The perfect combination
After gaining her degree in pharmacology, Cecilia went on to achieve a masters in banking and international finance. Following a placement year at GSK, she started her treasury career in the Noble Group, gaining experience of all aspects of the treasury function.
In 2012 she joined McKinsey & Company, the global management consulting firm, where she helped to set up its treasury in the Asia Pacific region, a role that she reprised at her next position at the biotech company Amgen. When Cecilia joined BeiGene in 2020 to head up its global treasury, its position as an innovative pharmaceutical company was a perfect match for her qualifications in both pharmacology and finance.
“It was like finding my true home,” she enthuses. “I have been able to leverage all my previous experiences to build a world class treasury and a first-rate team for the company. We have a global team of ten people covering North America, EMEA and APAC to match our company’s footprint. The team is mainly based in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Basel and New Jersey, which allows us to cover all regions seamlessly.”
Adapting to adversity
While she fully acknowledges the difficulties of the past two years, Cecilia is quick to point out the successes as well. “Of course there were times that the offices could not be accessed, and the team had to work remotely,” she recalls. “But we are in a much better position compared to other industries.” For one thing, being able to implement contingency procedures meant that the team knew how to seek assistance and information if required. “Leadership guidance is an important factor, ensuring that all resources are utilised so that we can achieve the same goals,” Cecilia adds.
Since the treasury team is based at various locations around the globe, work that needs to be done is not confined to the standard working day. “Collaboration and communication are key. When the team based in the Asia Pacific region finishes for the day, the team in the United States can continue the work during their daytime,” she says. “We can keep things moving by following the sun around the world.”
During the recent challenging times the company has not only been able to continue sales and delivery of its products, but has continued to move ahead at full speed. At the end of 2021 BeiGene completed its IPO on the Science and Technology Innovation Board (STAR Market) of the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The STAR Offering, one of the largest of the year, raised over RMB20bn (US$3.4bn) for the company. “In the latest quarter, our revenue is up 146% compared to the prior year,” notes Cecilia, “which is tremendous given the challenging environment.”
Meanwhile, the treasury team has had a number of other projects to work on. “We have set up two cash pools in China and opened over 70 bank accounts worldwide,” she reflects. “And that’s in addition to rolling out SAP host-to-host connectivity in all regions last year.”
On another note, Cecilia believes that BeiGene’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is second to none. “Our company has been doing extremely well in this area,” she says. “In April this year the company refreshed its comprehensive environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategy.” As part of the ESG strategy and framework, Change is the Cure, BeiGene has identified ‘Empowering Our People: Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and Colleague Engagement & Well-Being’ as one of five strategic priorities.
Noting that Julia Wang was appointed as the company’s global CFO last year, Cecilia says the business environment has never been friendlier towards women: “So many companies now offer coaching and career development programmes for women. I know of many women’s groups which meet regularly – these are all good opportunities for us to explore our career goals and get advice.”