Women in Treasury

Women in Treasury: Brooke Tilton, Paramount Global

Published: Mar 2023

This much I know

Paramount’s Brooke Tilton talks treasury operations and the importance of playing to our strengths.

Brooke Tilton

Vice President, Treasury Operations
Paramount Global logo

Brooke Tilton has over two decades of experience in Treasury. During her time at MTV Networks and later Viacom, she has been involved in credit and collections, global cash flow and capital expense planning, US cash management and treasury operations. In 2020 she became Vice President, Treasury Operations at Paramount Global when Viacom and CBS merged, overseeing the integration of US liquidity, treasury systems and bank account management for the two media companies. Her wide experience includes leading project teams in the design and implementation of TMS, implementing SWIFT connectivity and overseeing the roll out of new bank account management systems and processes. Brooke holds a bachelor’s in economics and Spanish from University of Pittsburgh.

Paramount Global is a leading global media, streaming and entertainment company that creates premium content and experiences for audiences worldwide. It is home to well-known brands like Nickelodeon, Paramount+, CBS and Paramount Pictures.

How did you start out in treasury?

My first job was in credit collections. The story goes that out of a whole group of candidates of which none where a direct fit with the job, I was chosen mostly because they liked my name! As it turned out, the role wasn’t for me either, but I got my foot in the door and I’ve now been with the company for 25 years.

After working in credit collections, I moved to cash management for one of our divisions, rising to run the cash management programme for MTV Networks, in addition to consolidating cash flow, capital expenses and managing cash application. In 2006, our company split (CBS and Viacom have since re-merged) and I landed in treasury at Viacom. I was presented with a good opportunity to lead Domestic Cash Management for Corporate Treasury.

In many ways my career has been shaped by my willingness to sit along for the ride, and it’s been a good one. I particularly love the management support I receive to originate and implement projects to make treasury more efficient.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

I really enjoy treasury operations. It comes down to figuring out puzzles and making things work and it’s a niche where I have really found my place. I would say my arrival in treasury was accidental. Unlike accounting, there is no college class for treasury, and I always avoided accounting anyway as I don’t particularly like numbers. Sure, there are lots of numbers in treasury, but the focus is on problem solving and accomplishing something rather than putting numbers together to tell a story, compile a data set or reconcile a bank account.

Effecting change is really important to me and in this role, I can make real changes that are visible. Rather than complaining something is wrong or not working, and being unable to do anything about it, I am empowered and supported by management to fix problems. I have been fortunate to work with people who believe in me. The ability to create efficiency while managing controls is unique to an operations team, payables and accounts receivables.

The ability to create efficiency while managing controls is unique to an operations team, payables and accounts receivables.

What has been one of your biggest challenges?

CBS and Viacom remerged in 2019 on the eve of the pandemic. Creating one solid and stable team from these two different businesses while working remotely has been one of my biggest challenges. I relied on colleagues at that time, and I was very fortunate to be surrounded by people who were committed to the success of the team. Now my priority is attaining more team integration and cross-team training. I lead a team of six and we recently chose a single word to focus on through this year: we chose attain. It means something different to everyone, for some it’s about attaining a better work-life balance to others it’s a new goal or skill. We’ve never done this before but if we had for the two previous years, I think the words would have been survive and transition!

Describe your style of team leadership

Key advice to my team includes staying open to new opportunities. I encourage them to do something, even if they are unsure. I did an internship at college in the financial sector which I didn’t particularly enjoy but I could walk away knowing that was something I wasn’t going to pursue. You can learn from the things that make you feel uncomfortable, and I encourage my team to step out of their comfort zone.

If I could have my time again, I would have taken people management classes early on in my career. Managing people has been one of my biggest challenges. It’s not something that comes naturally to me, and I think having support here, earlier in my career, would have helped me be a better manager although I am getting the hang of it now. The pandemic helped me focus on people a lot more. Before I was too focused on objectives, always thinking let’s do it, get it done, and go home. Now I’m more focused on people and am more understanding of how different people work and communicate. I have learnt to play to peoples’ strengths instead of asking people to do something they aren’t good at they could find difficult to do.

In many ways my career has been shaped by my willingness to sit along for the ride, and it’s been a good one. I particularly love the management support I receive to originate and implement projects to make treasury more efficient.

What is your motto?

I was in a conference once, where we were all talking about improving our weaknesses. It made me think that it’s much more important to double down on our strengths and the things that bring us satisfaction. I think as women our inner mean girl focuses too much on our weaknesses. We need to have the confidence to identify our strengths and lean into them. I also think it is important to see how your career develops. It’s not always necessary to have a plan or a linear progression. If you are going to go into business in any form, it’s good to leave yourself open to new experiences and stay flexible. There is a lot to see and do in treasury and it really is what you make of it.

The other thing I’ve learnt since the pandemic is the importance of seeing people face to face. What I’ve found is that you meet someone in person you’ve only known online, and their personalities tend to come out more. Connection really improves relationships.

I also believe in the importance of looking afresh at sticky problems or challenges with the benefits of a different perspective. Stepping away from something that is frustrating, or complex gives a different insight and you often come back fresh. It’s why work life balance is so important. Our work is always going to be here.

Representation could always be improved across the board, but my company focuses a lot on inclusion, hosting a yearly Inclusion Week and Global Community Day. It places a great deal of emphasis on getting women to the table and is something we talk about a lot. I hope my voice has been heard; I’m not a shrinking violet and I encourage others to be heard and feel comfortable speaking up. As long as we continue talking about it, we will make progress.

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