Although Alexandra focused on developing a deep understanding of treasury early on in her career, she says that she sometimes found herself saying yes to projects or initiatives that she was not sure that she could achieve. However, she has also come to understand that the most important thing is having confidence in her own abilities. “I loved my work in treasury and believed becoming a technical expert would make me a stronger treasurer in the future,” she says. “However, having had more experience, I have come to realise that you don’t need to have all of the answers to be a leader in treasury.”
In fact, she believes that having experience in other areas such as operations can help with gaining a greater understanding of the impact treasury can have on the rest of an organisation. Treasury should not exist in an ivory tower, but should maintain good communications and collaborate with stakeholders across the organisation.
“We can’t just assume that everyone understands what we do and why we do it, whether it’s hedging foreign exchange or handling intra-group loans in a certain way,” says Alexandra. “Treasury needs to explain the benefits of what it does and the reasons why, and how it brings a positive impact to the business. It also needs to understand why other departments do what they do. Because at the end of the day, it is the business that drives the value in the company.”
As a leader, Alexandra acknowledges the challenge of keeping the team fully engaged and motivated in a virtual environment. “You don’t have the opportunity to have an impromptu chat, share a coffee or go out and celebrate as a team. You have to work harder to on-board new members, to develop a sense of camaraderie and team spirit,” she explains.
However, for all the difficulties the past year has presented, Alexandra remains focused on helping the team stay motivated and engaged. “When I joined Nestlé, my team and I have developed a vision for the kind of treasury department that we want to be,” she says. “Last year we launched a number of initiatives and changes. It has taken a huge amount of effort and a lot of hard work, and now those labours are beginning to bear fruit. We are not there yet, but we are well on the way to becoming the strategic partner for the business that we envisioned from the beginning.”