Debra Todd, VP, Global Treasury Services at BP ended up in a treasury role quite by chance. She is now on her 13th job at BP in a career which spans 30 years. Her motto in life is to be brave. She was a panellist at our Women in Treasury Forum in London where she said: “You can do things you just couldn’t dream.”
VP, Global Treasury Services
Debra Todd has been with BP for 30 years. In her current role as Vice President (VP), Global Treasury Services, Debra is responsible for the central transaction processes, including the systems, cash forecasting and credit. She has also held other roles in Treasury within Banking Relations and Equity Operations. Outside of BP’s Treasury function, Debra has worked in Pensions and Finance for BP’s in-house trading activity and been Chief of Staff in Remediation Management in Chicago. Debra is a Chartered Accountant and is married with three children, who are nearly at the end of the education system.
How have you found the opportunities for career progression in treasury?
I originally trained as a Chartered Accountant and, after joining BP 30 years ago, I ended up in treasury quite by chance. I had worked alongside the treasury team in my early days at BP and when a role arose in the department, they asked whether I wanted to be considered for it. The job surpassed my expectations and I’ve been lucky enough since to work in a variety of treasury roles, as well as a number of other jobs in the group. I’m actually on job 13 of my BP career.
And what I have learnt along the way is that each role builds upon the preceding ones. Wherever you are, you are learning. Your colleagues are also gaining more understanding of where your strengths lie and how they can be used. Therefore – and this has been my experience – they will then be happy to propose other opportunities which use and build on those strengths. This type of collaboration, working with different people, people understanding my strengths and using them in a variety of ways, is what has allowed me to gain diverse experience across the group.
What more do you think treasurers – male or female – can do to make their voices heard within an organisation?
What’s important for treasurers, in order for their voices to be heard, is to ensure that what they describe or present is put in terms of what that project or request achieves for the organisation. This means relating all activity to what the business is doing and its strategy, and how what is proposed by the treasury will make the business stronger and more successful. That can be at both the group level, as well as at the micro level; when it is articulated and designed well, value can be delivered at each of these levels.
Do you see a day where we have equality in the workplace?
I definitely see that the position of women is growing within organisations. The treasury community has a large number of young women coming through – this was particularly evident at the Women in Treasury London Forum. The mixed demographic was brilliant. And the more women get exposed to treasury, just as to any other field, I think two things will happen. Firstly, women will feel evermore confident that they can step up, seeing others who have successfully done so, and, secondly, men will understand that.
If there was one tool that could help you in your role, what would it be?
Feedback – it’s the only way to know how we are doing both in the organisation and as individuals. Treasuries tend to be relatively small departments but they have extensive reach, affecting the whole organisation. Understanding treasury’s performance, what people expect and need from us, is the way to continually carry out operations in the best possible way.