1. Can you provide an overview of your career journey in treasury, highlighting key milestones and experiences that have shaped your path?
I will always be grateful for the people who trusted me at the start and those who continue to support me on this journey. I don’t want to sound cliché, but it all began as something of an accident. Back in 2007, an opportunity presented itself, and I decided to seize it. My career in Treasury began in the Netherlands (NL) with a large multinational corporation, where I started as an assistant accountant in their back office. Initially, I was on a 6-month contract, but soon, the management alleviated my concerns about job security by offering me a permanent employment contract. This marked my first personal and professional milestone. I had recently moved to the Netherlands, and it was a challenging period due to the global financial crisis.
After a year in the back office, there was an internal opportunity to join the Treasury operations team, and management asked me if I was interested. I’m not one to shy away from change and new experiences, so I said YES. I had an incredible time working with an amazing, fun, and international team, most of us being in our mid and late 20s. The three years in the Treasury operations role were instrumental in my development across various areas. The learnings and hard work during this time provided a solid foundation for what was yet to come. I supported and took on leading roles in projects such as new ERP and TMS implementation, regulatory changes, operational improvements through process automation, and passing on knowledge to new team members. These were some of the great memories from those days.
It was time for a new challenge, so I moved to Cash Management, where I worked for a year. After that year, I joined a team of four Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) as a Manager in the Treasury Strategic Projects team. This role opened doors to the next opportunity, and after almost 10 years, I decided to join one of the Big 4 firms as a Manager in their Treasury consultancy and advisory team. During my four years as a consultant, I helped clients from various sectors with different topics. It was during this period as a consultant that I had the opportunity to further develop skills like project management, people coaching, advisory work, expand my treasury network, and collaborate with companies and Treasury teams from other EU countries.
My days as a consultant ended in January 2021. Since then, I’ve returned to the corporate side as a Global Senior Manager for the Specialties business of SABIC, where I lead the Treasury team and support the company in its standalone journey.
2. In your opinion, what are the most critical skills and qualities that a successful treasurer should possess?
A prerequisite for success is a good mix of hard and soft skills:
- Risk management
- Strategic mindset
- Effective communication and relationship-building
- Technical expertise
3. How do you stay up-to-date with the latest developments and trends in the treasury field, and how do you apply this knowledge in your role?
I stay up-to-date with the latest developments and trends in the treasury field through various means:
- Maintaining a membership with our local Treasury associations (DACT).
- Following treasury and financial news.
- Virtually connecting with treasury experts through social media.
- Gaining insights from our relationship banks.
- Participating in treasury events.
- I apply this knowledge in my role by integrating the latest industry insights into our strategies and decision-making processes.
4. Looking ahead, what do you see as the most significant challenges and opportunities for treasurers in the coming years, and how are you preparing for them?
- Economic Risk: High volatility in foreign exchange (FX) rates, commodity prices, and interest rates.
- Reliable Cash Flow Forecasting.
- Ever-evolving Treasury Technology.
- Regulatory Changes.
- Attracting new treasury talents with digital and analytical skills into your company.
For this “new” generation of treasurers, the exposure and unique learning opportunities in the current unprecedented times are significant. The importance of the treasury function and expertise in a company is now clear, regardless of its size.
Revising and, in some cases, adjusting treasury strategies, including capital structures. Expanding roster of service providers with new models to support the treasury function, such as Software as a Service (SaaS).
Embracing sustainability in treasury activities and recognizing the pivotal role of sustainability initiatives in global treasury. How am I preparing for these changes? I am continuously learning and adopting a student’s mindset. I engage in consultations and communication with other functions, including legal, tax, controllership, and finance managers. I acknowledge that immediate answers and solutions are often unrealistic, but with a strong team and cross-functional efforts, we should be able to manage and develop solutions that were previously unthinkable.
Lourdes journey is a testament to the power of seizing opportunities and embracing change. Her career path from an assistant accountant to a Global Senior Manager for SABIC’s Specialties business is marked by continuous learning and adaptability. Her commitment to staying updated with industry developments and trends through various channels and integrating this knowledge into her role showcases her dedication to excellence. She acknowledges the challenges and opportunities on the horizon for treasurers, from economic risks to embracing sustainability initiatives, and her proactive approach of learning, cross-functional collaboration, and innovative thinking positions her well for the future of treasury. Her journey is an inspiring example of what it takes to succeed in this field. Thanks for sharing your story with us Lourdes!