My Life in Treasury
José Carlos Cuevas de Miguel, Senior Treasury Staff Manager, GE Capital
In addition to his successful career in corporate treasury, José Carlos Cuevas is also well known in his role as Vice President of the Spanish Finance Association (ASSET) and Member of the Board at the European Finance Association (EACT), sharing good practices and representing corporate treasurers’ interests with regulators in both Spain and Brussels.
How did you come into treasury and what attracted you to the profession?
I originally started my career working for the audit firm Coopers & Lybrand (that has since evolved into PwC). In Spain, we don’t have a well-established treasury métier in the way that countries such as the UK and France do, so treasurers typically come from an audit or accounting background, or in the case of smaller companies, the finance director will fulfill this role. This also reflects my career: following roles in accounting and tax for Banque PSA, I moved into treasury in 2001 as the bank’s head of treasury and accounting for Spain and Portugal before ultimately pursuing a career in corporate treasury.
How did your career progress through to the role that you hold today?
In 2006, I moved from the bank to become treasury director for Alstom in Spain and Portugal, which included acting as deputy finance director, managing acquisitions and implementing a new treasury management system. As Spain was one of Alstom’s largest markets, this was an exciting opportunity, and allowed me to explore a wide range of issues and take on a variety of ancillary roles, such as ethics and compliance ambassador.
In 2010, I was asked to conduct a treasury organisation review, which recommended implementing a regional treasury structure, approved by the CFO in 2011. Following this approval, I became Regional Treasurer for Europe, with 25 direct reports in 10 countries, covering 30 countries and around 230 legal entities. This included acting as finance director for eight countries and a business partner in bidding and project control. During the five years I spent in this role, we undertook a wide range of projects, including a cash pool across 14 countries, projects in FX risk management and hedge accounting, and negotiating our bank and insurance company relationships across the region, covering more than 20 banks and about 1,500 bank accounts. I also acted as SEPA project leader and supported the creation of the finance shared service centre.
Following GE’s acquisition of Alstom in 2015, I had the opportunity to stay with the far smaller Alstom business or move to GE. GE is a very different business to Alstom, with a far less mature European heritage. I was tasked by GE to run the global integration of Alstom energy business into GE, covering 30 countries. Earlier this year, I became part of the working group to shape a new industrial finance function at GE Europe as part of a GE Capital team.
As well as pursuing my career in industry, I joined the national treasury and finance association in Spain, ASSET, and became the EACT representative for ASSET, representing corporations either headquartered or operating in Spain, a position I have fulfilled since 2002. There is an interesting cultural difference between treasurers in Spain and countries such as Italy, where treasurers are far more engaged in driving the treasury agenda. Treasurers in Spain are far less likely to be proactive in representing the profession on the front line with regulators and industry bodies.