My Life in Treasury

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My Life in Treasury: Karolina Tarnawska, Grupa Žywiec In the latest installment of our series, 2012 TMI corporate award winner, Karolina Tarnawska of Grupa Žywiec (part of the Heineken Group), discusses how her career in treasury has progressed.

My Life in Treasury

Karolina Tarnawska, Treasury & Credit Risk Director, Grupa Žywiec

In the first of this series, we featured Sarah-Jane Chilver-Stainer, Senior Vice President and Group Treasurer of GSK who shared some insights on her treasury career. This month, we are delighted to welcome another of our 2012 TMI corporate award winners, Karolina Tarnawska of Grupa Žywiec, part of the Heineken Group, who won the award for payments and collections, recognising the company’s innovative cash collections project. In this interview, Karolina discusses how her career in treasury has progressed, with quite a different background and experiences to those outlined by Sarah-Jane.

How did you first get into treasury, and what attracted you to the profession?

Initially, I started in banking, and worked as a relationship manager for ING. While I was there, I had the opportunity to move to McDonalds Polska, but initially decided to remain in corporate banking, which I enjoyed. Eventually, however, the position of treasurer became vacant at McDonalds Polska, so I decided to make the move into corporate treasury.

I soon found that in corporate treasury, my actions could make an immediate difference

Although the move to the corporate sector was an exciting one, I had not necessarily planned at that time that I would pursue a treasury career. Working at a bank gave an excellent grounding in finance, and visibility over a wide range of issues; however, there was not always the opportunity to contribute directly to clients’ success. I soon found that in corporate treasury, my actions could make an immediate difference, with enormous potential to contribute positively to the financial success of the business, which I found very motivating. In addition, while at the bank, I gained a broad knowledge of a range of client issues, corporate treasury gave the opportunity to explore the business in far more detail.

How did your career progress to the role you hold now at Grupa Žywiec?

In a bank, there are typically a number of career opportunities available, but it can be more difficult to pursue a treasury career within one corporation, such as McDonalds Polska in my case. The treasury function was already very efficient, so there were not obvious areas to add value, and as a largely domestic treasury centre (compared with group treasury based in the United States) there were few international treasury issues to deal with. Like many local treasury centres of large multinationals, treasury is often more closely linked with the accounting function than international treasury, so I was keen to contribute to a larger organisation where there was more opportunity to get involved with treasury-related issues, where I felt I could offer more value.

Grupa Žywiec proved a perfect opportunity, as a large company with more than 20 operating units. Furthermore, treasury was at an earlier stage of its development so there were more areas in which to deliver value across a wide spectrum of responsibility, including cash and liquidity management, payments, financing and risk.

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