10 MINUTES WITH…….
Taylor McDonald MFTA
Caltex Australia Limited
Please tell us a little about yourself:
I grew up on a rural property in the Sunshine Coast hinterland where I developed a passion for horses and enjoyed the benefits of a laid-back community which was seemingly immune to outside pressures to commercialise – there was outrage when Woolworths finally decided to head to town! For my high school years, I ventured down to boarding school on the Gold Coast with the intention of pursuing a law degree upon graduation. So, how did I end up in finance in Sydney? It was during this period that the Australian economy flirted with recession as the fallout from the Global Financial Crisis ensued. We survived and I enrolled in an Economics/Commerce program at UNSW. I’m currently finalising my studies whilst also working full time within Caltex’s Treasury Team.
Q1: What is the size of your team and what is the one thing you do well collectively?
Group Treasury at Caltex is centralised with 15 people focused across group financial risk management, insurance and funding. In recent times, Caltex has undergone significant transformation with the establishment of a standalone trading and shipping function in Singapore, the acquisition of Gull New Zealand, and a restructuring of the Group around two separate but interdependent businesses – “Fuels & Infrastructure” and “Convenience Retail”. Group Treasury has built its capability to manage Caltex’s complex financial risk, whilst partnering the business to enable growth and transformation. As a centralised Group Treasury function, we adhere to an overarching financial risk framework, which has positioned Caltex at the forefront of leading best practice. One of the team’s strengths is the ability to adjust our approach in response to changing internal and external factors.
Q2: In your career, what are the major changes that you have seen within Treasury in the past 5 years?
My career within Treasury thus far has been quite brief… circa 6 months… so there hasn’t been much of a revolution to speak of! However, looking forward, the overhaul of the infrastructure that supports Australia’s system of payments will certainly change the way we do business with real time processing (finally) a reality. The impact on daily liquidity management as a consequence of payment terms adjusting is an area of current uncertainty.
Q3: What are the challenges and opportunities facing Treasurers both now and into the future?
We live in an incredibly dynamic period in time – uncertainty is the status quo. How financial markets react to a tightening of monetary policy in the coming year, along with the impact felt as a result of ongoing geopolitical tensions, climate change, trends away from globalisation and rising public and private debt levels will be particularly interesting. Cyber security threats must also be a focus point when developing annual insurance programs in the modern age. However, it’s not all doom and gloom… continued internationalisation of the financial markets increases the ability of Treasurers to design a funding mix that matches the requirements of the business.
Q4: Roles are evolving and technology is challenging our way of working. Do you agree and how are you adapting to the change?
The benefits of technological improvements over the longer term are well recognised, however, in the shorter term, as structural changes take place the impact on individuals can be highly disruptive. One workstream that Caltex is currently undertaking involves the transition to a Treasury Management System with a web interface facilitating flexible access. Another key challenge for Treasurers moving forward will be in maintaining robust controls and a strict segregation of duties as solutions involving service bureaus or straight through processing are adopted.
Q5: Why did you go into Treasury?
A career within Group Treasury was always very appealing as the function is integral to the organisation, which provides an opportunity to engage with a variety of stakeholders on a consistent basis. A typical day at Caltex can involve liasing with our Trading Accountants over in Singapore in the morning to determine USD funding requirements, to evaluating the impact on EPS of M&A activity with the Strategy Team in the afternoon. My path into Caltex Treasury was far from conventional, as I was working within Corporate Facilities. On my daily rounds, I began chatting with our Assistant Treasurer about a position that had recently become available… the rest as they say is history!
Q6: What are the three major skills that makes a successful Treasurer?
- Attention to detail.
- A genuine interest in finance and financial markets.
- A risk mindset – Ability to anticipate and develop effective responses to various business scenarios.
Q7: On both a personal and professional level, what are you passionate about?
Recently, I’ve developed a particular interest in the field of Development Economics and I would like to explore this further with additional study and field work in the future. My interest was initially peaked when I took a class over at the University of California. On the first day, our Professor had to appear via Skype outside the Colosseum in Rome as he was presenting to the United Nations on programs being undertaken in Burkina Faso, one of the world’s most impoverished nations. The impact that, for example, microfinance programs can have on reducing poverty by empowering individuals to become economically self-sufficient is truly motivating in continuing the fight. In my spare time, I enjoy travelling or exploring all that Sydney has to offer – we have two energetic puppies that are part of the family so they are always up for an adventure! During a Netflix binge session you’re likely to find me watching “Designated Survivor” or “Lucifer”…