Treasury Talent

The Future Treasurer: now is the time for action

Published: Jul 2020

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Treasury Today Group and State Street Global Advisors launched the first, virtual edition of their co-hosted Future Treasurer series of roundtable events. These events are an evolution of the work that the two companies have done together over the past three years focusing on female representation, inclusion and diversity. The Future Treasurer builds on that conversation and expands to include all aspects of future best practice in treasury. From ESG issues to future treasury skillsets, these community conversations will help us build a roadmap to the future of the industry.

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SSGA The future treasurer now is the time for action

Our community across the world is discovering what it means to work from home and communicate virtually. We are also observing the impact that the global pandemic will have on progress with inclusion, diversity and general ESG issues for corporations across the world.

Diversity is…

Coming from an academic background that included a History of Art BA, Kim Hochfeld, Managing Director and Global Head of Cash at State Street Global Advisors, moved across the world to start her role in finance. Her degree’s focus on creative thinking and independent analysis along with her academic and broad cultural experiences give her a fresh perspective and a collaborative leadership style.

Hochfeld today urges younger people to study a subject that is interesting to them and that they have a passion for. “Don’t study a subject because you feel you ought to; your route forward will be your enthusiasm for learning and ability to shine in whatever you do.”

Although initially focused on having a career on Wall Street, Lynda McGoey graduated into a year of hiring freezes. Challenging herself to deviate from the original plan, she took on a corporate treasury role and seized every opportunity it gave her to learn. Flexibility has been a key element in Lynda’s career approach and has helped lead her to her current role as Managing Director and Global Head of Trade Finance GE.

McGoey has worked on many innovative and pioneering treasury projects over the course of her years at GE. Speaking about what she had learnt whilst honing her future treasury skillsets on these projects, she stated “it’s important to go in with your eyes open.” Processes may be settled, she explained, but that doesn’t mean they cannot benefit from fresh thinking. The most junior person on the team can shine new light on old ways. Successful leadership, she explained, is about “acting with humility.” It’s a continuous lesson in listening and learning from diverse perspectives.

Exposure to as many different experiences as possible is part of Hochfeld’s modus operandi. She also echoed McGoey’s focus on humility. Working in a second language and operating in different cultures led to a considered and humble approach to communication and leadership. Her global roles have exposed different business cultures and practices, “I hope it’s made me more conscious of cultural and linguistic differences.” It’s vital, she added, to give people the space to contribute, in order to draw the best out of them; only this way will the strictures of group-think be removed.

Progress

Against a backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement gaining pace and impact across the globe, our panel and audience discussed support for this progress and highlighted the imperative need for inclusion to be a priority for all future business leaders. The conversation has widened to future corporate best practices which put inclusion and innovation at the forefront and proactively encourage equality.

Hochfeld discussed the changes she has seen to the diversity and inclusion movement over her career span. Her previous, early experience of chairing a women’s network at a bank, Hochfeld likened to a Sisyphean task. “Five years later, the same ideas and dialogue were only just gaining traction,” she noted. Despite the frustrations of such slow progress, the evolution of the conversation from both inside the industry and in society at large has been encouraging.

“Over the course of my career, I have definitely witnessed a shift,” explained McGoey. She shared the evolution of female representation for her from early days as one of the only women working in the then-male dominated trading space to today when both GE’s Treasurer and CFO are women. “But clearly the conversation must continue.”

As State Street Global Advisor’s CEO, Cyrus Taraporevala, declared their commitment to “investing responsibly to enable economic prosperity and social progress”, Hochfeld explained how State Street Global Advisors, as a major asset holder, uses its voting power to drive real change.

Wider view

This first, digitally delivered roundtable event saw virtual breakout rooms focused on the challenges faced by our group of corporate treasurers during the pandemic. They were also asked to consider the impact that they believe this may have on existing conversations around female representation and diversity and inclusion.

Between discussion sessions, the group was polled on the issues most important to them, the challenges they were facing and their future outlook. The overall picture was a strong consensus towards inclusive workplaces, strong representation across social groups and a radical workplace shift that will see a permanent reframing of remote working with increased adoption of technology.

The individuality of peoples’ situations will greatly affect their experiences. For many, the simple logistics of not commuting, for example, now enable more family time and domestic role-sharing. For other family households there may be an overwhelming barrage of demands. However, for single households, managing loneliness and staying positive and motivated may be much more challenging. However, managing the pressure of the domestic environment, both from a ‘house full’ and ‘house empty’ perspective, was acknowledged by others. The lack of balance at home and the psychological tension of not being able to leave your working environment is a challenge for many and should be recognised by leaders and co-workers.

Missing the casual interactions of the office was also brought up by one group. With the post-meeting chats that often build bridges having ceased, homeworking has forced teams to restructure and coordinate more personal catch up discussions to maintain team ties.

A topic raised by attendees was the sheer value of two-way communication, and their realisation over the past few months of its profound significance in our personal and professional lives. Working from home can diminish the communicative power of learning through proximity whereas informal chats and casual conversations can prove invaluable.

Of course, concluded McGoey, constant access to multiple sources of information is essential for rapid re-prioritisation, critical during the pandemic. Lynda McGoey, Kim Hochfeld and our community signing in from their homes across the New York City greater area helped to create a vision of a future roadmap. The map avoids herd mentality and focuses on expanding mindsets and skillsets. It involves intellectually curious, open minded and strategic treasurers who will thrive in the future of corporate finance.

 

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