Woman of the Year EMEA Winner: Kemi Bolarin, GXO Logistics, Inc.

Published: Jul 2023

Kemi Bolarin

Head of Treasury – Europe

GXO Logistics, Inc. is a global pure-play contract logistics and supply chain management company known for its expertise in providing advanced logistics solutions and services to a wide range of industries worldwide.

Lessons in leadership

Kemi Bolarin is Head of Treasury – Europe, at GXO Logistics, Inc., and Treasury Today’s 2023 Woman of the Year EMEA overall winner. Based in London, Kemi has led Europe treasury for the US headquartered global contract logistics company that manages outsourced logistics and warehousing since July 2021.

The Woman of the Year award is given to those who elevate the value of treasury and are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion both inside and outside of their organisations. Kemi’s leadership outside of her role in treasury particularly caught our judges’ attention.

Kemi is Treasurer Trustee and Dean for Career Nuggets Academy, a social enterprise & career support hub based in London. The Academy’s mission is to develop workplace excellence to educate, inspire and empower people in the workplace via workshops, seminars, and a career club.

The academy is particularly dedicated to nurturing aspiring underrepresented talent who are striving for excellence in their careers. Together with her academy colleagues, Kemi has successfully cultivated a thriving community within the academy, where individuals discover the transformative power of soft skills to unlock their potential. Important milestones include launching the academy’s ground-breaking eight-week workplace excellence leadership programme and obtaining the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) accreditation of the leadership programme.

Since 2015, Kemi has also been a volunteer and mentor for Inspiring the Future organisation. Through her involvement, Kemi supports and inspires young girls and boys to dream bigger, strive for better and cultivate motivation. Kemi uses her skills to help dismantle societal barriers, challenge gender and social stereotypes, and help young people to broaden their horizons and dream big.

Kemi believes that every state-educated young person in the UK, whatever their circumstances, should have the opportunity to hear first-hand about job opportunities and the world of work. A young person’s background should not determine their chances of getting access to these opportunities. From app designers, to zoologists, apprentices, and other finance leaders at multinationals, she is one of the many volunteers who give their time to share their career story with local schools.

Treasury experience

Kemi has over 25 years of treasury experience since beginning her career in the late 90s as a Treasury and Insurance Analyst at Heckett Multiserve Plc. She went on to work for treasury teams at organisations like Southern Pacific Mortgage Limited, Delta Plc & Travelport. She has held numerous leadership positions and managed cross-functional teams to lead transformational projects to streamline business processes, improve financial performance and enhance engagement.

In her current role, she has been responsible for building out GXO’s Europe treasury function after the spin-off of GXO Logistics Inc from XPO Logistics, Inc. (a global transportation and logistics company). Her responsibilities have included defining treasury’s scope, role and responsibilities; developing strategic objectives for cash management, risk management and liquidity planning; team building and implementing policies and procedures.

Despite challenges such as limited resources and tight deadlines, GXO’s new treasury function was implemented within six months and proved highly effective and efficient. Kemi has also recently led a banking transformation project that implemented a cash management structure comprising an in-house bank, a multi-currency notional pool and an intercompany netting solution.

Being nominated for and winning this prestigious award is both an honour and a privilege. It is a humbling and empowering experience that further fuels my dedication to championing diversity and inclusion throughout my career. This achievement motivates me to push boundaries, challenge norms, and strive for excellence in all that I do. Beyond the personal validation it brings, winning Treasury Today’s Woman of the Year award provides a unique opportunity to continue to serve as a role model and an inspiration for aspiring professionals, especially women, within the treasury field. I am committed to leveraging this platform to empower others, sharing my knowledge and experiences, and actively fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment within our industry.

“Our experience working with Kemi has been very positive,” reflects Tom Huntingford, Managing Director, Working Capital Structuring at Demica. “Her results-oriented approach consistently helps us deliver remarkable results, helping us address GXO’s requirements with creativity and to a high standard. Her commitment to fostering a true partnership is evident in her collaborative nature and focus on the programme’s success. We are grateful for her open mindset to help us tackle new issues in a straightforward way.”

Kemi has a passion for technology and is building her team with individuals who possess the ability to think creatively and leverage technology to take GXO’s treasury operations to the digital age. Within the organisation, Kemi has earned a reputation for her talent in inspiring, motivating, and empowering individuals. Through fostering meaningful connections, she has proven the significant value that women bring to any organisation.

As a British-Nigerian woman in the workplace, Kemi understands the struggle many corporations face as they seek to address issues of diversity, inclusion and gender equality, and the lack of representation at senior levels. Within treasury, Kemi has a reputation for inspiration, dedicated to building representation and visibility across the workplace. With her determined spirit, she uplifts others and breaks down barriers, fostering diversity and inclusion in the workplace. She has a reputation for leading by example, igniting change and inspiring us to embrace collaboration.

“Kemi is a true leader and role model to follow. She takes ownership of her processes and taught me how to navigate with leadership in a culturally different organisation. Her guidance on navigating the US leadership team proved invaluable for my personal development.” says Olga Calvo, Head of Tax Reporting and Accounting, Sandoz.

Kemi’s commitment to equity and inclusion coupled with her ability to lead and inspire make her a worthy overall winner of our 2023 Woman of the Year Award EMEA. We look forward to seeing what she does next in her inspiring career and life!

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