What do you suppose the odds are of meeting a treasurer with a degree in Oriental Studies? That is how Dorella Montanari’s journey began. “My education and professional journey are a bit unconventional,” she said.
When Dorella entered the job market in the late 1980s, her undergraduate degree was leading her exactly nowhere, so she decided to go for a certificate in small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) management. With this addition, she was hired to be part of the credit evaluation team of a private consortium that granted guarantees to SMEs requiring short-term bank loans.
Italians in Hong Kong
In the early 2000s, Dorella moved to China to utilize her undergraduate degree and took a management position with Sampla Belting Foshan. From there she moved up to General Manager with Dongguan Cogne Steel Products, then to CFO with Megadyne Asia Pacific HK, the Italian company she would stay with for 14 years. Dorella was most recently based in Hong Kong as the APAC M&A and Post-merge Integration Director of the AMMEGA Group for Megadyne.
When Dorella moved to China, she was working in unstructured treasury departments. “All the key treasury operations and strategical decisions in China and APAC were suggested and implemented under my responsibility with local administrative support,” she said.
China has been the center of APAC interests for years, making strong and continuous communication between Dorella and headquarters, as well as the sharing of analysis and development plans in China, crucial. She shared that she had to be creative at times when navigating through different legislations in APAC countries and the various legal entities of the Group. For example, finding “workable, cash pooling-like solutions” or spending a lot of time with the sales team changing local commercial credit practices in order to improve collection and reduce cash floating.
While with Megadyne, the company realized its dream of transforming into a multi-national company (MNC) by organic and inorganic growth. “Treasury started to become a proper and modernly organized department,” said Dorella. There was a better segregation of duties, enhancement of digitalization, and accurate preparation of the daily cash position and weekly/monthly cash forecast.
Before control of the Megadyne Group was passed to Venture Capital, Dorella said the treasury-pursued model was a two-step centralized treasury: first by regions (EMEA, APAC, Americas) with regional holdings, and second a Group holding. “This model was suitable for supporting regional growth with regional funds,” she said. “At that time, I was asked to reposition in Hong Kong to follow treasury activities not only among Chinese subsidiaries but also in India and Thailand’s invested companies.”
Fast-forward to today
Today, Dorella is enjoying the freedom of self-employment as a Business Development Management Specialist. In this role, she checks foreign exchange trends of the businesses she serves to help taking intercompany payment decisions. She also seeks to control deviations between forecasted and actual cash flow of the regional subsidiaries and identify solutions as needed. It’s also important that the correctness of available data in the system is verified.
In this specialized role where she continues to work with multinational groups, Dorella said the ability to navigate cross-cultural communications is very useful, particularly when it comes to helping with cultural changes, “even in treasury management and implementing cash concentration policies.”
When it comes to resistance to change, Dorella said she finds that it’s people’s diffidence and fear of being left behind within the group — at the advantage of other units (even in the same country) when it comes to funds allocations — can be a substantial factor.
Uncertainty of the economic environment
Dorella is far from alone in her reply to the biggest challenge she’s facing today. “The uncertainty of the economic environment in many areas of the world increases the risks of insufficient cash flow generated by operations for many companies,” she said. “If we also add the increased risk in the financial market, it is not easy to both provide financial support for development projects and safeguard capital investments.”
How does she approach this challenge? By accurately identifying the company’s needs as it relates to amounts and timing, both of which are critically important for treasury in troubled times. Accuracy is also important, which Dorella said can be achieved through closer internal communication with other departments. She also advises that companies evaluate business risks over the entirety of the company, and openly declare the company’s objectives as opposed to instructing on the possible scenarios that could occur over the course of a year.
Helping companies to adopt technology
In the near future, Dorella would like to update her IT skills in regard to the new solutions available to treasury. “Some of them can increase visibility and reduce the cost of operations in managing treasury,” she said.
Regarding her future career plans, she would like to work in a role supporting improvements in automation solutions for treasury and the enhancement of the TMS working environment. “I’ve seen very basic implementations of treasury management software, sometimes not even really integrated with ERP, that generated a redundancy of transactions instead of an increase of efficiency and precision,” she said. “There are a lot of companies in the market that are struggling to adopt technologies; I would be interested in partaking such a role.”
The CTP was a good investment
In the course of her professional journey in the APAC region, Dorella learned, mainly on the job, how to find viable and safe treasury solutions for facilitating the concentration of cash and financial resources to redistribute within subsidiaries. “Always in compliance with different countries’ regulations,” she said. But she wanted more — “more theoretical knowledge to consolidate my experience.”
Dorella has always considered education a good investment, and the timing was right. Her contract had expired during the time of the Covid lockdowns, and she was stuck in Hong Kong. After doing some research on the programs available, “The CTP seemed like a good choice,” she said. As part of her investment, Dorella also expects that the CTP will bring her more visibility in the labor market.
The CTP is something she would recommend to others for several reasons. First, the exam preparation material is comprehensive and provides suggestions for seeking out further insights on specific topics. Second, anyone working in a large company in a specialized role will receive the exposure they need through this program to better understand the impact of their job within treasury, as well as its impact on the company as a whole. And those working in smaller companies with international exposure, will gain more tools and expand their knowledge to the point that they can help anticipate and/or neutralize potential problems and risks, as well as know who to seek out for external support.
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