In the 2012 TMI Awards for Excellence and Innovation, GSK was the winner of the corporate award for Cash Management. In this feature, Sarah-Jane Chilver-Stainer, Senior Vice President and Group Treasurer of GSK, talks about her career so far and shares some insights on pursuing a career in treasury.
How did you first get into treasury, and what attracted you to the profession?
Like many people, I didn’t know what career direction I wanted to follow when I left university. I travelled, sailed across the Atlantic, worked in Antigua and then spent a year working in Australia as a photographer. After two years away, I came back to the UK and decided to take on temporary roles to gain experience of different professions. One of these roles was to work for a company in London that had been recently established to securitise UK residential mortgages. I became involved with the company and liked the entrepreneurial working environment. When I was offered a full-time position, I took it on the condition that I would work in their treasury department. In particular, I was attracted to treasury as I have a maths bias, but I also saw it as a dynamic profession that offered the ability to add value to an organisation.
How did your career progress to the role you hold now at GSK?
Having made the decision to join treasury, I was determined that I would develop this opportunity into a career, so I signed up for the AMCT and then MCT qualifications with the Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT) in the UK. While it was not easy to combine full-time work with the study required over a three year period, I recognised the importance of a professional qualification to support my career progression.
In 1995, I decided to move on from my first company to develop more international experience. I became the Treasury Manager at SmithKline Beecham, and later an Assistant Treasurer. These roles gave me insights into a number of different areas of treasury including international cash management, funding and investment. In 2000, I went on maternity leave just before the merger of SmithKline Beecham with Glaxo Wellcome to form GSK. When I returned to work, I was appointed Deputy Treasurer of GSK and Group Treasurer shortly afterwards in 2001. Since then, the treasury function at GSK has changed and expanded dramatically, which has given me great career development. I am a member of the Finance Leadership Team at GSK and in 2011 I re-organised my team, assumed responsibility for GSK’s insurance operations and set up a pensions risk management team.