A day in the life of a global treasurer

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We spoke to Simon Neville, about his successful career at the top of the treasury industry.

Simon recently finished assignments for some of the worlds largest global organisations, which included a Treasury Director role at Tesco's.

Find out more about Simon's career below and what it takes to make it as a treasury professional.

Describe a day in the life in your role

My most recent assignment was as Global Treasurer for CEVA, a private equity backed and highly leveraged international logistics group with revenues of €7bn.

At CEVA I worked on a major debt for equity exchange, a couple of bond refinancings, and several working capital management issues, while also doing the day job of managing the operational treasury function for a large complex group with regional teams in Amsterdam, Singapore and Houston. Prior to this I was interim Treasury Director for 18 months at Tesco.

In my experience, a typical Group Treasurer’s day tends to split down into operational treasury management and the related “live” decisions that need to be made, along with more structured tasks such as developing the team, improving systems, reports and controls or meetings with the treasury, tax and other finance and commercial teams, banks and credit rating agencies. 

What’s it like working as a contractor and how long does each contract typically last?

A sense of humour helps as as treasurer you are very much in the public firing line of corporate activity...

At the level I operate there has so far been the requirement to fully commit for at least an initial 6 month period. The key advantage of working across several interim roles and industries is that you get to test your skills in challenging situations that may also require immediate actions to be taken. 

What skills are required in your role?

It is often the case that you will be helping a team manage through a period of transition or change. To do that effectively you have to know what you’re doing, keep focused and execute to a high standard.

What do you see as the main advantages of contracting?

I’d probably say flexibility, but the opposite side to that coin is of course less certainty. 

How did you get to where you are today?

I started off as an accountant and moved into the field of treasury while at Sainsbury’s. Then after three years leading TOTAL’s UK treasury function, I was lucky enough to be offered a role in Hong Kong as Group Treasurer with Jardine Matheson and subsequently moved to Australia as CFO of their A$4 billion retail arm before returning to the UK after the Sydney Olympics. In 2002 I joined a former Jardine CFO at Prebon (a global inter dealer broker) and in 2008 moved into private equity. Since 2010 I have worked on senior level contracts, and I am also a non-executive Director at Affinity Sutton, a residential housing group with £1+ billion of property under management.

Who would be suited to interim roles?

You need to be experienced, professional, and resilient as you are often either filling a void or going into a difficult corporate situation where rapid actions may be required.

What advice would you give to candidates looking for a career at a top level?

It’s important to have a 'complete set of tools'. By that I mean strong technical skills, most likely gained through the examinations of the ACT and the professional accountancy bodies, and refreshed with adequate CPD, good interpersonal skills so you effectively represent the company you work for, and experience in different industries and with a wide range of treasury products (i.e. cash and working capital management, leasing, derivatives, bank and bond debt, insurance, equity, bank and credit rating relationship management).

Finally, a sense of humour helps  - as a treasurer you are very much in the public firing line of corporate activity, be it a bond issue, refinancing, acquisition or just being prepared for the next crisis!

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