How did you start out in treasury?
I was in the management development programme of the Dexter Corp oration in the US. The CFO asked me to move to Belgium and help the Assistant Treasurer open a Belgian Coordination Centre with a Treasury Centre to take care of the international side of treasury. I did not know what treasury was, but was happy to be back in Europe. It was exciting times, starting with a blank sheet of paper, we developed a fully-fledged international treasury centre.
What do you think has been a defining factor in your long standing and accomplished career?
That first experience was just incredible. For the first few months I was on my own in Brussels, and I had to understand what international treasury was, meet with our peers and bankers, understand what our businesses needed, and make a plan. It was an intense discovery phase – where I was trusted, I had to use my smarts, make proposals and just go for it. The trust in my thinking and doing abilities allowed me to blossom.
How can professionals wanting to advance up the career ladder stand out and get ahead?
Be curious, be current, meet other treasury professionals, go to treasury conferences and understand the latest developments. Take up all the learning possibilities you have and think outside the box, challenge the status quo – in other words, don’t sit still and wait, create your own opportunities! Trust yourself and earn the trust of others both internally and externally. You earn it by delivering, sticking to your promises, supporting the business and by being a collaborative partner.
What advice would you offer other women looking to succeed in this field?
Find a company with a culture that works for you, which uses your skills and allows you to develop. For my part, I always worked for American companies because I knew it fitted my personality better, that being a woman was typically not a limiting factor. I also chose to remain in Europe because I felt it was here I could have the most impact while having enough room for manoeuvre to do my thinking-outside-the-box. In other words, know what is important for you so you can better choose a company that will allow you to deploy your capabilities.
What’s the biggest lesson you learnt over the course of your career?
The importance of being trusted and empowered and its corollary, empower and trust your team and make them accountable.