Treasury Talent

Rising Stars Roundtable

Published: Aug 2021

The Adam Smith Awards is the industry benchmark for excellence in treasury. Every year phenomenal teams and individuals are recognised within the programme. We are now leveraging talent from the various years of the Adam Smith Awards global programme and bringing them together for focused roundtables around their winning categories and thematics. The first in our alumni series focused on our rising stars from across the world, who speak about their career journeys and aspirations.

Screenshot from the Rising Star Roundtable video

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The Rising Star award is one of our individual awards and is a special recognition of those who are early on or new to their career in treasury and who are making real strides and an impression on the industry as a whole. Previous winners have gone on to enjoy tremendous careers with a variety of different paths taken. We were lucky enough to be joined in April for our Rising Stars Roundtable by:

  • Adam Smith Awards 2020 Rising Star, Tian Song of Baker Hughes
  • Adam Smith Awards Asia 2020 Rising Star, Pulat Yunusmetov of Danone
  • Adam Smith Awards 2019 winner Gino Gude of Honeywell
  • Adam Smith Awards Asia 2019 winner, Jason Weiguang Han, ex treasury at General Electric who has now moved to a Banking, Finance and Fintech Industry career consultant role at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

Gino Gude joined the conversation having been recently promoted from Senior Treasury Analyst to Treasury Manager at Honeywell. Pulat Yunusmetov is Regional Treasury Manager for Danone in ASAPME & GC. Tian Song is leading Strategic Treasury Projects at Baker Hughes in London and Jason Han, who has 15 years in the industry working across corporates and banks and who was most recently at Michelin and General Electric before moving across to a role at Nanyang Technological University.

Sophie Jackson, Treasury Today Group’s Publisher & Head of Strategic Content, was delighted to moderate our discussion on the day. The conversation focused firstly on what winning a Rising Star award means, why recognising talent is important, the value of mentoring and coaching and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for the rising stars and their organisations.

When asked what had been helpful for his development, Pulat shared the following, “Support from seniors is so important. Senior management have supported projects of automation and digitisation. Mentorship is also quite important to recognise the talent within the company. Winning the award helped even just internally. This is how our higher management in Danone can assess the success through the awards.”

Tian shared some of her insights around talent recognition, “Each company’s internal rewarding programmes form an important part of talent recognition. It helps to boost near-term career development and incentive talents to work harder. The Rising Star award offers an external perspective, which helps us to build brand and obtain recognition from the industry. It’s a great scheme to support longer term career development in the treasury space.”

Gino shared his take on the importance of the award for him, “When I joined Honeywell, Marie-Astrid Dubois and Séverine Le Blévennec and the team were very committed to winning awards and to being able to showcase our successes to the US. From my perspective, applying for an award and winning motivates me to work harder. On a daily basis you don’t always get recognition or thanks, but when they see globally that you are being recognised that matters.”

Jason Han spoke about mentorship and senior inspirations that have helped him. “I have been invited to university events in Singapore. The industry partners and friends are so willing to share. There is such a lot of industry support for mentorship and nurturing talent in APAC and in the treasury industry.”

On the importance of being part of a broader treasury community, Jason shared the following, “‘In terms of community support we have one basket that would be treasury. Treasury professionals getting together. Then there is the basket of banking, fintechs and start-ups. Both communities are happy to share information and support. It’s important to be connected to different communities now. In my role, I hope to bring across that passion for finance and treasury to the student community and connect that with the other communities to support.”

When it comes to their plans for the future, within the next five years Pulat would like to move into commercial finance. That is his mid- to long-term plan but in the short term “there is so much to be done within treasury. The skillset that treasury offers is immense, cash is king and treasury rules that!’ As Gino says of the skillsets developed and the support offered within treasury, “Treasury is no longer such a niche industry. In France there are now three universities offering a Masters in Treasury. I was a member of the French ACT and they are pretty big. If you reach out to other treasurers and ask them how they solved certain problems they will normally help. The industry is normally not secretive.”

Tian spoke of the beginning of her career at General Electric within its finance graduate programme, doing rotations. This is where she started in treasury with the GE China Treasury team. After two years on the graduate programme and moving to GE’s executive development programme, Tian became part of the global GE corporation, helping the company to go through its finance transformation. “This allowed me to learn different elements of treasury, both from a country level in China and at the GE corporate level, to understand how treasury is connected to broader finance processes and business operations. Treasury was the place I wanted to go and then I joined Baker Hughes as it separated from GE and set up its own standalone treasury team.”

Overall, beyond their technical skills, as Pulat says “We should not forget our soft skills and on developing them, focusing on leadership and storytelling. These skills should be being developed by any professional that wants to succeed.” Pulat then added, “As Gino and Tian have both touched on, a lot of times you learn from the different stakeholders that you work with and your bankers, accountants and controllers, and by taking more responsibilities outside of your job description you can be exposed to a range of skills.”

The buzzwords of the moment for our attendees were ESG, understanding green bonds and green products. The second were diversity, equity and inclusion and the efforts that companies are putting in. As Gino said, “I hope this is not just because this is fashionable. Now at Honeywell we have a working group and when we open a new position, we have to have a diverse slate of candidates and of interviewers.”

Focusing on issues that our Rising Stars found inspiring, and exploring things that they are passionate about, were clear trends. We look forward to seeing where they go next!

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