The Russian debt crisis of 1998, the dot-com bubble and then the global financial crash didn’t faze Paul Byrne. In fact, he describes 2008 as a ‘fantastic time’ to be in treasury, with all the challenges it brought alongside the opportunities to rebuild businesses and restructure systems. His survival kit includes a can-do attitude, the ability to think strategically, knowing when to take or leave advice – and a pile of good books to read on the road.
How did you come into treasury and what attracted you to the profession?
After qualifying as an accountant, I quickly realised it wasn’t something that I was particularly interested in doing for the rest of my career. At that time, I was working as a financial controller for Citi and began to gravitate towards the trading floor. I became much more interested in the mechanics of funding the bank and less about debits and credits. I was hooked from that point. I knew I wanted to fund the balance sheet and to manage capital and liquidity, hence the move into treasury.
I have been fortunate to have worked for Citi, SEB, Merrill Lynch (where I was treasurer of their banks throughout the global financial crisis), AIG and PTSB (an Irish bank that failed the European Central Bank [ECB] 2014 stress test, which I got to re-IPO and QBE). These firms gave me the opportunity initially to work on individual transactions, including debt deals, equity raising, balance sheet restructuring, crisis management, deleveraging or M&A, which, over time, became a body of work and experience that has enabled me to continue enjoying what I love to do!
Over time, my roles became more geared towards enterprise level and strategic in nature, enabling me to truly make an impact on the business.