When James Kelly is recruiting for his team, he looks for people who can “defend against risk, control the agenda and pounce on opportunities.” And his top tip for new finance professionals is to capitalise on their fresh perspective. “Be demanding,” he advises. “Plenty of bad processes survive simply because they aren’t challenged.”
How did you come into treasury and what attracted you to the profession?
I love problem solving, working with numbers and variety, and treasury offers me a good mix of these. I started in treasury after being asked to help with the accounting for Kingfisher plc’s derivative portfolio and found it really interesting. So, when a role came up in the treasury accounting team at Kingfisher, I was excited about moving from my consolidation accountancy role to take on a new challenge.
I was incredibly lucky in that my first role involved being part of a team that spent so much time coaching and developing people. Nick Feaviour (now Treasurer of CEVA logistics) made Group Treasurer in his early 30s and gave me the confidence that age need not be a barrier to progressing to the top jobs in treasury. He also helped me focus on the skills and behaviours I would need to progress.
Lynda Heywood (now at Tesco) taught me so much technically, from modelling how to handle projects successfully, managing time and the technical aspects of bonds and swaps.