Insight & Analysis

Treasury veteran Caroline Stockmann talks leadership and communication

Published: Nov 2023

Veteran treasury and finance leader Caroline Stockmann has joined TreasurySpring, the cash investment platform, as a non-executive director. She talks to Treasury Today about the importance of leadership and communication.

Person holding a bunch of multicoloured paper people in their hands, leadership concept

Caroline Stockmann hasn’t been short of board or C-suite offers since resigning as CEO of the Association of Corporate Treasurers after over six years leading the organisation. She recently decided to join fintech TreasurySpring, the cash investment platform, as a non-executive director in a compelling opportunity that will draw on her treasury, finance and leadership experience.

TreasurySpring now sits alongside her broad mix of public and private roles, voluntary commitments and passionate interests, including music and the arts. It makes for a standout portfolio. Notable roles include: External Member of the Bank of England’s SONIA Oversight Committee, and Chair of the SONIA Stakeholder Advisory Group; a Director of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama Trust; Treasurer of the CIPD, and of Oxfam International; and a Member of the Finance and Investment Committee of the Elton John AIDS Foundation.

Positions that reflect her extensive bank of experience and highlight the transferable skills of finance, one of the few professions, she says, that allows people to jump between sectors and industries. “I’ve always believed in being with multiple organisations; it helps with cross fertilisation of ideas, and it helps give back,” she says.

Stockmann explains she was particularly drawn to TreasurySpring (her part-time role equates to around 15 days a year – she’s not involved in daily operations but attends between three to four board meetings annually and will get involved in strategic projects) because of its product. Cash management and the ability to forecast is always front of mind for corporate treasury, and TreasurySpring provides certainty with fixed returns and fixed time horizons in a highly uncertain world. The platform also supports time-poor, frequently small, treasury teams around KYC. “For a treasurer, if you don’t know what your returns are it can get really challenging,” she says. “Treasurers have an extensive brief spanning regulation, investment, raising funds and managing FX risk, so to have a product where you can say these are my criteria and I know what I am going to get back, is a really nice solution.”

She says she was also drawn to TreasurySpring because of the tenacity of the founders who set up the company in the wake of the financial crisis. “There was a gap in the market; they saw what people needed and they went for it. Their platform provides a unique range of attractive risk-adjusted cash investment options, through a single KYC and onboarding. It is safe, and you know your returns as it’s fixed interest,” she continues.

The role will also play to her leadership experience, an area where she hopes to add real value and a corner of her expertise of which she is particularly proud, informed by leadership roles at the ACT and as a CFO across a range of industries and countries, as well as being a mentor and coach since her Unilever days, where she spent nine years in senior finance roles, internationally.

Her counsel focuses on supporting colleagues integrate efficiency, particularly by prioritising tasks, leading with authenticity and inspiring others. “I am good at coming up with suggestions, or phrasing things in a different way, to help leaders get their message across.”

Echoing the opinion of many other treasury leaders, Stockmann believes (backed by ACT research) the most important treasury skills are communication and the ability to manage relationships. “Sure, you need to know your stuff,” she says, in a nod to the need for specialist treasury/finance skills and IT prowess. “But the biggest barrier to progression at senior levels is communication and relationship skills which together count as strategic influencing skills.” Skills she has honed by channelling her performance skills and the ability to step onto a stage (literally and metaphorically) learnt early on as a musician. She adds that good leadership also requires encouraging others to broaden their horizons, and ensure they always understand the topics at hand.

Stockmann’s new remit will also play to her experience in governance, a role she expects to grow as the company expands. She describes good governance as a “critical friend” and prides herself on her honest, objective feedback. She is also experienced at bringing governance to bear and using her position on a board to successfully challenge behaviour. “If there is something that I don’t understand or if there is something potentially unethical going on, I will call it out. Integrity is hugely important,” she concludes.

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