Corporate Recognition Award for Treasurer of the Year
Many readers have commented on the series of interviews that TMI has conducted this year with Peter van Rood, Group Treasurer, AkzoNobel and his colleagues. In 2007, Peter van Rood was tasked to transform the company’s treasury function entirely, turning it from an execution centre, focused on routine, repetitive tasks to a strategic centre that was best-in-class in its industry. This coincided with some of the most significant events in the life of the company in recent years, with 60% of the company’s debt maturing between April 2008 and March 2009, the peak of the financial crisis, and the acquisition of ICI.
Since then, every aspect of treasury has seen radical change and enhancement. The company has rationalised its banking partners, devised new policies and procedures, implemented new technology, enhanced its cash and working capital framework, secured financing at the peak of the crisis, and is well-respected as a leading force in the treasury profession. This success is directly attributable to Peter van Rood, the excellent team that he has appointed, and their key banking partners, including ING, and suppliers. As Peter van Rood confirms,
“Transforming each of these areas has required considerable support from treasury staff, our key banks and other business partners”.
While this is the first time we have given an award for the Treasury Team of the Year, the efforts of Peter and his team have been truly impressive, and we are delighted to have featured their accomplishments in TMI.
Corporate Recognition Award for Innovation and Excellence in Treasury Technology
This year’s Award is given to Caterpillar, following Martin Bina’s article ‘Simplicity, Standardisation and Security with SWIFT’ that appeared in the TMI 2010 SWIFT Connectivity Guide. Caterpillar recognised that the launch of SCORE (Standardised Corporate Environment) would enhance the value proposition for SWIFT, and enable the company to achieve its technology and bank communication objectives. Caterpillar has a very strong relationship with its primary bank, and with its TMS vendor, which it also appointed as its SWIFT service bureau. These relationships have proved vital in enabling the company to implement SWIFT successfully, and to address the challenges that invariably materialise in a project of this scale and complexity. For example, as Martin explains, “We found ourselves at the forefront of ISO 20022 adoption without necessarily expecting this.”
He also emphasises, “SWIFTNet is commonly described as the most reliable network in the world, but a payments or cash management process is only as reliable as the weakest link in the overall cycle. With a variety of internal processes and systems, as well as SWIFTNet, attention needs to be given to increasing the resilience of the whole process as opposed to simply focusing on individual elements or relying on the final step.”
Corporate Recognition Award for Innovation and Excellence in Risk Management
Maciej Müldner, Treasurer of Skanska Poland, first described the company’s approach to managing risk during the crisis in TMI edition 171, back in 2009. A year later (TMI, 190), he reviewed his strategy and its outcomes. Like many other companies, Skanska has taken a multi-faceted approach to risk, with a particular emphasis on comprehensive operational risk assessments for each project, including financial risks. The project manager is responsible for all aspects of project delivery, so there is a strong connection between the business and finance throughout. Skanska extended its focus on counterparty risk during the crisis, both customers and suppliers. For example, the company has a close and proactive relationship with its suppliers, and a disciplined approach to identifying and managing supplier risk, which has been successful in avoiding any negative impact resulting from supplier failures. What is clear from Skanska’s experience is that a combined approach to business risk and financial risk can be very positive, and ensures that all employees’ objectives are aligned. As Maciej Müldner outlines,
“For Skanska, a major achievement in recent times has been the strengthening of the relationship between treasury and the business as a whole. Each business function now understands what treasury does, the financial needs of the company and how each department can help to mitigate risk and further our financial objectives.”