Women in Treasury

The power of representation and supporting community

Published: Nov 2023

On October 12th Treasury Today Group concluded their 2023 global Women in Treasury tour with their US Forum, which took place in the distinctly elegant Midtown Loft & Terrace, New York. Our congratulations to this year’s Women of the Year in the Americas awards winners, Sheila Quintus and Andrea Amozurrutia Casillas, whose achievements were celebrated with our vibrant community.

Women in Treasury US Forum 2023 panellist group photo

Treasury Today Group’s Women in Treasury US Forum took place at the refined Midtown Loft & Terrace on October 12th. Sophie Jackson, Treasury Today Group’s Joint Publisher & Head of Strategic Content hosted a panel discussion and celebratory lunch where treasury leaders from across the region discussed their unique career paths, experiences with representation and the value of mentoring and sponsorship.

Four expert panellists joined us:

  • Sheila Quintus – Vice President and Corporate Treasurer, Medtronic
  • Jayna Bundy – General Manager of Procurement, Microsoft
  • Laide Majiyagbe – Global Head of Financing and Liquidity, BNY Mellon
  • Jennifer Acosta – Managing Director, Global Head of Media and Telecom and North America Enterprise Technology, J.P. Morgan

Portrait of Sheila Quintus – Vice President and Corporate Treasurer, Medtronic

Meg Coates, Joint Publisher & Head of Operations, Treasury Today Group opened the forum with a warm welcome to this year’s attendees. She explained how the Women in Treasury initiative began 11 years ago, with the goal of pioneering women in the industry. She went on to address the overwhelming support the platform has received throughout its evolution, from first profiling women to encompassing forums and roundtables around the globe and growing an awards programme. Meg ended her speech encouraging guests to collect a copy of the Women in Treasury Global Equity Study 2023, sponsored by Standard Chartered.

Sophie then hosted a fireside chat with special guest speaker, Andrea Amozurrutia Casillas, Finance and Sustainability Director at Grupo Herdez. Named one of the 100 most powerful women in Mexico this year, Andrea has a dual role within sustainability and finance, two areas that she believes should be entwined in all companies. She was the first Latin American woman to join the UN Global Compact’s CFO Coalition for the SDG initiative, where she is working to create guidelines to help companies embed sustainability in their own agendas. Additionally, Andrea shared how she found a passion for mentoring women, through Grupo Herdez, as she began a programme that mentors women with small businesses to incorporate them into the company’s supply chain. Andrea continues this passion outside of the workplace, as a personal finance mentor, where she helps women who have never had access to this tool to build personal wealth and become financially independent.

Portrait of Andrea Amozurrutia Casillas, Finance and Sustainability Director at Grupo Herdez

The panel session began with Jayna Bundy, General Manager of Procurement at Microsoft, sharing her recent move to procurement after working in treasury for 18 years. This is a move that many find inquisitive but displays the potential career growth beyond treasury and the transferable skills treasury gives. “I think one of the benefits of treasury, is that we touch so many things across our companies,” she said. “People think of treasury as very specialised, which it is, but it is also very broad in terms of the experiences we get.”

Fellow panellist Shelia Quintus, Vice President and Corporate Treasurer, started at Medtronic in 2010. Sheila explained how a company “supportive and involved in human welfare is a very compelling attribute.” Shelia also described the alignment of purpose that motivates her work, as the company shares common values with her written in their company mission – one of which is the personal worth of all employees, and another is to maintain good citizenship as a company.

Laide Majiyagbe, Global Head of Financing and Liquidity at BNY Mellon, shared her career history, which began in engineering, and how her relationship with representation has developed. Growing up in Nigeria and attending an all-girls school, Laide believed that representation did not seem to matter because she had grown up as the majority. After moving to the UK, she recognised quickly that this was not everyone’s experience. “Initially, I didn’t think representation mattered, I thought work really hard and you will be very successful,” she said. Talking about the industry, Laide said, “as I became more senior, the importance of representation started to come to light and my view evolved. Representation does matter. At senior ranks, working hard was no longer the only thing that mattered. It is more nuanced, it is just as much qualitative as it is quantitative.” Laide explained the pressure a lack of representation presents, through a powerful quote once shared with her: “if I don’t see people that look like me in senior positions, I have then got the burden of trying to break that ceiling.”

Portrait of Jayna Bundy – General Manager of Procurement, Microsoft

Jennifer Acosta, Managing Director, Global Head of Media and Telecom and North America Enterprise Technology at J.P. Morgan, echoed Laide’s belief in the idea of the slight myth surrounding meritocracy, explaining how early in her career she believed that keeping her head down and working hard would get results alone, but over time she learnt that working hard was not enough. “The playing field is not level, and because the playing field is not level it is not always possible to get the experience and skills for the role you are competing for, so we need to acknowledge that and do what we can to level up those around us,” she said.

DEI progress

The panel discussion moved on to consider what we can do as individuals to help communities. As a sponsor for the Muslim & Friends Employee Resource Group at Medtronic, Sheila explained when people come to her for advice, she has gone to others to ask for help on how best to support a community and show that she is an ally. “As someone who has a lot of privilege, making sure that I know when to step back and be quiet, and give a lot of space and respect, when people are being impacted in ways that I cannot understand as I have not had the same life experience is important.”

Laide shared her experience on the challenge of saying the right thing to help a particular community, reflecting that in the wake of George Floyd’s murder “people did not want to say the wrong thing, so nobody was saying anything.” When starting her career, Laide felt we/she couldn’t discuss certain topics at work but believes we have evolved and are now having these difficult conversations.

Portrait of Laide Majiyagbe – Global Head of Financing and Liquidity, BNY Mellon

A poll displayed that the majority of guests in the room believe that a lot of DEI progress is being made within their companies, but a small number did feel that companies have retrenched their approaches somewhat in the past couple of years. Laide emphasised this, sharing “I think we have come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.” Laide stated that in recent years, she has observed more representation of historically underrepresented groups at her level but there is still more work to do.

The panel agreed that there is now more awareness of inclusivity and more emphasis on including everyone in the conversation. Starting her career, working in a male dominated environment, Jennifer recounted how she felt a need to emulate male leaders to try and keep up but found that she was still excluded from some activities and conversations. Jennifer linked back to the importance of representation, sharing that when she moved to J.P. Morgan and saw many female leaders, it gave her the confidence to be her authentic self. Jennifer is now heavily involved in J.P. Morgans DEI initiatives and encourages others that “if you don’t know something, don’t be afraid of it, jump into it, educate yourself, ask questions, mistakes are okay.”

Leadership skills

An important leadership skill is showing appreciation and recognition as much as possible. Sheila said, “it’s about showing appreciation for the bringing forward of ideas, the contribution and engagement, not so much the quality of the idea.”

Laide explained the importance of confidence, sharing “confidence for me came from reflection.” Now when taking on a new project or opportunity, she reflects on how this is similar to a previous experience. “I am my biggest critic, but also my biggest advocate,” Laide stated. “If you don’t believe you have a seat at the table, nobody will.”

Portrait of Jennifer Acosta – Managing Director, Global Head of Media and Telecom and North America Enterprise Technology, J.P. Morgan

In response to a question asked by the room, the panel collectively agreed the importance of asking for help and communication, at any career stage. “It is so obvious that we need to ask for what we need,” said Sheila. Jennifer added to this, emphasising that there is no perfect balance between work and personal life, but it is about being honest and open.

Laide narrated how her work-life balance changed after having her daughter, and how she learnt from advice how to pick her priorities. She gave the example of how she loves running and therefore gets up early to find time to run alongside work. “Give yourself grace, decide what is more important and stick to that.”

Moving on to discuss how to impact positive change, Jayna explained how coaching, mentoring and teaching has helped her grow, and she continues the cycle by leading the Women in Finance Employee Resource Group (ERG) at Microsoft. Jayna shared how her strong female mentors at Microsoft have been critical in shaping her career. “When I look back at my experiences working with them, it’s where they have challenged me to take risks that have been key.” This experience of her mentors helping her fight impostor syndrome when feeling inadequate for a role has been critical for her development. “Now when someone tells me I can’t do that or I’m afraid, I decide that’s the one we are going to work on together,” she said.

The discussion ended with Jennifer sharing some of her best tips for sponsors and mentors in the room. “I think everybody should be both,” adding that people should open themselves up to as many opportunities as possible. “If you are in a position to help someone, make a connection or advance their career, we should take ownership of that,” she concluded.

Find out more about our Women in Treasury initiative.

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