Moneyball has come to corporate treasuries as executives learn to win big games with small budgets by leveraging the talent they have and shrewdly drafting young players. The “velocity of change” is moving treasuries farther and farther away from “what worked yesterday” in hiring, says Brian Kalish, finance practice lead at the Association for Financial Professionals.
Microsoft’s Shruti Kulkarni is a good example of how treasuries recruit and deploy new skills. Kulkarni, 33, graduated from India’s University of Mumbai in 1999 with a degree in computer science and worked three years at Tata Consultancy Services in Mumbai, creating software solutions for financial firms and polishing her skills in computer modeling and quantitative analysis. After completing an M.B.A. in finance at Seattle University’s Albers School of Business, she joined Microsoft as a risk analyst in 2005, working under Doug Hoch, a statistical modeling expert with a Ph.D. in chemistry. Microsoft’s quantitative risk analysis at that point focused on the company’s multibillion-dollar investment portfolio.
Treasury staffers with exotic skills remain the exception, though, not the rule. Some treasuries are hiring mathematicians to build complex models around cash forecasting, but the vast majority of new treasury employees are still accounting and economics majors, reports Chris Kearney, partner and practice leader at professional services firm Tatum.
Treasury competency now emphasizes comfort with technology and greater analytical skills. IT specialists can be cross-trained and dedicated to treasury, but they seldom become a company’s treasurer, Kearney notes.
Those looking for an example of the role of project management skills should consider Axel Martinez, Google’s assistant treasurer. From Honduras and the South Bronx, Martinez went to Columbia University and then to Harvard for his M.B.A. He joined Merrill Lynch as an investment banker in 2000.
By the time he joined Merrill, Martinez had spent a summer advising the president of the Central Bank of Honduras and had worked in mergers and acquisitions at Chase Manhattan.