Irene Atkins, Head of Global Treasury, Specsavers
This month, Helen Sanders, Editor, talks to Irene Atkins, Head of Global Treasury at leading optical and hearcare company, Specsavers, based in Guernsey. In this feature, Irene shares her thoughts on the importance of personal and professional development, and the power of positive thinking, derived from a career that has spanned 35 countries and an enormous diversity of treasury activities.
How did you first get into treasury, and what attracted you to the profession?
Like many people, my treasury career started largely by accident. Initially,Â I was a trainee accountant for Grand Metropolitan plc (now Diageo following the merger with Guinness plc in 1997), involved with tasks such as accounts payable, receivables, bank reconciliations etc. with the view that I would pursue a career in accountancy. This experience proved very valuable later on in life when I became involved in setting up shared service centres, as I had a working knowledge of the tasks to be performed.
When I decided to make my next career move, I was offered two jobs at the same time: one accounting role, and one in treasury accounting. The treasury accounting role was in a more convenient location, so I opted for this position, but I quickly realised that my approach and attitude were very well-suited to treasury. While accounting is very valuable to every organisation, I liked the fact that treasury was at the sharp end of the company, making decisions on cash and risk that add significant value to a business.