts but I also believe that discussing interests with peers at seminars and conferences is a great source of knowledge for anyone in this profession.
There is a real need today too, to grasp how disparate elements, such as regulation and technology, impact treasury’s response to business needs. We all work hard, but it’s important to know that what is taking most of our energy will actually add value to our corporate strategy.
There’s no use wasting resources on something nobody cares about, but our effort should not be focused on highly visible projects alone. It can be something for which you know no one will say thank you, but you also know it is an important step towards a greater achievement.
I’ve never let my ego drive career moves and have declined some opportunities that did not offer the chance to learn or progress. It’s important for me always to understand what value the role brings today and tomorrow.
You are an acknowledged technophile. Why is technology so important in treasury?
Keeping up with the right developments can be a challenge but there is no magic here; I just have a natural curiosity about technology in the treasury environment. But it’s important to understand firstly, there is no one technology that will resolve all of treasury’s issues. Secondly, for treasury purposes, every solution needs to demonstrate its value-add, and even then its adoption depends on where the company is on its technology journey. The most sophisticated technology solution can’t be effective unless you’ve done your homework to clean, manage and connect your data.
Perhaps one of the most talked about new technologies is AI, but it is not for everyone. My team doesn’t manage payments and collections, and we are not in charge of detailed cash forecasting, so I see fewer opportunities for AI at this stage. However, I certainly believe that for cash forecasting, AI could be a very powerful tool, with also strong potential in FX management.
The other mainstay of techy conversations right now is blockchain. On the bank side, especially in trade finance, I see strong possibilities. Honeywell is no stranger to the concept; we are already using a blockchain-based platform to manage multiple suppliers and sales of components of our aerospace division.
When we see a new technology, it’s important that we assess its advantages and disadvantages and find out precisely where it can help. For me, technology for the sake of it is a wrong direction; it must have a purpose, and that purpose must ultimately benefit the wider business.
Treasury is seen as an entry portal by many technology providers and I think we, as treasurers, must now be the catalyst for progress, giving options to other departments, trying to resolve their problems, breaking down silos and being ambassadors for a new approach.
The full interview can be read in the July/August edition of Treasury Today.