My Life in Treasury
Pascaline Caron, Group Treasurer, CNIM
Pascaline will be familiar to many readers of TMI as one of the acclaimed ‘Future Leaders’ at the EACT Summit earlier this year: younger treasurers who are already making a significant impact on the profession. In this feature, she describes her career so far and shares some of her professional experiences.
How did you come into treasury and what attracted you to the profession?
Unlike many people, I was already very familiar with treasury and its responsibilities when I was making my career choices, as my father was VP, Treasury for a CAC40 company. Like him, I was attracted to the breadth and diversity of the role, and I was keen to pursue a career that delivered a demonstrable service to the company. During my gap year, I got an internship at Alstom in the UK as treasury assistant, but after leaving university, I initially decided to build some experience in banking. I soon realised, however, that I preferred the corporate environment, and made the decision to join Alstom, initially in bonds and guarantees, and developed my career from there.
How did your career progress through to the role that you hold today?
I spent around eight years at Alstom, and effectively built my own graduate programme by building a broad range of experience across cash management, bonds and guarantees, FX analysis, treasury accounting, funding etc. My aim was to become an expert in treasury as a whole, as opposed to one particular element of it. This enabled me to take on the role I currently hold as group treasurer of CNIM, as although the company is smaller, I have a wide range of responsibilities. I also liked the fact that the ‘DNA’ of CNIM is similar to Alstom, although the industries in which they operate are different, as both have an engineering focus and deliver long-term contracts.
How have demands and needs in terms of treasury changed over the course of your career, and what particular skills does it now require?
Treasury is becoming more accepted as a partner to the business, so the treasury function is less isolated than in the past. In our business, treasury is now engaged before the business embarks on new projects and initiatives, rather than afterwards, so our involvement, and the value we can add, is far greater. Sales teams now only send commercial proposals to customers following consultation with treasury, rather than after the contract has been awarded, so we can assess the implications in terms of guarantees, FX risk etc. upfront and help to structure contracts appropriately. While this makes the role of treasury more challenging, it is also more interesting. Less interesting is that treasury is spending an increasing amount of time on regulatory compliance issues, and at times, it is difficult to see the value this adds.
There are other changes too in the treasury profession and its role within the organisation, as we discussed during the panel session at the EACT Summit. For example, digitisation and automation is transforming treasury processes and decision-making, but needs to be balanced against changing cyber threats and risk of fraud. This changing technology and risk landscape means that treasurers need to develop a new mind set to embrace new opportunities and ways of thinking and working without compromising overall treasury objectives.