Women in Treasury

Women in Treasury: Ciar Timon, Honeywell

Published: Jul 2015

This much I know

Although Ciar Timon, Senior Regional Treasury Manager at Honeywell EMEA Treasury, credits an early move into finance to being in ‘the right place at the right time’, in this interview, we discover that her success is largely down to an honest and hardworking attitude in an increasingly challenging workplace.

Ciar Timon

Senior Regional Treasury Manager

Ciar Timon of Honeywell EMEA Corporate Treasury is Senior Regional Treasury Manager responsible for Treasury and Cash Management activities in the UK, Ireland, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Egypt. She has 13 years’ experience with Honeywell Treasury and previously worked in various finance roles, including positions in the motor and brewing industries. Ciar holds a Batchelor of Arts Degree and Higher Diploma in Education from Trinity College Dublin.

Do you feel that women bring something different to the needs of treasury?

Everybody – whether they are male or female – stamps their individual personality on each role they undertake. I believe that the trick is to show confidence while endeavouring to exclude ego and I think that many women can do this very well. Moreover, I think women are more likely to be cautious and to consider the bigger picture before proceeding with any decisions.

What more can treasurers, male or female, do to make their voices heard within their organisations?

Within a treasury department, it is important to anticipate difficulties and risks. Successful treasurers will proactively flag these up to key individuals and departments. In addition, they should also aim to find solutions to potential problems – before they occur.

Not least because of current political uncertainty in many regions, treasury managers should be aware of changes to economic and banking environments as these will inevitably present different types of challenge. They need to share their knowledge and experience to demonstrate that they can provide alternative solutions when normal processes may not be possible.

If there was one tool that could help you to be an even better corporate treasurer, what would it be?

A crystal ball! In my role, I’m often asked to predict events far into the future (sometimes beyond what the banks are prepared to predict), so this mythical tool would be invaluable.

Is there anything you would do differently in your career path to date?

I originally qualified as a secondary school teacher but, given the economic situation at the time, it was difficult to find a full-time teaching role. However, I seized other available opportunities, which, over the years, took me down a number of interesting and fulfilling paths. Accordingly, throughout my career, each role I have undertaken has led to other equally interesting and challenging positions. So, to answer the question, there isn’t anything I would have done differently.

Finally, do you have a motto in life?

My policy is never to stop learning. I believe that, by taking an active interest in ideas beyond your current environment, you can extend your reach. Everything I’ve learned in my life so far has added to my experience and continues better to equip me to operate in both my professional and personal lives.

Within a treasury department, it is important to anticipate difficulties and risks. Successful treasurers will proactively flag these up to key individuals and departments. In addition, they should also aim to find solutions to potential problems – before they occur.

Pave the way

Honeywell is a conglomerate multinational corporation (MNC) with a diversified product base and services associated with technology and manufacturing. Back in 2002, when the company was setting up its EMEA treasury team, it presented Ciar Timon, now Senior Regional Treasury Manager, with a challenge she couldn’t resist “and I’ve never looked back,” she says. “I really enjoy working in a corporate role that enables me to interact with colleagues in every strategic business group within Honeywell and to understand the different needs of each type of business,” she explains. So – what led the committed treasury manager to the role in which she currently finds fulfilment?

Although receiving her original qualifications from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, with a view to working as a secondary school teacher, the career path she ultimately followed certainly doesn’t seem a conventional one. Once Ciar found her feet in accounting, she then followed “a circuitous route into various finance roles in Canada, Ireland and the UK from the late 1970s onwards.” What is evident is that her earlier experiences remain an influence to the present day. When asked what advice she would pass on to others, her desire never to stop learning is apparent. “I would always encourage others, in order to place themselves in the best positions, to take an active interest in opportunities that can add to both their careers and personal experiences.”

Ciar herself continues to devote attention to important developments in the world of corporate treasury. “It’s really interesting to work in a company that was implementing one of the most important enhancements in treasury, the automation of treasury systems, earlier than most.” Automation, she explains, has made a big difference to treasury in recent years – even on a daily basis. “Daily investments, for example, are all carried out via online webtools and automated instructions (MT101s) to our banks.”

Tackling the regulatory headache

But, whilst talk of automation and the introduction of new concepts such as ‘digitisation’ attract attention, the role of skilled people in the corporate treasury function to provide insight and awareness has never been more important. In recent years, for instance, regulation compliance has become a burden that corporate treasurers must tackle head-on. “At the moment, Honeywell is making great headway in areas exhibiting high growth rates, including the Middle East (ME), which falls under my responsibility,” Ciar explains.

“When we are trying to set up cash management facilities and trade facilities for subsidiaries of the business, one of the toughest challenges is dealing with local regulations. These come from central banks and from government organisations. Additionally, sometimes the interpretation of regulations by local legal firms can present quite a challenge.” Ciar’s role, therefore, involves working closely with Honeywell’s in-country managers and legal departments in order to find a way through the issues.

And, thanks to her efforts, in 2013, she was awarded the First Class Bank Relationship Management accolade in Treasury Today’s Adam Smith Awards. Speaking at the time, Ciar explained that: “Our vision is a global one – we standardise wherever possible, but with a flexible approach, which takes into account the cultural, regulatory and logistical constraints in each country.”

Her continued support of Honeywell’s ongoing focus on regions of high growth led to Ciar winning another Adam Smith Award in 2014, this time for regional best practice. The judges felt that the regional implementation of new cash management banking arrangements, in support of Honeywell’s growth initiative, showed an agile response to the inherent risks associated with doing business in Iraq.

Emblematic attitude

Of course, like for so many in the world of treasury, she admits “things are getting busier when trying to balance professional and personal lives.” Given that the pace of treasury is likely only to increase, particularly in the regions where Honeywell has been directing its efforts, does Ciar seem fazed? Not in the least. And whilst she may joke about needing a crystal ball to predict future events, Ciar certainly has the well-placed priorities and business insight to optimise Honeywell’s position in the current economic climate.

In a world where nothing stands still, Ciar considers that the best piece of advice she has been given is never simply to accept the existing state of affairs. “Question everything and ask yourself ‘is there a better way of doing this?’ If so, then try to drive that change.”

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