Thursday March 8th 2018 marked not only International Women’s Day, but also the official launch of the partnership between Treasury Today Group and State Street Global Advisors on the Treasury Today Women in Treasury Global Study. One year on, and what has come out of this relationship so far has been another successful annual study, multiple global forums and a series of global roundtables, bringing together women and men from all industries to discuss current issues faced today in corporate treasury.
2019, the second year of this partnership, was especially productive for expanding and improving the dialogue around these issues, so here’s a look back at the past year and what we have achieved.
March 8th 2019 – New York City
Following our 2018 activities in New York City, we chose to build on our community’s conversation and revisit New York City with the Women in Treasury initiative. The day was a busy one for all. After welcoming speeches, an insightful discussion and debate took place with State Street Global Advisors’ Pia McCusker, Senior Managing Director and Global Head of Cash Management, and Dominica Ribeiro, Head of Institutional Marketing, North America.
The discussion focussed on corporate culture and why it matters, whilst the debate centred around the challenges that come from trying to instil a company ethos into an already established team, and the importance of having a positive working environment in order to attract and retain top talent.
The afternoon included a workshop, facilitated by Louise Watts, Director of HPC Global and Founder of Transition Hub, focussing on executive presence, followed by a panel discussion with the State Street Global Advisors representatives about the Women in Treasury Annual Global Study results, moderated by Sophie Jackson, Joint Publisher & Head of Strategic Content, Treasury Today Group.
Key takeaway: “Grant yourself permission to be the person you want to be.”
June 6th 2019 – Chicago
June 6th marked the first time that Women in Treasury had touched down in Chicago. An inspiring message opened the event, as Christine Stokes, Managing Director at State Street Global Advisors and Director of Client Services for the Global Cash Business, informed the room of the progress that State Street Global Advisors has made in driving diversity and inclusion; following talks with over 1,200 companies about the importance of female board members, 423 had already added a woman to their boards.
Sophie Jackson then hosted a panel discussion between Mary Gilbert, MAFM Senior Accounting Manager, Duracell, and Kimberly Bethke, Director and Treasurer at CHPPOA. Focussing on the power of the mentor/mentee relationship, both Mary and Kimberly offered valuable advice about initiating and developing successful mentoring relationships, and emphasised the importance of both parties having each other’s best interests at heart.
The excitement at coming together to debate issues of diversity and inclusion was evident in the room and it was clear that this event had started an ongoing conversation in Chicago.
Key takeaway: “We all have a voice within our organisation.”
June 13th 2019 – Boston
Another first for the Women in Treasury partnership as State Street Global Advisors brought Treasury Today to Boston. After a welcome speech from Sophie Jackson, an engaging and thought-provoking panel discussion took place between Elena P LaFrance, Treasurer of Alkermes; Jamie Cortas, Director Global Investment Management, Dell, and Natasha Dayaramani, Global Head of OCIO/Discretionary Solutions Portfolio Strategy, State Street Global Advisors, focussing on their career experiences.
Afterwards the room participated in a group discussion on the 2018 Women in Treasury Global Study results, with attendees sharing their views and experiences of topics such as flexible working, parental leave and representation quotas.
Key takeaway: “Sometimes you have to crowbar your way in.”
September 16th 2019 – Seattle
A special event was co-hosted by State Street Global Advisors, Treasury Today and Microsoft at the latter’s Seattle headquarters. Opening the event was Microsoft CFO, Amy Hood, before Christine Stokes updated the progress since Chicago in June and informed the attendees that the number of companies committed to adding a woman to their boards was now 577.
Theresa Whitmarsh, Executive Director, Washington State Investment Board; Anita Mehra, VP Worldwide Payment Solutions, Microsoft; Jennifer Ceran, CFO, Smartsheet; Laura Smith, Vice President, Treasurer, Pension, Credit & Risk, Weyerhaeuser and Kevin Zimmerman, VP, Head of US Cash Direct Channel, State Street Global Advisors completed the stellar line-up for the panel discussion.
Each panellist shared valuable insights and experiences. From being the only woman in the room, to persevering and overcoming setbacks, to being an ally to any men or women who may be experiencing discrimination. They also gave their perspectives on how to pursue career opportunities and emphasised the importance of both being able to advocate for yourself and having a strong network of sponsors.
Key takeaway: “If you’re a woman in a position of influence and power, you have an absolute obligation to use that to help other women.”
September 18th 2019 – Palo Alto
Palo Alto saw a more intimate event, allowing the attendees to engage in a more flexible panel debate and interactive data discussion session. After a welcoming speech by Pia McCusker, the panel discussion was moderated by Sophie Jackson with the three experts for this event being Kevin Zimmerman, reprising his role from Seattle a few days prior, Anita Bubna, Senior Director, Treasury, Flex, and Treasury Today’s Highly Commended Woman of the Year in the 2019 Adam Smith Awards, and Debdatta Banerjee, Senior Manager – Finance Systems at eBay (Payments).
All three experienced finance professionals shared the crucial lessons they each learned on their journeys to their current positions, before turning to some of the key themes of the Women in Treasury Global Study; diversity and inclusion, making allies, and eliminating unconscious bias.
Sophie then shared some of the then-unpublished findings of the 2019 Women in Treasury Global Study, before opening up the room for a larger discussion. Attendees shared their own experiences, as well as how they have overcome challenges and their thoughts on quotas for representation on boards.
Key takeaway: “Diversity and inclusion are everybody’s responsibility… You have to live it, and be a model for other people, even when it might make you uncomfortable.”
It’s been a busy year for Women in Treasury and State Street Global Advisors, and a productive one too. The success that is being seen in opening the dialogue and pushing for more progress is phenomenal, and we look forward to 2020 bringing just as much, if not more.
Sculpture by Kristen Visbal, commissioned by State Street Global Advisors