What made you decide to follow a career in treasury?
I grew up in outback WA near Kalgoorlie, the middle son of a GP and nurse – I had absolutely no desire to see blood, so that ruled out medicine! Dad was constantly being called out to mining accidents or car crashes, and I knew from an early age that was just not for me.
I always enjoyed wheeling and dealing, and by 12 my brother and I had set up a successful lawn mowing and window washing business. The local resi’s loved the idea of kids working in their yard, so the marketing aspect of the business was taken care of! The town only had about 1200 locals, so everybody knew everybody and there was a strong sense of community. We still have a laugh about two kids and a dog pushing a mower from one side of town to the other.
Fast forward 15 years – I had always been fascinated with Asian culture, so I picked up a degree in Chinese and Finance. I completed the second half in Beijing on a Curtin Business School scholarship, which was a very interesting experience. I took a year off after uni to travel and spent most of my time living in New York. That was when the GFC hit – not the best time to travel as my savings literally halved! But interesting to be in the thick of it as my apartment was 5 blocks away from Wall Street.
I returned to Perth to embark on a career, and shortly after an opportunity opened at a Chinese mining company seeking a Treasury Analyst. Admittedly I knew very little about Treasury, but upon researching the role it seemed to incorporate all the aspects I was looking for in a career. I was fortunate to have a very good manager and senior colleague who both quickly became mentors. They are still working together in Treasury 10 years later but at a different company!
What are the most enjoyable and also the most challenging aspects of treasury?
Treasury captures all of the aspects that I enjoyed from studying finance, accounting, and economics, as well as offering opportunities to be creative, roll up your sleeves and get involved in the business in a direct manner. These aspects were key to me –I wanted to be dealing with people on a personal level and making a valuable contribution through my performance.
Treasury as a market facing function provides many opportunities to meet with a variety of enterprises and organisations in different forms – negotiating deals with banks, working through exciting projects utilising market leading consultants, and liaising with knowledgeable accounting and law firms can be very rewarding. There are also terrific opportunities available to socialise with other Treasurers and discuss challenges in the current market and solutions to those challenges – one of the great opportunities of being involved with the FTA!
For me the challenges for Treasury are maintaining a robust strategic function that acts jointly as a safeguard for the business whilst providing tangible economic value. The appropriate management of financial and technological risks both internal and external is key, while simultaneously demonstrating to the CFO and board that investing in their Treasury team has a direct impact on shareholder return.
What is your view for developing yourself to continue to be a successful treasurer?
I think continuous improvement should always be front of mind for the treasurer – upskilling of both soft skills and hard skills where appropriate, and keeping involved in industry relevant events.
I am a strong advocate of mentorship and completing a post-grad study in a related field – I completed an AMCT diploma in corporate treasury and a CPA and from my experience have found these have directly assisted my understanding and development as a corporate treasurer.
Particularly for younger members of the FTA I would recommend investigating such educational opportunities, as well as educational and mentorship programs provided by the FTA.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting their treasury career?
I think Treasury is an exciting career path that will offer a variety of opportunities for career development and personal growth – its allows for diversity across almost any industry, as well as translatable business and risk management skills which are integral in a rapidly evolving business space.
One of the issues on the table at present is how AI will affect future jobs – so young people need to take care in considering what kind of career they want, and what it may look like in the future.
It’s interesting to try and conceive how the world may look going forward – in reflection of the last 10 years with the rise of the FAANG corps, shared services including Uber and Airbnb, China’s evolution, and an almost zero interest rate economy …what could happen in the next 10? The rise of Ai, flying driverless cars, Trumpenomics and the next generation of tech-savvy coding literate creative millennials is certainly a recipe for an exciting change!
In my view treasury will remain an integral function within these evolving markets, as the growing need for risk management, stewardship and strategy will be pertinent in the years to come.
As the Chair of the NSW Committee, what are your hopes for the year ahead?
I’m a strong believer in teamwork and from experience believe that anything is possible when people work together. The recent FTA conference at Gold Coast was an excellent example of the opportunities for new learnings and development, networking and a rewarding social time for all involved.
I would really like to see more of this in 2019 on a state level – my hope is in 2019 the NSW Treasury community get involved with the FTA as much as possible and recognise the intrinsic value inherent in the organisation – which is really motivated by member involvement!
We, the committee will endeavour to provide opportunities for all members to participate in throughout the year, to provide keynote speakers who will deliver on the relevant topics to assist in the day to day management of successful treasury bodies, as well as important networking events – as Chairman I would only ask you to make the effort to attend, and contribute your own ideas and feedback !
Through all of us working together, in the same direction, anything is achievable. 2019 – year of the pig!