On 12th November, the Women in Treasury initiative came to Singapore’s stylish Fullerton Bay Hotel for an afternoon of shared insights and lively discussion around the topic of diversity and inclusion.
The event began with a welcome from David Fletcher, Head of APAC Cash Sales, Global Cash Business at State Street Global Advisors. David explained that Treasury Today’s Women in Treasury initiative is “closely aligned with what we do at State Street Global Advisors, and what we believe in terms of pushing the agenda for inclusion and diversity in the workplace.”
Next up was Sophie Jackson, Joint Publisher & Head of Strategic Content at the Treasury Today Group, with an explanation of the Women in Treasury initiative and the forums and discussions this has included over the last seven years. “The longer I spend studying the statistics that we’re seeing, the more I realise it’s individual stories that shape the conversation,” Sophie commented.
Introductions were followed by an intimate discussion with two inspirational speakers: Sarika Joshi, Director of Corporate Finance at ZALORA Group and Latifah Mohamed Yusof, Group Treasurer at Astro Malaysia Holdings Berhad.
Noting that “change has been the constant” during her career, Sarika described the different roles she has held and the experiences she has gained at companies including Nokia and Dell, before moving into her current role at ZALORA last year. Latifah spoke powerfully about her experiences of being considered a minority in both Singapore and Malaysia, adding that with Astro currently working to promote inclusion within the organisation, she consciously aims for diversity when hiring new staff.
The experts turned to the issue of ‘burnout’ and how to know when it’s time to take a step back. Sarika spoke about her experience of taking time out from her career to focus on some of the other things she wanted to achieve. After spending time travelling and developing her interests in filmmaking and photography, she realised that she missed her working life – and she has subsequently been able to integrate her other interests alongside her working life. Latifah, meanwhile, described her experience of working around the clock in a fast-paced environment, adding “I wished I could take a break, but I never did.”
The discussion also focused on the future of the workplace and the role that technology can play in addressing pain points, now and in the future. Sarika commented that treasury “used to be very siloed, but is now really part of the business.” She added that consumer-facing companies are focusing closely on how to harness big data in order to come up with better solutions.
After a coffee break, Sophie presented the findings of the newly published Treasury Today Women in Treasury Study 2019 – the seventh so far. She invited attendees to share their thoughts on some of the topics discussed in the study, from the importance of diversity and inclusion to the controversial topic of board quotas.
One female treasurer spoke positively about the diversity of the workplace in Singapore and the support that working mothers typically receive from employers. “There’s never been a better time than now to be a woman in the workforce,” she commented.
Another area of focus was the importance of mentoring for female treasury professionals. Earlier in the discussion Latifah, who was Highly Commended Woman of the Year at this year’s Adam Smith Awards Asia, dedicated this success to her mentors. “Without them, I don’t think I would be where I am today,” she said.
Noting that 70% of respondents to the 2019 study felt that mentoring, sponsorship or coaching was important for a successful career, Sophie invited participants to share their experiences of mentoring in the workplace. This sparked some interesting discussions around the pros and cons of formal and informal arrangements, as well as attendees’ experiences of reverse mentoring, whereby leaders are mentored by junior colleagues. Attendees also shared their thoughts on topics such as flexible working, parental leave and the importance of diversity within multinational organisations that connect to customers around the world.
Closing the event, David thanked attendees for participating, noting how valuable it had been to hear about individuals’ experiences and thoughts on the topic of diversity and inclusion within an informal setting.