As a treasury business partner working in Group Treasury for Travelopia, Shankar Ramaswamy, MBA, CTP, covers a lot of ground. The experiential travel company he works for operates in over 130 source markets and 150 destinations across all continents.
Travelopia handles all aspects of travel, whether it’s booking flight tickets and hotels or arranging sightseeing experiences. The company is headquartered in the U.K. but has team members around the world, including Shankar, who is based in India.
Shankar reports to the head of treasury, who is based in the U.K., and supervises cash at the group level. His role involves oversight of cash flow and cash liquidity management for the entire company, and management of banking, debt facilities and the foreign exchange (FX) trading program.
In addition, Shankar works with the various business units to ensure they’re funded. This has posed more of a challenge over the past couple years due to the impact of COVID on the travel industry.
A GLOBAL CENTRALIZED TREASURY
As Travelopia is based in the U.K., its functional currency is the pound sterling. While the company works in multiple regions, its treasury is largely centralized. When it comes to the group level, Shankar explained, “We cover the entire standard of the treasury across the globe.”
That being said, individual business units at Travelopia also have their own treasury departments. These departments perform more basic tasks focused on payments and take input from the group level in terms of limits.
TMS AND BANK RELATIONSHIPS
Travelopia uses a treasury management system (TMS) called Integrity and maintains fairly extensive bank relationships — 8 to 10 across the group level and individual business units.
“We have to adapt our internal management systems and internal reporting formats effectively,” Shankar said, noting that the reporting formats and statements are automatically linked to the company’s SFTP (secured file transfer protocol) through its TMS.
MEETING HIGH CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS
In his role, Shankar also drives new initiatives to incorporate the latest technologies into treasury activities. His goal: “a seamless treasury experience.”
Expectations from internal customers are high, especially around payments. However, in the post-Brexit era, payments between the U.K. and E.U. have become more complicated.
“Some of our customers across Europe are not getting the full amount,” Shankar said. “So, we are facing challenges in terms of smooth payment, or transmission from our account to our vendors and ensuring they’re satisfied.”
To address this challenge, the company has worked on implementing a global wallet platform, which acts as if the company is in a local country account.
THE VALUE OF SHARING KNOWLEDGE
Shankar is looking forward to learning from the best practices and experiences of colleagues from around the world as he serves as a member of the AFP APAC Treasury Advisory Council (TAC). He described treasury as being a collaborative role: “The knowledge is being transferred and shared. That’s how we move up the ladder.”
ADD THIS TO YOUR MUST-READ LIST
As part of our profiles on the APAC TAC, we’re asking each person to name a book they’ve read recently and would recommend. Shankar’s pick was “Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics” by Tim Marshall. While the book may not be directly linked to treasury, he described it as an “eye-opener” into how the economy and businesses work. He found the book also helped him better understand the conflict in Ukraine.
Interested in more AFP articles and profiles tailored to treasury in Asia-Pacific? Read more here.