Women in Treasury

Women in Treasury: Lavender Murray, TC Energy

Published: Jul 2022
Lavender Murray, TC Energy

This much I know

TC Energy’s Lavender Murray discusses career progression, the impact of the pandemic on mental health, and the value of pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone.

Lavender Murray

Manager, Sustainable Finance
TC Energy logo

Founded in 1951, TC Energy (formerly known as TransCanada Corporation) is a North American energy company headquartered in Alberta, Canada. It is one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America, with pipeline, power and storage assets of over CA$100bn as at end of 2021. Today the company has an extraordinary opportunity to lead the energy transition – developing solutions to move, generate and store the energy North America relies on in an increasingly secure and sustainable way.

Since joining TC Energy in December 2012, Lavender has gained an in-depth knowledge of cash management and all aspects of the treasury function. In May this year she moved from treasury to a newly-created role heading up the company’s sustainable finance initiatives. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant and holds an MBA in Accounting and Finance from the University of Calgary, as well as a Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from the University of Manitoba.

How did you arrive at your current role?

I started my career in finance in 2004 when I joined WestJet as a business analyst, before moving to ATCO Power in 2007 as a project accountant. In 2012 I joined TC Energy as a senior analyst, at first doing energy derivatives accounting, and then after 18 months moving to a cost planning and forecasting role.

Following a reorganisation of the company in 2016, I joined the cash management operation and then took over as Manager in 2018. To ensure that the company can really focus on and advance its environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies, I have recently moved to a newly created role at TC Energy: Manager of Sustainable Finance.

Would you recommend having a defined career plan or being open and flexible?

Having a definite plan has never worked for me. If someone asks me where I want to be in five years, the answer is – I don’t know! Five years ago, I never would have guessed I would be in my current position. So I would say, be open to all possibilities. The most important thing is to know what you like and what you don’t like. Then you can have some idea of the areas that you might like to pursue in the future.

How has the conversation around inclusion and diversity evolved over the past few years?

In recent years it has evolved in leaps and bounds. At a company level, it’s about measuring where we are at the moment and planning for where we would like to be in the future – TC now has concrete targets for women in leadership and on the Board, and we are making progress against those goals. For those in positions of leadership, it’s important that they check their own biases. When people are recruiting and reviewing resumes, it’s important to do this in a totally unbiased way – sometimes you have to actively check any unconscious bias you might have, to make sure that you are not discounting someone because of their name or gender.

What advice would you give to women in finance in terms of establishing and developing a career?

Women need to be thoughtful in their approach to building really good networks. I believe the most important thing – and something that I wish I had done sooner – is to establish good relationships, not just with immediate colleagues but with broader groups in the organisation as well.

What is your motto in life or your greatest inspiration?

“Have no regrets.” Also, remember that life is lived on the edge of your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries of what you’re comfortable with. Rather than stay within the middle of the safe areas, push towards the edges – because that’s where the magic happens.

Sometimes you have to actively check any unconscious bias you might have, to make sure that you are not discounting someone because of their name or gender.

Career progression

Lavender had been working for TC Energy as a senior analyst for several years before she was asked to join the cash management operation on a temporary secondment. What began as a short-term arrangement turned into six and a half years. “It was very much the case that treasury found me,” she recalls. “It wasn’t something that I was looking to do. It certainly wasn’t on my radar as a place that I could go to, have a great career and be happy.”

Nevertheless, she hit the ground running: shortly after Lavender joined treasury, the company acquired the Columbia Pipeline Group for US$13bn. “This was a huge project for which I was the treasury expert, becoming the de facto treasury leader of CPG until they became fully integrated,” she says. “It was during this period that I learned so much about treasury.”

In 2018, Lavender took over the role of Cash Management Operations Manager. A notable achievement during this time was an initiative to change the company’s main bank, which meant creating a request for proposal (RFP). “The company recognised the need to review and adjust our banking relationship. I knew it would be a lot of hard work to change, and it would be complicated, but it was a necessary thing to do,” Lavender explains. “Overseeing the whole process of selecting the new bank from start to finish was a huge undertaking. I regard it as the pinnacle of my treasury career.”

Challenging times

It was while Lavender was engaged on this mammoth project that the pandemic struck. “I’m an extrovert, and I thrive in interaction with people. Sitting behind a screen for two years was difficult for me,” she explains. “My leadership style is to be present and engaged. It was a challenge learning to do that remotely.”

After separating amicably from her husband before COVID-19 struck, she found herself having to be a single parent to her two daughters, now aged 11 and 13. “The stress of COVID, and working on a major project whilst transitioning to working from home was tough enough,” she recalls, “but added to this was the challenge of having children with changes in schooling and a reduction in their activities.”

During this time it was important to maintain a good team morale and to keep the lines of communication open. Staying connected with the team became not just about the work, but about the person. “To be a good leader – an authentic leader – you have to be transparent,” she cautions. “Sharing my struggles meant that others could be open about the struggles they were also having to face.”

Sharing experiences

Lavender is firm in her opinion that sharing such experiences helps towards reducing the stigma around mental health problems. “We have to be open and honest about this. Nobody is a one-dimensional being. You can be a successful person and have a great career and still struggle. A lot of people are experiencing worse mental health now than before the pandemic,” she says. “Certainly for the first time in my life I developed anxiety. Fortunately, I was able to get help from my doctor and have therapy, and it has really worked for me.”

She is also thankful for the support she enjoyed from her network of family and friends as well as from her colleagues. “I’m grateful that I had a job that kept me busy and happy, at a company where I have been able to talk about my experience and that has such amazing leadership,” Lavender comments.

Looking back at her time in treasury, Lavender believes that for women in the corporate world, it is an exciting time. “I wish more women would consider treasury as a career,” she reflects. “It can be so rewarding for people who love numbers and analytics. And it’s a great way to network with people and build relationships. I’m grateful for all the opportunities it has given me. I came out of it a better person than when I went in.”

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