Women in Treasury

Women in Treasury New York Forum 2018

Published: Jan 2019


On 10th October over 150 attendees from the worlds of corporate finance, technology and banking came together to celebrate women in treasury at the third annual Women in Treasury New York Forum.

Over 150 women and men from the world of finance gathered at the Pierre hotel in Midtown Manhattan on 10th October for the third Women in Treasury New York Forum. The event saw professionals arrive from the East and West Coasts of the US to celebrate women in corporate treasury and the allies who support progress in our industry.

The Forum is going from strength to strength every year. Not only is it a fantastic and rare opportunity to bring together likeminded professionals to meet their peers and share their views and experiences; it also enables them to assess data from the latest Women in Treasury Global Study in partnership with State Street Global Advisors and hear from our fabulous panellists who this year were: Debbie Kaya, Senior Director, Treasury, Global Cash and Operations, Cisco; Nancy Pierce, Managing Director, Global Head of Payment Programs, Global Liquidity and Cash Management, HSBC; Christy Barwick, Treasurer, Core Scientific; and Pia McCusker, Senior Managing Director and Global Head of Cash Management, State Street Global Advisors.

The day began with a networking drinks reception during which Treasury Today Group’s Sophie Jackson, Joint Publisher & Head of Strategic Content, and Meg Coates, Joint Publisher & Head of Operations, talked briefly about what inspired them to launch the Women in Treasury initiative before providing a summary of the latest annual global study results. Guests then moved through to the lavish ballroom of The Pierre, built in the 1930s and a landmark on Fifth Avenue, for a seated lunch. After the main course, the panellists took to the stage for a discussion moderated by Sophie.

Christy spoke about her path to treasury, recalling: “My treasury career began at an early age when I was elected as treasurer of my elementary school!” Christy has enjoyed a varied and exciting career, having initially held corporate treasury and finance positions at Daimler Trucks and PACCAR before moving on to Microsoft where she worked in treasury capital management – corporate finance under the leadership of her professional mentor, Anita Mehra. In 2011 she became the first treasurer of the largest invention capital company, Intellectual Ventures, founded by former CTO of Microsoft, Nathan Myhrvold. After spending nearly seven years at Intellectual Ventures, Christy was approached by Kevin Turner, former Microsoft COO and the current CEO of blockchain and AI start-up Core Scientific, to become Core’s first treasurer.

Pia spoke of the fabulous mentors who have helped her throughout her career, notably people who provided support and training when she started her career at Fleet Bank. A stint at a start-up followed but it was short-lived as the company sadly closed. Pia returned to graduate school and, armed with a degree, went to State Street Global Advisors where she has been for 18 years. She is full of praise for her manager, Matthew Steinaway, Chief Investment Officer of Fixed Income, Cash and Currency,: “He is a leader I have followed and been supported by the whole way. We have worked together for 13 years. He is a leader who allows talent to thrive and has no bias or prejudice.”

The challenge for me has been to understand and recognise when the time is right to make a major decision like relocating or changing company.

Christy Barwick, Treasurer, Core Scientific

Debbie spoke of her career journey, beginning with her desire to become a doctor. She recalled graduating in the early 90s when there was a big downturn and a challenging jobs market. Debbie was initially cajoled into her role in treasury at Cisco by her manager – something she is now grateful for, as it has led to a rewarding career. She describes her career path as “one that has been defined by taking chances and moving to take on roles that I had never done before and by leadership that believed in me”.

Nancy has been based in New York for the majority of her career but her postings have included Hong Kong (with Chase Manhattan) and London (with HSBC). Her career has been defined by making decisions, such as changing company or location, based very much on what would work for everyone at home at a given point in time. “The challenge for me has been to understand and recognise when the time is right to make a major decision like relocating or changing company,” she says.

Christy followed up on Debbie’s comments by talking about the importance of “knowing when the time is right to move on”. These moments allow us to refresh and ‘to tap into our network’ she says, pointing to her own decision, after leaving Intellectual Ventures, to take some time out, meet lots of different, interesting people across her network, and generally recharge. Understanding what is most important at various stages of one’s career and being strategic in identifying and filling gaps in your professional portfolio is critical, she says.

Boardroom quotas

The evolution of female representation in the financial industry was the next focus of discussion, with Debbie relating how, from her college days through to working in capital markets and European cash management, she saw changes in that representation. Working in predominantly male environments early in her career and then, later in Amsterdam, in a largely female environment, led Debbie to understand the importance of real diversity in representation, one that is not just limited to gender. The tokenism that she had encountered many years ago appears to have abated, Debbie feels, and she has begun to observe women truly moving up the ranks in the industry.

A debate about how best to encourage a culture of inclusion and what is meant when we speak of an inclusive environment followed. For Nancy an inclusive environment is one where everyone is welcome and where there is true representation, creating a perfect “recipe for businesses to do well”. While she has observed women coming up the ranks, she believes there is still a long way to go. Leaders are now under growing pressure to reach down and to pull up rising talent and that needs to be encouraged, even if it requires the use of quotas, she believes.

A live poll of the forum participants to gauge their support for the use of quotas for board representation revealed that roughly 70% of those present were in favour – far greater than the 44% of the Women in Treasury Annual Global Study 2018 respondents who also support quotas.

Pia then highlighted the importance of diversity of thought and getting different people, with different viewpoints, together in a room. In her current role, Pia has worked hard to bring some interesting new hires into her team and to really make sure that diverse opinions and backgrounds are represented.

Mentoring is being seen as an increasingly vital tool in the corporate workplace. Christy shared her experience about the benefits she herself has derived from acting as a mentor and how honoured she felt to have such a role. For many years she was a leader in Intellectual Venture’s Senior Women’s Mentoring Circle, comprising a diverse group of senior women who came together to help support each other to achieve their personal and professional goals. Nancy expanded on the theme by detailing how mentoring, sponsorship and coaching can come into play at various key moments during one’s career.

Question of balance

It is more important than ever in today’s fast-moving world to manage not just our careers but also our own personal development, ensuring a balance. Pia explained that the domestic set-up that has allowed her to be at her best professionally is to have a stay-at-home husband. She emphasised the importance of extracurricular activities for ensuring the pressures of work do not overwhelm. She is also a champion of parental leave and has worked to ensure that the people who work for her, both men and women, take up their entitlement in full.

Parity continues to be an issue to the respondents of the Women in Treasury Annual Global Study, with 39% of the 2018 respondents feeling they were not being paid the same as their male counterparts. Nancy was asked to share some implementable advice on negotiating, as this should be at least one route women can take to be paid what they are worth. She suggested those with a grievance over pay should do some research through various means to determine industry benchmarks and company expectations, followed by some tough but fact-based conversations with their managers about what they think they are actually worth. Christy amplified Nancy’s comments by sharing her own approach when negotiating. When asked what her own salary requirements were, she replied, “more is better!” A lesson for us all.

Inspirational journeys

Outside of our professional communities is a wider community that we all belong to. The Women in Treasury initiative strongly supports and encourages all professionals from the industry to think about the ways in which they can be part of a broader community movement which helps everyone to thrive. Christy shared her experiences of serving on the board of FIRST Washington, a STEM and mentor-based organisation, and of the importance of finding opportunities to contribute and give back to our communities.

Pia’s final piece of advice was to be “real and authentic”, noting her own experience of being honest and human in front of her team at critical moments and seeing how powerful that can be.

The event ended on an emotive note, as the panellists spoke of the special and unique individuals who had most inspired them in their own journeys to where they are today. They included the story of one woman who went from segregated schooling to M.I.T and then to running a large corporation. What was noticeable in all four individuals who were highlighted as an inspiration by our panellists was their human traits of authenticity, kindness, determination and respect. What never fails to surprise at our discussions on career development is how important it is to be ourselves and to cultivate the best version of that as we advance up the ladder.

Treasury Today Women in Treasury initiative

Our Women in Treasury initiative recognises the importance of women in the treasury profession and creates a means for women to communicate with one another; learn from each other and network in order to help each other. Women need to be much more visible in their roles, both inside and outside of their organisation. Women and men need to come together to celebrate diversity in all its forms and move the conversation forward. Events such as our Women in Treasury Forums are an integral part of this path to diversity.

In 2019 we will host our Women in Treasury Forums in Singapore, London and New York.

Our Women in Treasury initiative also includes:

  • Profiles of female corporate leaders.
  • The annual Women in Treasury Global Study, proudly supported by State Street Global Advisors.
  • Our Women in Treasury LinkedIn networking group.
  • Woman of the Year awards at the Adam Smith Awards and Adam Smith Awards Asia.

To learn more about the Treasury Today Women in Treasury initiative please visit: treasurytoday.com/women-in-treasury

For further information please contact Lisa Bigley, Global Head of Events, lisa.bigley@treasurytoday.com

All our content is free, just register below

As we move to a new and improved digital platform all users need to create a new account. This is very simple and should only take a moment.

Already have an account? Sign In

Already a member? Sign In

This website uses cookies and asks for your personal data to enhance your browsing experience.