New Year interviews: Samantha Allen on stepping up

15 January
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Samantha Allen, head of treasury at G4S, talks about promotions, building relationships and how she has developed in her role

 

Tell us about your early career.

I began my career in a graduate corporate tax role at accountants Ernst & Young, where I was fortunate to be given support to study for my AMCT alongside my chartered accountancy qualification. It was as a result of this that, after completing a rotation programme across four different departments, I decided to specialise in treasury tax solutions. From Ernst & Young, I then moved into a treasury role at RELX Group, where I spent six years before moving to G4S, the security group.

 

You appeared in the 2016 edition of Ones to Watch, shortly after you started at G4S. What has happened since then?

It has been a busy four years! When I joined G4S, I was one of the company’s four regional treasury managers, acting as the key point of contact for operations across Asia and the Middle East – providing support for funding, cash repatriation and pooling activities. The two years I spent in that role were formative in terms of growing to understand a geographically dispersed operation and learning how to manage remote projects and influence outcomes. To do that, it was necessary to understand the regulatory and resource issues that our teams faced in different jurisdictions in order to get under the skin of their problems and assist them with their challenges.

In parallel to this, I was undertaking my MCT qualification, which I completed in December 2017. Some of the course content and discussions with other students highlighted to me that there was a need to expand my experience beyond treasury, so I endeavoured to become involved with more cross-departmental projects – actively pushing to be involved as the treasury lead in M&A and group tax projects. While these aren’t core treasury areas, they’ve been helpful in terms of broadening my knowledge, providing me with a more holistic view of our business, and they have enabled me to increase my profile in the company and to step up in my career.

It has also been beneficial in terms of reaching a wide range of people across different functions who might not otherwise know what treasury does, and it has helped to develop relationships with these teams. There’s now greater awareness of treasury and the support we can offer the business, and there is a greater desire to involve us from the outset in projects that perhaps we would not previously have been aware of until the later stages.

 

What changes have there been for G4S’ treasury function?

In 2017, Nigel Roberts joined G4S as group treasurer from Worldpay. He has been key for our development as he is a great believer in promoting from within. He makes sure the opportunities are available for us to do this.

When the previous deputy treasurer left, he promoted me to co-assistant treasurer, which put me in the running for the deputy treasurer role. Essentially, my brief was to take increased responsibility over many areas of the treasury function, expanding my remit and focusing on becoming the person others come to. As a result of this, in 2018, I was promoted to deputy treasurer.

 

What has that been like?

It has given me more experience of dealing directly with both senior stakeholders across our business divisions and our executive team, as well as the opportunity to take the lead on more complex projects such as the separation of our cash business.

On the financing front, I’ve gained greater experience. We have undertaken an amendment and extension of our revolving credit facility, put in place several bridge facilities and gone out to both the eurobond and US private placement markets. I have been fortunate to have been able to take ownership of several of these projects.

Our US private placement issuance was the most challenging of these, as we had not gone to this market since 2008, so there was a greater level of preparation required both with the documentation and the roadshow materials. This was a great learning experience for me – from gaining a greater understanding of our approach to investor relations, undertaking the roadshow presentations, to balancing and negotiating our needs against investor requirements to get the deal completed.

 

How has all this challenged you?

It has meant managing the transition in terms of stepping back from the day-to-day interactions with colleagues in Asia and the Middle East to allow others in the team the space to establish their own direct relationship with those regional teams. The shift to becoming the escalation point can be tricky to manage, especially when you have pre-existing relationships with colleagues, or when you regularly interact with them in other capacities.

It has also required me to focus on developing my team management skills, particularly with regard to the delegation of work. Although I have complete confidence in my team, it has been challenging to shift from undertaking the work myself to making sure others feel they have ownership and responsibility for what is being delegated.

 

What’s next in 2020?

I’ll be working more on developing our team this year to broaden their experience. As G4S has a presence in over 90 countries, there are a lot of opportunities for the treasury team to get involved and bring value, but it is partly about seeking those opportunities out. It can be difficult as there can be some resistance to changing the status quo, but if you are persistent there are plenty of possibilities.

As a business, we are also keen to support the team in taking further qualifications – we have just finalised the arrangements for one of our team to start an ACA apprenticeship, and several others are about to embark on the AMCT. I have also had a promotion: I am now head of treasury as of this January, so I am looking forward to the new challenges this brings.

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