Owning Your Career Success in Treasury
Ernie Humphrey, COO, TreasuryJobs.com
Over the past 15 years I have watched the Treasury function transform from a back-office afterthought to a core, strategic business function. I have had a front row seat as a treasury practitioner at a fast growing global motor manufacturer, a senior leader at the Association of Financial Professional during the greatest financial crisis since the stock market crash of 1929, and in developing, marketing, and/or speaking on over 400 educational events (webinars, seminars, national and regional conferences) and publishing over 150 blogs and articles all focused on impacting the job performance of financial professionals. I have struggled to manage my own career in Treasury and have devoted a meaningful part of my professional life to helping others succeed in the area of corporate finance.
I wanted to share 10 key lessons learned from my perspective, which I believe is truly unique in the world of Treasury:
- Listen. This is the skill that is not taught, and that is a shame. The most successful people I have ever met listen more than they talk. This is a skill that I struggle with myself at times.
- Own your career and actively manage it. Most companies will not develop you unless you show a commitment to developing yourself.
- Understand the skills you need to be "world class" in Treasury, identify the gaps in your current skill set, and address them. This is a constantly evolving target, and this part of what makes Treasury exciting.
- Fill as many of your skills gaps as possible without asking your employer to pay for you to do it. The world is now full of great content and resources, many of which are free. This has been a mission of mine for several years, offering great Treasury content and tools at no cost. I am pleased to currently be working with TreasuryJobs.com to develop another trusted resource for Treasury professionals.
- Understand what is going in your profession and get out in front of it. That opens doors. I decided LinkedIn was important back in 2008, and the doors it has opened for me have transformed my career. Treasury professionals, I strongly urge you to learn as much about technology and data analysis as you can, trust me, this will serve you well within and beyond the walls of your current employer.
- Be a skilled relationship builder, manager and connector of colleagues of like interests. A huge component of the value proposition of Treasury is that we understand a company inside and out, but that is useless unless you are viewed as a trusted advisor. Treasury can impact performance across the enterprise, but you need to have the relationships to do it. This means playing mediator at times and connecting people of like interest within and beyond the walls of your organization. You need to become someone that "people need to know".
- Develop and be able to communicate your professional value proposition, and make sure that it always has distinct components that set you apart from your peers.
- Develop and manage a network of professional connections that keeps on top of your game in the world of treasury and beyond. This means being a valuable connection. If you of value to your connections then they will be of value to you. Does this take effort? You bet, but you will receive more than you give.
- Own a professional brand that is strong enough to have job offers coming your way organically. You should have and manage a strong online brand that clearly conveys your professional value proposition. This can be accomplished through involvement in professional organizations. writing blogs, speaking at professional conferences, having a quality LinkedIn profile and being active on LinkedIn and in other online groups made up of your peers.
- Own your time, and not let others waste it. Learn how to effectively manage e-mails, conference calls, meetings you manage, and attend only meeting that need you. If you own you time then others will respect it. Do not be afraid to ask "Why do you need me at this meeting or on this call?"
World Class Treasury Management: A Battle Plan for Success
The entire paradigm of treasury management has changed over the past few years from a focus on back office operational efficiency to being a strategic partner across the enterprise.
This webinar recording, delivered by former Director of Treasury Services for the Association for Financial Professionals (AFP), focuses on how to stay ahead of the curve in terms of the current and emerging responsibilities in the arena of treasury, and understanding how to access the professional resources your treasury department needs to succeed in any environment.
10 Great Career Tips: A 360 Degree View
Ernie Humphrey, COO, TreasuryJobs.com
I wanted to share some great career advice that I have received from bosses, co-workers, those who have worked for me and a piece of career advice from yours truly. Great career advice can come from anywhere, at any time, from anyone. I am hoping that this blog will inspire others to share valuable career advice, and to realize how career success is fueled by learning from those on each and every rung on the corporate ladder.
Top 3 tips from Direct Reports
- Do not let your job change you are as a person. You have core values and those need to align with your work environment. If the two grow apart your career success suffers along in direct correlation with the gap of this divergence.
- Little gestures of gratitude go a long way. You may not give us a big raise, but anything shows you care, and a thank you at each and every turn does wonders for morale and productivity.
- Value each employee as a person. In order to get the most out of each employee you need to know what makes them tick, and this means you need to know each one personally on some level.
Top 3 tips from Co-Workers
- Listen, listen, listen. This may just be the best career tip anyone can receive. We can all use work here. There is nothing more powerful then knowing when to remain silent, and how to inspire others to share with you information that will make you more successful in your job through effective listening. A previous employer gave offered us a one hour seminar on how to listen effectively. One of the most valuable meetings of my career.
- Do what you love and love what you do. This seems a bit “corny”, but it is great advice. Once you lose your passion for what you do your productivity, and thus career momentum, will suffer.
- Communicate negative feedback in a positive manner. There is certainly an art to offering constructive criticism. This can be as easy as “think before you hit send on that e-mail”. In corollary, each person takes criticism differently, some people need it a bit “edgier” for it to be effective, and some need the “sugary” approach.
Top 3 tips from Bosses:
- Do not work solely from your inbox. Your goal should be to gradually take on more and more ownership of your time at work.
- Do not place blame on anyone until you have the facts. At times something that may appear to be someone’s fault on the surface is often not the case. Gather the facts before any accusations are made.
- Perception is reality in terms of company politics. You need to manage how you are perceived by your co-workers as well as by me and those above you in this company. Your work can be great, but if you are perceived as unproductive or hard to work with by people within this company that can derail your career success.
My two cents
Treat everyone with whom you work with the amount of professional respect they deserve. Those who work for you should be represented as your colleagues, in that they work “with you” and not “for you”. Also, when you see anyone at your company being treated with a lack of professional respect, jump in, point it out, and make sure it does not continue. Employees are the most valuable asset of any company and promoting and practicing professional respect will yield you relationships that matter on a personal and professional level.
Cultivating Professional Relationships that Matter
Ernie Humphrey, COO, TreasuryJobs.com
I have recently had the opportunity to conduct two 5-day international training sessions. A common topic in both sessions was how to build and manage effective relationships across the enterprise. One point that I stressed was how you do really do not know much value to place on a relationship until something goes wrong. It is easy to have a pleasant relationship when everything goes well. Long-lasting, and the most valuable relationships, go through ups and downs. Those who start pointing fingers and placing blame at the first sign of perceived issues are revealing just how much they really value a relationship. Here are 5 best practices I use to help myself build valuable professional relationships:
- Realize people make mistakes. How people communicate with me after a mistake, and whether or not they own it, is what matters to me.
- Take the blame if an issue arises every so often if it helps you move forward to resolve an issue. At times I accept the blame when things are not my fault, but anyone who expects this as a general practice will lose my loyalty and respect.
- Communicate directly, not be e-mail, if an issue, perceived or real, has arisen. E-mail is a terrible way to communicate if any issue of consequence needs to be addressed.
- Communicate in a positive tone if there is a mistake made by your professional colleague. Attacking someone has no value, and if your colleague has “earned the benefit of the doubt” you should be even more pleasant in how you address a mistake.
- Focus on the resolution to an issue and not blame. If someone points the finger at me I convey that I want to focus on the root cause and the resolution, and if it important to them then we can assign blame later.
I have developed these best practices over my career, and only by making mistakes relative to each of the points above is how I offer an informed opinion. At times, knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do.
It is key to anyone’s career success that they build long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. Each person must define what that means to them. For me, anyone who expects me to be perfect and does not want an honest relationship will be disappointed in terms of the duration and depth of our relationship.
Creating a Career Changing Elevator Pitch in Five Easy Steps
Ernie Humphrey, COO, TreasuryJobs.com
Constructing and refining an elevator pitch are about as much fun as writing a resume, but the risk of not having and delivering one can keep your career on ice. I work with Purdue students via mock interviews and one thing there are always “supposed to” convey to me is their elevator pitch. I have always found it challenging to create and manage my own elevator pitch, so I began to ponder how I could help young professionals create and manage an elevator pitch. ,
I stopped asking the students to give me an elevator pitch and asked them one question that helped me work with them to develop the core of an elevator pitch (professional value proposition) in 3 minutes. The question I ask each student is as follows: When I call your references relative to a job opportunity what three things will they all say about you? It normally takes about 3 minutes for me to get the 3 main components of their personal value proposition out of them, and then two minutes to work with them to word smith their thoughts into a quality 30 second elevator pitch. I also advise them that their resumes should convey the three main components of their professional value proposition, that their value proposition is dynamic and should changes over time, and that they need to make sure that these are the attributes are conveyed throughout a job interview and in their follow-up correspondence relative to each job interview.
The following are 5 steps anyone can use to create a quality elevator pitch (professional value proposition):
- Ask yourself, if my references relative to a job opportunity were called, what three things would each of my references say about me?
- Word smith these attributes and/or have a valued colleague help you.
- Communicate with your top 3 job references. Ask them if they were called about you relative to the next job on your career path (you describe it to them) what three things would they all say about you?
- Reconcile their responses with your version of you professional value proposition (elevator pitch).
- Send the revised version of your professional value proposition (elevator pitch) to your top references, and then tweak it to create your final version.
Here are the three pillars of my current professional value proposition:
- I have an unique and unparalleled professional background: I have worked in academia, I have worked at a publicly traded corporation, I have worked as a senior leader at a leading professional association, I have worked at a start-up, and I have founded three companies.
- No one knows the Office of the CFO like Ernie: I worked as the Director of Treasury Services and as a Director of the Corporate Treasurers Council for the AFP, I helped build the largest online community of senior level financial professional from the ground up at Proformative, I currently serve as an Executive Director for the CFO Alliance, and I have developed, moderated and moderated hundreds of webinars and dozens of seminars developed to improve the performance of corporate financial professionals in addition to overacting with thousands of them in speaking at conferences over the past 10 years.
- I have a passion to learn, educate, innovate and collaborate: You can sense my energy and passion as soon as you meet me. I am a recognized thought leader in many areas including treasury, working capital management, expense management, professional relationship management, acquisition integration, online marketing and educational program development and delivery. I have risen from entry level to senior management positions in multiple disciplines. I will share my innovative piece for when I meet you in person!
Meet Your Gig
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