My Life in Treasury
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My Life in Treasury: Helen Sanders, TMI

This edition marks my final one as Editor of TMI after nearly 12 remarkable years, so I thought I’d use the opportunity to share a few thoughts based on my own life in treasury and beyond.

How did you come into treasury and what attracted you to the profession?

Like almost every treasurer featured in these pages, I came to treasury by accident. I had been in academia previously, as I am a classicist by background, but on returning from an overseas teaching post just before the summer holidays, I joined the tax department of a technology company. I needed to move to London to complete my studies, so I applied for a treasury role at an oil exploration and production company. I remember asking the company secretary of my previous employer what treasury did, to which he replied, “Not much, it’s very narrow, you’ll hate it.”

Fortunately, his analysis was wide of the mark, and I joined treasury at a very exciting time. The treasury department I worked for was very innovative (although I didn’t necessarily recognise it at the time!). Almost uniquely, we had a treasury management system: a proprietary system developed at phenomenal cost some years earlier, together with a plethora of manual processes, whiteboards, A3 daily cash position sheets, fax and telex. I was tasked to work with the system provider to manage the system. I soon realised that this was a proverbial money pit, but with no flexibility to improve our processes or reporting. I researched the market for treasury management systems, which was extremely limited at that time, developed the business case, and led the selection and implementation of a new system, which launched the next step in my treasury career.

How did your career progress through to the role that you hold today?

I found the opportunity to use technology, and adopt new ideas to deliver value in treasury very motivating, and this was really the period in which treasury management systems first developed. We were only the second company in Europe to implement GIS’ Quantum solution, now part of FIS, and I loved it. When the opportunity to join GIS came up in 1996, joining a team of only five, I jumped at it. Then followed seven very happy years, during a wonderful period in the development of the company. During that time, I inevitably did a bit of everything but ultimately found my niche in sales and marketing, and once we were acquired by SunGard in 2000, I managed the sales and marketing function for corporates in Europe.