Treasury and finance professionals come together in New York to celebrate and champion diversity at the first US installation of the Treasury Today Women in Treasury Forum.
On Thursday 6th
October 2016 over 130 senior financial professionals from across the US gathered in Midtown, Manhattan to celebrate diversity in the corporate treasury community at the inaugural US Treasury Today Women in Treasury Forum.
The Women in Treasury Forum was held at the sharp Intercontinental Barclay in the heart of Midtown. Featuring a superb line-up of industry leaders, our panellists were:
Anita Prasad, Treasurer, Microsoft.
Maeve Robinson, Assistant Treasurer, Omnicom Group.
Diane S. Reyes, Group General Manager, Global Head of Global Liquidity and Cash Management, HSBC.
Diane Schumaker-Krieg, Managing Director, Global Head of Research, Economics and Strategy, Wells Fargo.
The panel discussion was facilitated by Sophie Jackson, Associate Group Publisher at Treasury Today. The panellists shared valuable and personal insight on issues affecting many women and men working in our industry, whilst also offering decisive tips and practical advice for those in attendance.
Speaking about the success of this year’s panel, Sophie Jackson said, “It was an honour to be involved with bringing our Women in Treasury Forum to the US for the first time. Moderating such an accomplished panel from different industry sectors was a real privilege and we look forward to further developing our US platform.”
The discussion, defined by the open and honest views of the speakers, offered many thoughtful insights into gender diversity in the US and globally, the progress that is being made and what more needs to be done. The varied and complementary backgrounds and professional achievements of the four women on stage inspired a broad spectrum of ideas and experiences which were shared with the audience.
Raise your profile
Diane Reyes was the first to speak taking the topic, ‘Career progression – how to get ahead’. Reyes offered some very useful, practical advice centred around the following five tips; The first was know your elevator pitch: Reyes stated that you must always be prepared to highlight your milestones and capitalise on opportunities to raise the profile of your accomplishments. If you’re in an elevator or walking down the hall and you run into your CEO or other senior stakeholders, you don’t want to make small talk about the weather. Use this short time to talk about what you’ve done for them or for their business. Give tangible examples of key achievements or ideas you want to be known for are important to share. Reyes explained that traditionally men tend to be very good at this, and women aren’t as comfortable, but developing your brand is important and women need to be thoughtful about how they convey theirs.
The second tip was around adapting your style to your recipient/manager: during your career, your managers will have different styles. We need to understand how our manager likes to receive information and how they are going to digest it. We need to adapt our message to the receiver’s preferred style of taking in information. If we don’t, our message could be lost in translation.
The third tip was Reyes’ 48 hour rule: when something happens in a meeting or during an interaction that bothers you, don’t stew on it or let it ruminate for more than 48 hours. Allow yourself 48 hours to digest and reflect, and then put it in a box and let it go. Many women have an emotional response to challenges and let feelings linger. Holding on to negative feelings can hurt your performance, rating and future development. The fourth tip was that women need to learn to take risks: women are less likely to apply for a job unless they are 100% qualified. Often, women need to be pushed to put themselves forward. But, if you don’t apply, you’ll never get the job. And even if you don’t get the job, applying can still have a positive effect on your career, as you and your capabilities become better known.
Reyes’ final tip was that as you become more senior, what is expected of you changes: the more senior you become, with each new role, your professional journey resets and you begin again. What is expected of you also changes, and you may be evaluated more on what you do for others, ie driving profile to your business, helping others achieve, growing the calibre and skills of your team, focusing on group goals versus your own personal goals.
Speaking after the event, Reyes said, “It was an honour to be a panellist in this forum and to connect with so many talented women from the corporate treasury profession. One of my professional commitments is to helping build the next generation of female leaders, both within HSBC and the wider industry. Events like this not only recognise the importance of women in this space, but they provide an opportunity to inspire each other to overcome challenges and achieve goals.”
The conversation then moved on to moments in one’s career where taking a contrarian position or not being afraid to speak out can be of benefit. The panellists discussed times when they have had to overcome different obstacles in their careers and gave advice for those having trouble getting the recognition and the roles that they deserve.
Anita Prasad of Microsoft was the second to speak, taking the topic of ‘Come together – bringing on board male allies’, speaking about her experiences with different bosses and men who have supported and enabled her career to date. Moving beyond thinking of enabling diversity as an area that should only concern women, other panellists shared their own experiences around mentorship and the ways in which male allies can help to support women and gender equality.
Maeve Robinson of Omnicom was the third to present, focusing on the topic of ‘Building a talented team; how to get the best mix’. Maeve spoke around what a good mixture can look like in a team and that a plurality of age, experience, ethnic and cultural background and so on can all influence that great mix, beyond just looking at gender as a marker of diversity. Interestingly Maeve gave a poll of the room to see how many people thought of themselves as ‘emotionally intelligent’ and then again to see how many people had ever listed that as an attribute when applying for a job. Although the overwhelming majority of the men and women in the room would describe themselves as ‘emotionally intelligent’ it wasn’t something that anybody had ever thought to describe themselves as when applying for a job or writing their CV.
Crystal ball gazing
Finally Diane Schumaker-Krieg spoke around the topic of ‘Crystal ball gazing: looking ahead’. Schumaker-Krieg explained that in ten years from now she believes that gender roles will be redefined, particularly with respect to caregiving. With growing numbers of women out-achieving men, we’ll see more female breadwinners and more stay-at-home dads (Wall Street mothers, stay-home fathers). The stigma for stay at home dads will gradually diminish and the next generation of men will be far more comfortable with women in leadership positions.
Instead of promoting women’s advancement, we’ll be talking about a nascent “save the males” movement. She talked about having seen a significant shift in participation in what had historically been “women’s programmes” in recent years. As recently as five years ago, the keynote speeches she gave to corporations regarding career advancement were attended exclusively by women. Now a significant number of men, including senior executives, routinely participate in these forums. The participation of men in these programmes and their attendance at womens’ events communicate its importance to the rest of the organisation.
Speaking after the event, Diane Schumaker-Krieg said, “I see two major trends on the horizon. First, the next phase in the women’s movement may ironically be a men’s movement! Gender roles will be redefined – particularly with respect to caregiving. The second major trend I foresee is senior women doing more to help other women as more of us move into C-Suite roles. As I peer into my crystal ball, I see the words: “Don’t be a queen bee and pull the ladder up behind you. Reinvest your success!”
An inspiring day
A very enthusiastic and lively question and answer session followed the panel discussion, with many questions from the floor and valuable insights, experiences and opinions shared. Hearing about the paths these highly successful women had taken and the challenges they had encountered and overcome was truly inspiring. Overall the message was clear: we must work together, women and men, to conquer our unconscious bias and to drive diversity in our teams and companies.
Christy Barwick, Treasurer of Intellectual Ventures, shared the following insights on her experience after attending the Women in Treasury Forum in New York, “I was truly impressed and inspired after hearing the panel’s rich experiences, business insights, and perspectives as accomplished females in treasury and finance. Diane Reyes’ perspective on ‘letting go’ of a difficult experience by way of a virtual letter really resonated, as I think it’s particularly difficult for women to do this both personally and professionally.”
Speaking around the idea of advice to other women in the industry, Barwick said, “My advice to women would be this, ‘No one will advocate on behalf of you and your career better than you! Don’t be afraid to ask for what you think you deserve, just be prepared to support it with facts and data, particularly if you are a finance professional. Initiatives like Treasury Today’s Women in Treasury Forum are extremely valuable for women across all career spectrums. It allows women who are early in their career to learn from more seasoned women veterans, it allows the more experienced women to pass along their rich business insights and perspective, and it’s a wonderful networking opportunity for all!”
Commenting about the Women in Treasury initiative and the success of this, most recent, event, Meg Coates, Associate Publisher EMEA and Americas, Treasury Today said: “It is fantastic to be able to bring our pioneering Women in Treasury programme to the US for the first time. We are overwhelmed with the positive response from the corporate professionals in the room and are excited to be championing diversity in our industry on a global stage.”