Women in Treasury

Diversity in action: Women in Treasury Asia Forum 2016

Published: Apr 2016

Dandelion silhoette in sunset

Last week, over 130 senior financial professionals gathered in Singapore to celebrate gender diversity at the annual Treasury Today Asia Women in Treasury Forum.

The Treasury Today Group is proud to be at the forefront of promoting gender diversity in the financial industry. Now in its fourth year, our Women in Treasury global initiative has received overwhelming support and now includes our annual global study, corporate and banking female profiles, social networks and forums held around the world.

This year’s Women in Treasury Asia Forum saw over 130 senior professionals, both male and female, from the world of corporate treasury and banking gathered in Singapore last Thursday to celebrate gender diversity.

Set in the luxury surrounding of The South Beach Hotel, guests came together to build relationships and to learn from women’s professional experiences. Headlining the day was a panel session featuring four high-profile women, all of whom have had fantastic careers.

An insightful discussion

The four highly respected speakers on our prestigious panel were:

  • Deepali Pendse, Head of Corporate Treasury Sales, Southeast Asia, Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
  • Vivian Peng, Asia Treasurer & VP of Treasury, Flex.
  • Lillian Sim, Head of MNC Regional Coverage & Sales, Singapore & Hong Kong, Global Corporate Bank, J.P. Morgan.
  • Pratibha Advani, CFO, Tata Communications.

Jaya Machet, Founder and Managing Director of Coaching Tiger and formerly Regional Treasurer for Asia Pacific at Nokia, expertly facilitated the debate.

As in previous years, the dynamic discussion was honest, lively and inspiring and many thoughtful views were offered on gender diversity across the region, the progress that is being made and what more needs to be done. Some of the areas that were explored in detail include:

  • Promoting gender equality.
  • How to build a diverse and talented team.
  • Career progression and how women can get ahead.
  • How to create a successful work/life balance.

The panel agreed that whilst the region has made progress regarding gender diversity, more can and still needs to be done. The view of the panel was that women have been fighting this themselves over the past decades and the corporate world, and indeed society more broadly, is only just catching up. We must all come together now to work towards removing unconscious bias and ensure that everybody has the platform to become successful.

Those on the panel were keen to point out that women can still do more to advance their careers. The point was raised that over the past few decades’ men have arguably been more ambitious than women in the workplace, but that this is beginning to change. The advice to those in the room was to not be afraid to stand-up and be visible, work hard and demonstrate what you can do as an individual and what you can offer to a team.

Feeding into this was some very interesting advice around how best to view your career. Your own career is your own responsibility and only you can decide where to go next. A career is not a short-term, but a long-term game. As a result, women (and men) need to be aware that there will be ups and down.

The overall message was that to really get ahead, women need to take full advantage of what they are doing and challenge themselves to push forward. When a milestone is achieved, take the time to celebrate that success.

Building a balance

Of course, sometimes when trying to push ahead in one’s career, life can get in the way. The topic of creating a successful work/life balance is therefore always popular at our forums – and this year was no different. A salient message was that life is about seeking personal fulfilment and that career progression alone cannot provide that fulfilment. The advice from the panel was therefore to stand up and ask for what you need to create this balance and obtain fulfilment.

Naturally, when discussing work/life balance the debate typically centres on those with dependent children. Yet there was also a clear call from the panel to ensure that companies begin to see this topic more holistically and to consider that whilst some may not have children, they may have other dependants such as ageing parents, for instance. In these cases flexible working should also be offered to assist.

Views from the floor

After the event Treasury Today Asia talked to some of those in attendance to hear their views on some of the areas that had been discussed.

For Joyce Wong, Senior Treasury Manager at PayPal it is obvious that even though much progress has been made there is still a long way to go before true diversity is reached. “There needs to be a big shift in mind-set especially around how corporates shape their equality, diversity and inclusion agenda in the company’s culture and values,” she said. “A lot of companies are seeing the importance of diversity and inclusion as the catalyst to change and drive improvement in business bottom lines, but the effort needs to be top down to see results.”

If this can be achieved, it was widely agreed that business would be better placed to succeed. As Jaime Lee, Regional Head, Treasury and Risk Management at Courts explains: “The best teams are always the ones where both men and women work together to achieve something that would otherwise be elusive for an all-male team or an all-female team.”

This view was seconded by Christopher Emslie, Country Treasurer Singapore at ABB and one of a number of men in attendance: “Women bring a new direction and a fresh perspective to the treasury organisation and it follows with the trend of the ever changing treasurer.”

We would like to thank all those who took part in, attended and supported our Women in Treasury Asia Forum and would like to invite all others in the industry who are interested in the initiative to get involved. Join our LinkedIn group, participate in the 2016 Women in Treasury Study and we hope to see you at our next forum in London on Thursday 15th September in London.

Women in Treasury: get involved!

The Treasury Today Group’s Women in Treasury initiative recognises the importance of women in the corporate treasury profession and creates a means for women in treasury to communicate with one another; learn from each other and network in order to help each other.

Whilst the treasury profession remains largely male-dominated, there are remarkable women enjoying remarkable careers. Our Women in Treasury initiative recognises female innovators in the corporate treasury profession.

Women need to be much more visible in their roles, both inside and outside of their organisation and this initiative aims to help bridge the gap. We frequently profile female trendsetters in Treasury Today Asia, looking at their professional development and career-defining moments, as well as providing advice to those just starting out in the profession. We also host a Women in Treasury LinkedIn group providing a dedicated platform for discussion, debate and support – to join this group please email sarah.arter@treasurytoday.com

For any enquiries in general regarding the Women in Treasury initiative in Asia please contact Sophie Jackson, Associate Publisher, Treasury Today Asia – sophie.jackson@treasurytoday.com

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