FINDING YOUR NICHE
Treasury management systems and cash management projects can require expert implementation. With her background as a project manager, Zarna Banerjee spoke to us about how utilising her skills in the corporate treasury world has allowed her to find her niche and provide expertise as CEO of her own project management consultancy. Zarna also happens to be in one of the first cohorts to study the new Certificate in Treasury!
What does your current role entail?
I’ve spent the last five years in corporate treasury, working with two different clients in my role as CEO of Zen Squared, a programme and project management consultancy. One client is in commodities mining and the other in oil services, where I’ve been managing global cash management projects and implementing treasury management systems.
The projects involved working with the Group Treasurer, presenting to a Steering Committee comprising the CFO and other Exec members, and ran the full project life cycle, from analysis of requirements and preparation of an RFP, to an objective evaluation of responses and supplier selection. I’m currently rolling out the new bank(s) globally, extending and finalising cash pooling structures and bedding in the TMS.
How did you find your way into a treasury function?
My arrival within a corporate treasury environment was a result of an ex-colleague and group treasurer needing an experienced project manager to deliver a global cash management project at considerable speed. While promising me technical support, to allow me to focus on delivery, it quickly transpired that other treasury demands of the company required his exclusive attention, leaving me to cope with a subject area that I was unfamiliar with, and dealing with a significant number of relationship banks, each vying for his attention for the award of this business.
However, I’m a project manager with nearly 30 years of experience in various industries, from consultancy with KPMG in London and Paris, business analysis and project delivery in CLS to eventually working for myself. My work since has ranged widely, from delivering offset mortgage products and wealth solutions in banks to online video-on-demand services, from niche telco offerings to process and system improvements in an internet company. With a Prince II qualification, my focus has inevitably been on change and transformations.
I was, therefore, used to being thrown in at the deep end, coming to grips rapidly with new environments; with the helpful advice from a friendly banker, some strategic pointers from the group treasurer, extensive reading and a lot of questions, I gained expertise and subject matter knowledge.
I was, however, coming to the conclusion, that my Natural Sciences background had ill-equipped me for an ongoing role in the finance departments of these large corporations. During a period of personnel changes at one of my clients, I was asked to step in to monitor and report against the company’s covenants, and my subsequent participation in Internal Audit reviews indicated to me that I needed a deeper understanding of the key drivers for the activities within treasury. I decided to get qualified with the ACT, was amazed at the breadth of material covered, and signed up.
How is your treasury qualification beneficial to you?
Studying an ACT qualification was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Not only did I find the course content stimulating, but I realised once again how much I enjoyed active studying. The knowledge I gained is already allowing me to deliver projects within the treasury and finance arena more effectively, allowing me to anticipate requirements, ask the right questions more proactively and, I think, manage my teams more empathetically. I’m looking forward to the next challenge both in my studies (I’m currently signed up for the Certificate in Treasury), and my next project!
How was your learning experience with the ACT?
Multiple clients and a high-pressure project-driven workload meant that I didn’t have time to attend revision classes, but instead I invested my own time completing practice papers and sample questions. The papers and questions provided by the ACT were thorough and covered the course material effectively. I was thus able to consolidate and put structure around what I had gleaned from the readings.
Ask the tutors questions if you’re unsure; their responses were generally clear on issues raised on the student site, often providing a lot more depth on these compared to what is available in the readings.
CertT is proving more interesting, as this is being examined differently and the course content has been prepared for the first batch of students. The readings are clear, and there are plenty of sample questions. I’m looking forward to the next step in my journey of learning!