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.”