A global symbol of excellence, the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) designation sets the standard in the treasury profession. Earning the CTP signifies that you have demonstrated the knowledge and skills required to effectively execute critical functions related to corporate liquidity, capital and risk management.
AFP recently caught up with Joris M. Chevaux, CTP, treasury manager for Sephora Asia, located in Singapore, to discuss his decision to earn the CTP, and how it has affected his life and career journey.
AFP: How did you get your start in treasury?
Treasury has been a progressive discovery for me. I started my career as a management consultant, working on the organizational transformation of support function projects. During my time as a consultant, I had the chance to work on a global treasury digitalization mission, and that is when I discovered that treasury was a core function of any organization, with aspects of data, processes, IT, people, innovation, relationship management, and more. The diversity of the field attracted me, and I decided to pursue a career in treasury. My first role in the field was as a treasury and finance project manager, from which I quickly moved up to the position of treasury manager, which is closer to business and treasury operations.
AFP: What are two or three core aspects of your day-to-day job?
What I love about treasury is the fact that every day is different and brings new challenges and continuous opportunities to learn and grow, so telling you how my day-to-day job is could be a long story. There are obviously some foundations of cash management that are critical such as daily cash positioning to ensure sufficient funding of all the entities I’m responsible for, tracking ongoing cash performance, developing FX and credit risk policies, and so on. Most of those tasks are somewhat automated, which allows me to dedicate more time to collaborating with other departments and building strong partnerships within the organization. The treasury team for Sephora Asia is very lean, so I have to roll up my sleeves and get involved in many different projects. As such, I am involved in our customer experience transformation, the payment/collection advisor, intercompany funding implementation, and fraud detection and prevention.
AFP: What is something that you would like to do in the future in treasury?
In a nutshell, I would really like to be a treasury career ambassador. The treasury function is still not very well known. I would love to contribute to enlarging the treasury community around the world and helping to increase interest in treasury careers to attract top talent. This can be done by bringing more visibility to careers in treasury, being part of treasury communities, and creating bonds with fintech to rethink the future of treasury skills.
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AFP: Are there certain skills or training that help you in what you do now?
Adaptability. You have to be able to adapt to work in treasury. Ours is an ever-moving environment, with so many innovations and uncertainty; being able to adapt quickly and embrace change is a key competence to develop. In addition, as treasury is more and more exposed to technology, relationship management and communication skills are becoming critical to success. These skills are necessary to build successful internal and external partnerships and to collaborate with different stakeholders.
In addition, obviously analytical skills are necessary for a treasury professional. Our function is increasingly relying on data, so I believe that we need to be able to manage data in multiple ways; in that sense, understanding technology will become more and more essential. And core treasury skills such as FX, cash management and financial markets will always be crucial.
AFP: What is the most critical treasury issue you are facing today?
The Sephora SEA treasury team must find ways of optimizing and automating as much as possible all of our time-consuming, mundane tasks (e.g., daily cash positions, daily cash performance, reconciliation), so that we can allocate more time to building strategic partnerships throughout the organization, especially with our supply chain and demand team. Why is that? Because working capital is the main cash performance driver for us as a multi-brand retailer. As such, understanding our inventory flows, and being able to provide informed insights to the supply chain and business teams related to the inventory purchase/cash cycle and its impact on our liquidity are key to our success.
AFP: Can you share your approach to this issue?
Sharing and being transparent are key success factors when approaching any issue, which is why I always try to include everyone involved in a particular topic from the beginning, should those teams or individuals be directly or indirectly involved. This helps me ensure that we take into consideration all aspects of a specific issue. In the example of optimizing our working capital cycles, an easy way to include others would be for finance/treasury to set some stretched days of inventory (DOI) targets for the supply chain team based on working capital metrics and objectives. However, would that take into consideration some key business considerations such as our sales seasonality, logistics constraints or power of negotiation with some of our suppliers? Definitely not. Such an approach could actually damage the overall business more than it could be beneficial. That is why it’s key to get the whole organization to work towards the same goal. We always learn and grow better together.
AFP: Why did you decide to earn the CTP?
I did not study finance or treasury specifically, instead, I have progressively learned by doing and practicing throughout my career. At times, I have been affected by imposter syndrome, wondering “Am I legitimately able to hold this critical position without any theoretical knowledge about treasury? Am I missing something that would allow me to make a fully informed decision?” Therefore, I decided to take on the CTP in order to gain some theoretical knowledge and key best practices about treasury/cash management and to feel more confident when facing my peers in the treasury industry.
AFP: How has the CTP credential impacted your life/career?
The CTP has been a long journey. As I decided not to take the course or to use the learning platform, I had to study by myself. I did not want this experience to be a simple “academic” learning; I wanted it to be meaningful and relatable to my career. Hence, I always compared the concept presented in the CTP handbook to my day-to-day work and past experiences by asking myself, “Have I ever faced this topic or issue?” It has allowed me to transform the learning experience into a case study, applied to my past experiences and current job, which made the study process much smoother than simply learning a lot of concepts, formulas and theories without any professional context. In the end, the CTP study process really opened my eyes and helped me to connect the dots between what I have been doing for the past five years — what does the literature say? ‘Bridge the gap between the two in order to understand why we are making some decisions differently, depending on our own context.’ Overall, the CTP greatly enhances your knowledge about treasury by providing you with a set of tools and concepts that can be applied to any organization. Since completing the CTP, my thinking has changed. I now know there is no black or white decision in treasury, which is a significant shift in my mindset.
AFP: Would you recommend the CTP to others? Why?
Absolutely! While there are many accreditations and certifications in treasury on the market, the CTP is a very practical and down-to-earth certification that relates directly to any treasury professional. On top of that, as part of AFP, you are exposed to a lot of valuable content that encourages you to constantly learn and grow, plus you have the opportunity to network and meet your peers!
Learn more about the Certified Treasury Professional (CTP) designation.