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Managing Director, Treasury Solutions, SunGard AvantGardAndrew
Woods is MCT qualified and has been successful in senior treasury positions in a number of major corporations including Guinness, Kvaerner and Cable & Wireless. In addition to his treasury expertise, Andrew has an impressive record in treasury technology solutions and is now responsible for product strategy for SunGard’s suite of treasury solutions. In this article, Andrew talks about his career, how his experience in corporate treasury has benefitted his role at SunGard and his advice for other treasury professionals considering a similar career move.
I studied Business Studies at college, sponsored by General Electric. When I left, I joined the treasury department at GE, although it was my intention to move into accounting - I never made the move however, and ended up working in GE’s treasury for 18 months. I then joined Guinness where I worked in treasury for six years, initially as treasury assistant but as treasury controller by the time I left. We had been using the Econintel treasury system which we decided to replace. Having conducted a selection project, we licensed Richmond Software (now part of Wall Street Systems) and once we’d implemented the system, I decided to move to Richmond Software. At that time, it was unusual to move from a corporate treasury to a systems supplier as vendors were still more focused on delivering software than the associated services which are now so important. This is less the case today as vendors now prize the skills that treasury professionals bring to their business.
Much of the success of my roles is in influencing a very diverse set of individuals.
I moved from Richmond to TNT, where we selected and implemented Quantum before it was acquired by the Dutch postal service, and I decided not to make the move to the Netherlands. I went to the Norwegian company Kvaerner, whose treasury was based in London following the acquisition of Trafalgar House, and worked as their Dealing Manager. One of the reasons I got the job there was that I had experience with Quantum, which they had recently licensed as their treasury management system. We used to actively manage the exposures from our internal subsidiaries and had an important role in contributing to the company’s profits without increasing our exposures.
With both significant experience of Quantum and corporate treasury, I decided to move to GIS, now SunGard, as a consultant managing large projects such as Exxon and Nestle. After a couple of years, although I had no plans to move from this role, a former colleague became Group Treasurer at Cable & Wireless plc and invited me to become Deputy Treasurer, which was a very exciting career opportunity.
At that time, the company had a very large amount of cash so it was a dynamic and innovative time for the treasury team. I was in the role for four and a half years and was involved not only in the types of cash and hedging activities I had undertaken in the past, but also in new areas such as maximising return from structured investments. This, alongside the experience I’d had at Guinness, TNT and Kvaerner stood me in good stead for the subsequent consultancy work I have done with corporate clients.
A beneficial career move
Coming back to SunGard has been a highly beneficial career move. During my corporate treasury roles, I was heavily involved in the detail of how each company worked but had little exposure to how other companies approached the same problems. At SunGard, I get to spend time with a large number of treasurers from countries around the world. Very often, these companies are faced with the same issues but have a very different way of tackling them. This has given me the ability to gain a breadth and diversity of knowledge very quickly. I enjoy problem-solving, and although corporate treasury also involves solving problems, working with a software vendor is quite different and the skills required differ too. For example, project management skills are very important and rather than managing a small treasury team, much of the success of my role is in influencing a very diverse set of individuals - customers’ senior treasury personnel, their IT staff, internal development staff, sales people etc. This is a subtle, and in my mind, rewarding aspect of the job which was not present in my previous roles.
Today, I am no longer involved in systems implementation projects and following roles in sales consultancy and product management, I now have overall responsibility at SunGard for developing and delivery product innovation to satisfy corporations’ and banks’ changing treasury needs. I make decisions on the strategic investments we need to make as a company so that our clients see a clear roadmap for the future which they want to be part of and ensure that we deliver high quality solutions to meet clients’ expectation.