My Life in Treasury
Adam Boukadida, Deputy Treasurer, Etihad Airways
Adam Boukadida will be familiar to many readers of TMI, and featured in the March 2016 (242) edition of TMI as winner of the TMI Corporate Recognition Award for Innovation and Excellence in Payments, 2015. He also participated in the recent roundtable discussions in Dubai in association with D+H, summarised in editions 244 and 245. In this edition, Adam describes his career in treasury to date, and shares his experiences for other aspiring treasurers.
How did you come into treasury and what attracted you to the profession?
Originally my intention was to pursue a career in banking. My grandfather had been in the banking industry and inspired by him, I did work experience in a bank and my first role was in a bank treasury from where my career then progressed. I spent seven years at RBS, from which I learnt a huge amount, but while I was there, I recognised the attractions of corporate treasury, specifically the wide range of activities in which treasury is engaged and how treasury is at the heart of the business.
How did your career progress through to the role that you hold today?
Etihad is my fifth employer, including Kimberley Clarke where I spent twelve months as part of the team to set up a European treasury function. I also spent four years at Tesco during a time of rapid international growth, which was an exciting period of my career. However, I wanted more international experience, so the role at Etihad Airways was a wonderful opportunity to leverage my skills and experience but in a new and challenging environment. Etihad is a very dynamic and stimulating company to be a part of, with 140 nationalities working together to achieve an ambitious and motivating growth strategy. It has given me an opportunity to work with all of our equity partner airlines as well as the variety of businesses that we own fully.
How have demands and needs in terms of treasury changed over the course of your career, and what particular skills does it now require?
While the ‘core’ skill set of treasury remains vary similar, treasury has evolved to become a far more strategic business partner to the CFO, business, country heads and the board, than it has ever been in the past. Treasury-related risks can have a significant impact on a company’s fortunes, so treasurers need a place at the board table to articulate these risks and help to shape the business strategy. This takes a particular, but very important set of skills, such as the ability to communicate complex treasury issues to a non-treasury audience, whilst understanding the business in detail and identifying ways in which treasury can add value.
What qualities do you look for when you are recruiting for your department?
Etihad Airways’ treasury function covers a wide range of responsibilities, including ‘traditional’ corporate treasury activities through to corporate and structured finance, risk and insurance, payment solutions (including acquiring and fraud management) as well as property and infrastructure management. We have approximately 120 people in the wider function. Therefore the expertise and skills required in each sub-department can differ substantially. In some areas, such as corporate treasury, international experience is very valuable as realistically, no-one has experience in every market, so it’s good to build a diverse team.
Just as important as new employees’ skills and experience, however, is their attitude and willingness to succeed: how they present their ambition and drive, and how they will contribute to, and collaborate with, the team as a whole. We are active in supporting our team in developing their skills and we offer a mentoring programme as well as a Group Treasury graduate scheme that was launched last year.