With an uncanny knack of turning negatives into positives, Albert Hollema explains how he has drawn on past experiences to further develop his treasury career. He also shares his best advice for rising up through the treasury ranks – and as former Chairman of the Dutch ACT, he’s certainly in the know.
How did you come into treasury and what attracted you to the profession?
When I was enrolling for my economics master course at university, there was a choice between following a treasury route or an accountancy path. My friends were keen to go into accounting, but I wanted to try something different. The concept of corporate treasury was pretty new at the time in Europe, so it seemed exciting. Treasury is also much more forward-looking, and about driving future value, not just reporting on what has happened in the past. I’d also read a magazine article that said that a trainee accountant could progress to become Chief Accountant, but a treasurer could become CFO one day. That made treasury an even more appealing career choice.
How did your career progress through to the role that you hold today?
I’ve held quite a few roles over the years, so you will be sorry you asked! I was lucky to have a great start to my career at Royal Dutch Paper Mills as assistant treasurer, which was a new position. I was heavily involved in the development of the corporate finance and treasury department there, which gave me a good grounding for the rest of my career.
After three and a half years, I moved to an investment firm called Robeco. My main role was to look after the cash and liquidity, foreign exchange (FX), and investment positions of the various investment funds of the group. Because it was an investment firm, I was working with people who knew the financial markets inside out, so it was a great opportunity to learn first-hand how the capital markets, money markets, and FX markets really work.