Colleen Healy’s celebrated career in finance, now primarily manifest in independent board directorships but which included a 19 year-stint at Microsoft from 1995 to 2014 working across investor relations, intellectual property, and treasury and capital markets, is testimony to the pivotal role relationships play in career progression.
Sharing her most valuable career learnings at Treasury Today Group and Allspring Global Investments Future Treasurer event in Chicago, Colleen attributed colleague and peer relationships to elevating and fast-tracking her career. None more so than when she was at Microsoft, working alongside and learning from then Treasurer, George Zinn. She told attendees that George, fellow Future Treasurer speaker and currently President, TreasuryGo, encouraged her to stretch for roles and that his faith in her propelled her to new heights in the company. In keeping with so many mentor and mentee relationships, George countered how he also learnt a great deal from her – like her skilled approach to investor relations during the credit crisis.
Colleen and George’s lively and revealing discussion in the informal setting of Future Treasurer encapsulates the goal of the event which seeks to highlight the evolution of treasury, discuss career paths, and foster and highlight the skills that create treasury pioneers. For co-hosts Allspring Global Investments it is also an opportunity to bring portfolio management centre stage and elevate the importance of investment amongst treasury professionals. Jeffrey Weaver, Senior Portfolio Manager, Head of Global Liquidity Solutions at Allspring Global Investments who oversees a MMF portfolio of US$190bn alongside a US$20bn allocation to short duration fixed income drew on his own experience to highlight the importance of building relationships within a company to help hone understanding of the wider business. “Be inquisitive,” he said. “Getting involved comes to much more than just doing your job.”
Learn new skills
Speakers linked career success to building new skills and keeping up with changes in technology. “You have to keep retraining. I would get involved with AI,” George advised workshop attendees, illustrating the importance by referencing how one of his first skills (hand signalling on the trading floor) is now redundant. He counselled on the importance of attending in-house training sessions around new technology particularly. “It keeps you current and differentiates you over time.”
Panellists and delegates discussed how niche expertise can boost career success. However, speakers also advised on the importance of treasury employees not being “too narrow” and it is easier to broaden expertise early on in a career. “It’s difficult to go outside your comfort zone later in your career,” said George whose opportunity to broaden his skills came when he worked in IP at Microsoft, a role that positioned him for Treasurer a few years later. Colleen described how her role at Microsoft was similarly varied, including working in IP where she learnt how to approach target patents and negotiate deals.
Career progression involves a healthy dose of risk taking. Panellists urged attendees to be fearless when it comes to trying new things. Colleen encouraged delegates to be open about what they don’t know; filling the gaps in their knowledge by reaching out to their network.