Meredith Vance, Senior Vice President, Treasurer at NTT DATA Services, built a global treasury organisation almost from the ground up.
Meredith has over two decades of experience in treasury, including roles at PayPal, eBay and Royal Caribbean Cruises. In January 2017, she was appointed Senior Vice President, Treasurer at NTT DATA Services, a top ten global IT services provider. Heading up the treasury of a multibillion-dollar organisation with business operations in more than 50 countries and regions and over 30 currencies, her responsibilities include global cash management, global capital markets, and global insurance risk management.
I am the Senior Vice President, Treasurer at NTT DATA Services, a large global IT services organisation, based at the company’s North American headquarters in Plano, Texas. I’ve just celebrated my five-year anniversary at the company. When I joined, the company didn’t have a fully developed treasury department – I had the opportunity to come in and build the foundation needed to transform the organisation into a robust and world-class treasury to meet the business demands of a growing organisation.
Diversity and inclusion has moved beyond gender and race into deeper conversations and ways of thinking than previously. We’re now openly talking about the different thoughts, values, backgrounds and experiences that help create a diverse workplace and enhance employee morale and overall job satisfaction. As a result, we’re learning and appreciating how both our commonalities and differences come together and contribute to creating an inclusive environment – making it a priority, acting upon it and most importantly embracing it.
I would say it is important for junior professionals to begin embracing diversity now by understanding their own unconscious biases to help remove barriers. I would also encourage them to join employee resource groups that exist in their organisation – but at the same time, remember that while it might be important to meet people with similar interests who can support their growth, it is equally important to develop new relationships with those who do not appear like-minded. We have several employee resource groups that are all open to any team member, whether they are a part of the community the group represents, an ally, or simply interested in learning and supporting the group.
I believe that the more we can learn from each other, the more we appreciate different points of view. That can only enhance team collaboration, add to job satisfaction, and promote a more inclusive environment. My advice to junior professionals would be to get involved while they are starting out in their careers, so that they can be a part of that change now.
As a woman who has had her entire career in finance, I would say don’t let obstacles hold you back. Instead, navigate your way through them. There’s a workable solution if you want it badly enough. I’ve been a working mom for 16 years; I have twin daughters – it was never going to be easy to figure out!
It is also important to have a good support system, whether it’s your family and friends or a strong professional network, including a mentor. It’s good to talk to other people who have been there and who can help you. I certainly feel very privileged to be a mentor, both to people in the organisation and outside it. And always be confident in your abilities and promote your successes along the way.
‘There is nothing more constant than change.’ It applies not only to the business world but to your personal life, to life in general. That being the case, you need to embrace it. I like change – it’s something that I thrive on. I’m always asking, ‘What’s the next challenge?’
We’re learning and appreciating how both our commonalities and differences come together and contribute to creating an inclusive environment – making it a priority, acting upon it and most importantly embracing it.
Meredith considers herself extremely fortunate to have spent her working life in the world of treasury. Yet after gaining her MBA, she was uncertain which area of the financial world would interest her the most. “At the start of my career, we didn’t have LinkedIn,” she recalls, “nor any of the amazing online recruiting resources that we have today.”
Scouring the job section of the Sunday newspaper, she circled the opportunities in finance that she thought might suit her, and found an entry-level treasury analyst position for a large company in Dallas. After securing the role, Meredith quickly realised how much she loved both the treasury role itself, and the economic value that treasury drives for the organisation.
“From that point on, each step in my career became a thoughtful progression towards my objective of becoming a treasurer,” she says. “The desire to add a new tool to my toolbox would drive me to gain not only deeper expertise in all the various aspects of treasury, but also wider experience in a variety of different industries.”
As part of this progression, Meredith notes that sideways moves are sometimes important in a career. “I have made moves that weren’t necessarily an upward step in terms of title, but they presented opportunities to learn more about treasury and further enhance my leadership capabilities,” she notes. “It’s about evaluating each opportunity so that you can acquire skills to help you progress towards your goal.”
When Meredith joined NTT DATA in January 2017, she was able to use her extensive experience and knowledge to build a global treasury organisation, “almost from the ground up” – an exercise that has provided an opportunity to adopt highly efficient systems and processes. “In the past, just trying to understand our liquidity position around the world took a number of days,” says Meredith. “Now we can get that information in a matter of seconds.” Today, she says, her ‘small but mighty’ team has responsibilities including global cash management, financial risk management, investments, treasury M&A, and global insurance risk management.
When the pandemic struck, the team was three years into implementing initiatives designed to drive efficiencies and optimise the treasury infrastructure. “We were executing upon our global liquidity strategy and treasury technology solution at the time,” Meredith recalls. “Having those solutions and technology allows us to adapt to change more quickly and thrive in the new environment.”
In addition, she says, the past two years have acted as a catalyst for fundamental changes in the way operations are conducted: “Adapting quickly to change, learning to be creative and working out how to do things differently has been vital.”
A key change has been the requirement to work remotely. “For most of my career, treasury was thought to be a function that needed to operate from an office,” comments Meredith. “But with the pandemic, we learned that wasn’t the case at all.”
In practice, the transition to remote working was swift. “We’ve had to be extra diligent in communicating, because we’re not physically seeing each other every day,” she says. “We make sure that we maintain connectivity with the team as well as with our internal business partners – whether it’s frequent 1:1 meetings, a weekly all-hands treasury team meeting, monthly Zoom call with our tax team to share knowledge or a quarterly touch-base with internal business sales teams.”
Two years on, the team is still working fully remotely. “I’m not sure when – or if – that will change,” says Meredith. “We might go to a hybrid model eventually, but I don’t think we’ll all be completely in-person again any time soon.”
Reflecting on why her department has been so successful, Meredith acknowledges the importance of having the right team chemistry, skillsets and vision. “We are a small team compared to the revenue that the company generates,” she explains. “But we are folks who have high respect for each other and our experiences. We share knowledge and different ideas and collaborate really well together towards our vision. It’s because we are able to leverage this amazing cohesion and talent, along with key support from leadership, that we have been able to make our vision a reality.”