Treasury Snapshot: An interview with Fred Schacknies, SVP & Treasurer, Hilton



Part of our Treasury Snapshot series: a collection of quickfire interviews with corporate treasurers.


What is top of your treasury to-do list right now and why?

Over the last several years, Hilton has undergone several transformational steps including an Initial Public Offering and the spin-offs of Hilton Grand Vacations and Park Hotels & Resorts. Throughout this transformation, we have been building a box of treasury tools through investments in people, process and technology. Those are the three legs of the stool upon which all improvement sits; to grow the organization all three must develop in tandem. With those corporate milestones behind us, we need to deploy these tools to better support the company's plans for global growth and disciplined capital allocation. To that end, top on my list are enhancements to our existing capabilities for managing financial risk and liquidity, rationalizing our global banking portfolio and modernizing our enterprise-wide payments architecture.


What achievement are you most proud of during your treasury career so far?

Completing major projects and receiving accolades can be gratifying, but the proudest achievements in my career have been those moments when I realize that my team can execute a project successfully without me, and often better! Those moments happen inauspiciously and incrementally, so they can be easy to miss. But when they happen, you know a torch is being passed to the next cohort of managers and leaders. And that's something to be proud of!


Is there one tool (apart from a crystal ball) that would make your job that bit easier?

Uncertainty comes with the territory in finance, so a crystal ball would not be much fun. But, improved technology would certainly help. We all know better solutions are possible for tasks both mundane and complex. It would be great to introduce in our treasury world the same types of innovative and engaging solutions we see creeping into our everyday lives, imagine being able to ask, “Alexa, what's my EUR position?”


What is the best piece of career and/or life advice you've ever been given?

First, I would recommend to someone early in their career to experience as many different roles and modes of thinking, in different types of organizations and work locations as possible. Developing technical skills is important, but the ability to complement a diversity of people and challenges is key in the development of any future leader. Second, foster relationships with mentors. To supplement your diverse life experiences, take advantage of those who can share lessons already learned.


When you're not working, how do you like to spend your time?

Spending time with my wife and three kids is always a priority. As my children grow up, I realize how precious every step is along the way. One of the most precious moments was when they were old enough to stay home alone so my wife and I could go out to dinner!  I also enjoy photography. It's a great way to focus my brain on multi-disciplinary learning because it draws on both art and science. And it forces me to look up and pay attention to the world around me!