In the early years of her career, Annemarie Moore worked in the back office at several international banking institutions, but always aspired to be one of the dealers or front office team. Taking on her first role as a treasurer at a merchant bank in the mid-1980s, the working environment in which Annemarie began her career was very different compared with the financial world today. “I think that was quite a big accomplishment,” she says. “Not only was I just one of only a handful of women globally in that role, I was also in my late 20s as well – so still relatively young.”
Her experience in banking, and particularly the understanding it gave her of how the ‘other side’ operates, is something Annemarie still finds useful in her current role. “I can relate to what the bank dealers are experiencing and accommodate and appreciate their difficulties, maybe in pricing certain sizes for instance. This understanding of how the other side works and their constraints has enabled me to put in place realistic procedures and policy.”
A step change
In December 2006, Annemarie joined Plan International, a global child rights organisation, heading up the group treasury function. At the time, the organisation was planning a restructuring of the function and looking for someone to drive that change. Of course, Annemarie did not hesitate when the opportunity to try something exciting and different presented itself. “I had wanted to work in a company in which there was an end product at the time. A physical end product, such as a can of baked beans, seemed to me a more tangible way of adding value to society. But what is more tangible than directly improving the lives of thousands of children?”
The work of a treasurer at a non-profit organisation is actually not at all dissimilar to the treasury in the corporate world, she explains. The risks to manage and methods are driven by company exposures, whether domestic or international, and size – regardless of whether the treasury is in a profit making or non-profit making organisation.
There is one small but notable difference, however, that appealed to her. “The breadth of currencies we manage here is huge,” she says. “We do have the same risks to manage and the scope of those risks is often larger owing to the number of countries we operate in. We are also mindful of our quasi fiduciary responsibility as the funds being managed and exchanged are donations. Preservation of value is paramount.”
She adds an example: “For instance, if installing a latrine under a sanitation programme costs about £10 and if we can achieve a saving of £3,000 by purchasing Tanzanian shilling from bank A versus bank B, then we in the treasury department think of it as 300 latrines and each cost saving being achieved improves lives for children.”
Diversity and equality
When Annemarie first undertook a senior role in treasury, the lack of women in the field was noticeable. “An early conference that I went to abroad in the late 1980s with international dealers staged a dinner for delegates and an alternate venue for spouses one evening. My husband found himself at a fashion show. He told me there were a handful of men amongst 500 or so female spouses.”
Whilst no longer that extreme, Annemarie still finds that women remain under-represented at conferences. “Maybe as I remarked earlier, the market deadlines and timezones do not lend themselves to flexible working and that discourages women.”
In her experience, opportunities to travel to conferences are often limited for professional women with young children. Annemarie has been lucky enough to have a supportive family, however. “My ex-husband is working in Dubai so my backup currently is my partner who is stepdad to my daughters, and my ex-husband’s wife, who works locally, also steps in when I need support. Having said that, my children are older now – with the eldest being an adult,” she adds.