Strategic insight podcasts

Caroline Stockmann, Chief Executive of the ACT, draws on personal learnings from a full and varied career.

Strategic insights podcast

The drive behind the series is the belief that we do not focus enough time on personal development outside the ‘technical’ – those areas with which we more often feel comfortable, and which link very directly to our roles and job functions. Our very busy day jobs, as well as culture, tend to have us leave such considerations to the occasional leadership/management training which is not followed up on, nor ‘practised’ sufficiently after the event for its learnings to become embedded. We do not treat our communications and relationship-building skills like other work projects, yet expect somehow for them to be as successful. And we can get frustrated with the world and people around us, leaving us feeling somewhat helpless and demotivated, when by focusing on the things we can change, we will improve our health, happiness and career.

By developing our non-technical skills, we can differentiate ourselves from others more effectively, and increase our likelihood of progressing professionally. And although people’s expectations of work are changing, as are their brains (according to neuroscientists), the insights in this series are likely to remain relevant, and in fact become even more important in the future. Whether it’s about becoming a board member, the value of diverse teams, the power of visualisation, identifying and putting into action our values, or resilience: all these insights can help us manage our careers in the future, whether we change jobs frequently, develop portfolio careers or indeed change professions every so often.

Why podcasts? Easily digestible, and you can come back to the library time and time again – as it’s practice which makes perfect! We’ll also be including some interviews with guests over time, so watch this space…

You will find a new podcast posted here every Friday throughout 2020. Future topics include resilience, giving and receiving feedback, and developing a personal communication strategy.

The strategic insight podcasts complement other ACT resources available for members – including the career hub, mentoring scheme, CPD podcasts and blogs as well as articles in The Treasurer. Do take a look at these to support your business and behavioural skills development, and remember to record this in your CPD record.


Being explicit

In today’s strategic insights podcast Caroline Stockmann reflects on 'being explicit'. Caroline explains how being clear and explicit can help get our point across in an effective manner. She also highlights the importance of finding time for explicit conversations, even if they are on general topics, especially with our colleagues. This approach not only builds relationships but gives a better understanding of how others view the world, which is useful to help overcome barriers and misconceptions.


Strategic insight podcasts: 30 Being explicit

Diverse teams

Why is it that we so often don’t see businesses reflecting the diversity of society? What can we do to attract more diversity and retain it? In today’s episode of our strategic insights podcasts, ACT Chief Executive Caroline Stockmann reflects on understanding the importance of diverse teams. She shares a few thoughts on how we can make our existing teams more diverse, inclusive and functional as it’s proven that diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams

Strategic insight podcasts: 29 Diverse teams

The picture on the box by guest speaker Paul Boyle

In this episode of our Strategic Insights podcast series, Caroline Stockmann welcomes guest Paul Boyle, ex-CEO of the FRC, ex-Chief Audit Officer of Aviva, experienced NED and current ACT advisory panel member Paul uses the analogy of a jigsaw puzzle to explain the importance of the picture in helping us to identify and successfully overcome business challenges, and illustrates how we can apply this in our daily professional and personal development.

Paul highlights the importance of us having a clear picture when taking on a new challenge. He then explains that the picture on our box might look different from others’ and shares his thoughts on how to understand that by having thorough conversations with our colleagues and teams.


Strategic insight podcasts: 28 The picture on the box by guest speaker Paul Boyle

Resilience - how can you build and maintain it?

At times when we have been working too hard, or are going through significant stress - both of which are front of mind in the current COVID-19 crisis - we need to think about our own wellbeing, and in particular how we can boost our resilience. A coach who has worked with the ACT, Gavin Aubrey, talks about the 5 boosters: learning, being in the present, connecting with family and friends, being active, and giving. In this podcast Caroline focuses on two of these: learning and giving. There is an astonishing 87% improvement in mental wellbeing when someone joins an education programme, according to The National Institute of Adult Education, and the positive effects are backed up by other research too.

With thanks to Gavin Aubrey.


Strategic insight podcasts: 27 Resilience - how can you build and maintain it?

Resilience – what differentiates those who are resilient from those who are not?

Being resilient is important as it determines how quickly we can ‘bounce back’ from events or situations, but there is often a misconception that we are either resilient or not. In this episode, Caroline talks about the characteristics of resilient people in order to see where we sit in terms of resilience as well as consider ways that we might like to approach life to strengthen our resilience.  

Strategic insight podcasts: 26 Resilience – what differentiates those who are resilient from those who are not?

Muscle memory

Taking on new approaches can be daunting. In this episode, Caroline Stockman talks about muscle memory and how we can apply it in the business world. She shares with us her experience as a classically trained flautist and piccolo player, and reflects on how strong the analogy of learning an instrument is with developing ourselves in other ways. She gives us tips on how to overcome the challenges of taking on new approaches or adopting different styles when they might not feel exactly authentic. Caroline also shares her learnings from the late Mark Hemstedt, as she highlights the themes of repetition and ‘little and often’ when implementing new learning.

Strategic insight podcasts: 25 Muscle memory

With thanks to the late Mark Hemstedt

Guest speaker: Peter Cheese, Chief Executive, CIPD

For this week’s strategic podcast we have a special guest presenter: Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development. CIPD is the professional body for those in HR and people development. In the podcast, Peter speaks about the challenges and opportunities for leadership, culture and organisations in the current COVID-19 crisis. He shares his thoughts and recommendations on how we respond positively to the issues caused by the pandemic, ensuring that our businesses re-set to emerge stronger. He emphasises the importance of staff well-being and the duty of genuine care leaders have towards their staff. Peter tells us how this crisis has shown we can work differently, with agility and flexibility.

Strategic insight podcasts: 24 Guest speaker: Peter Cheese, Chief Executive, CIPD

Networking as a positive

Operational, personal or even strategic networking can prompt some negative reactions to some of us. In today’s podcast,Caroline explores the importance of networking in our development, as well as the need to stay authentic to our values and treat others with respect, as we embark on the networking journey. She shares recommendations on how we can view networking as a positive and gain something from our interactions with those we engage with. Although the times are unpredictable, it is important to remember networking can still be achieved in a virtual world, which is something the ACT will be talking about (and practicing!) at its forthcoming  Festival of Treasury Transformation, virtual event.

Strategic insight podcasts: 23 Networking as a positive

With thanks to Herminia Ibarra

Building Buy-In

How do we build buy-in from others?  When working with others we are dealing with the complexity of different people’s perceptions and experiences, political and personal aspects that the particular project will stir up; and different people’s styles and ways of working too – so it can be a bit challenging. In today’s episode, Caroline talks about building buy-in and shares with us a useful approach she developed when looking at a strategy for a new team or organisation, or for a particular project which has produced some great results.  She also reminds us that the key to success is always thinking of the bigger picture and specifically highlights the need for diversity and inclusion.

Strategic Insight Podcast 22: Building Buy-In

Negotiations and Partnerships

Successful partnerships lead to greater success in business, and partner management is something we should all be thinking about. Today Caroline reflects on partner management and talks about the importance of effective negotiations with others, and how successful negotiations can lead us to win-win partnerships. She shares recommendations and tips that can help us build long term, successful and sustainable partnerships that will be beneficial and contribute to achieving our overall business objectives.

Strategic Insight Podcast 21: Negotiations and Partnerships

With thanks to Janine Driver and David Meade

Step Across the Bridge

In today’s episode Caroline Stockmann looks at business partnering and explains how we can truly understand the business as a whole, irrespective of our roles.  Every day we work with others and collaboration and teamwork are extremely valued. Nevertheless, it can be very difficult to truly appreciate how others think, what their working life is like, and what their challenges and successes might be. Here, Caroline shares ideas on how to improve our ability to successfully partner with others.

Strategic Insight Podcast 20: Step Across the Bridge

With thanks to Wiet Pruim

Leadership and External Stimuli

In today's podcast Caroline reflects on how we can learn to act as leaders. She looks at why external inputs are important to continuing development, and offers tips on how we can hone our leadership skills.

Strategic Insight Podcast 19: Leadership and External Stimuli

With thanks to Herminia Ibarra, Angela Duckworth and CFTE.

Values into Action

As with a lot of thoughts, theories and analyses, if they remain just that and don’t translate into definite actions, then they don’t have any great value. In last week's episode of our ‘Strategic Insights’ series of 5-minute podcasts, we talked about identifying your core values. In today’s episode Caroline Stockmann, ACT Chief Executive, talks about putting your core values into action and shares tips on how to do this in practice.

Strategic Insight Podcast 18: Values into Action

Holding to Our Core Values

The message of today’s podcast is that the more you live your values, the more effective you will be in terms both of personal achievements and strategic influencing, to get the right things done. But how do you effectively identify your core values? In today’s episode of our strategic insights podcast Caroline Stockmann, Chief Executive of the ACT, shares top tips on how to identify your core values.

Strategic Insight Podcast 17: Holding to our core values

Trust First

It can be very hard to perform at your best if you are not trusted. Trust is very important in all aspects of life, but it can be difficult to earn. So what do we do, when we want and need to be trusted, and it’s not happening fast enough? In the latest episode of our strategic insight podcast Caroline Stockmann, ACT Chief Executive explores the importance of trust and shares a few key things to be aware of when building trust ourselves and trusting others.

Strategic Insight Podcast 16: Trust First

Negativity has its place

This is the 15th of our Strategic Insight series of 5-minute podcasts, and today the topic is negativity - following on from our earlier podcast on positivity.

In her book, Emotional Agility Susan David maintains that the happiest people have learned to ‘unhook’ themselves from unhelpful patterns of thought and behaviour.

David also talks about the upside of negativity. When in a state of happiness or positivity, we may be less thoughtful about things, less discerning, and this can cause a sub-optimum outcome. Whereas a negative mood may summon a more attentive, challenging but accommodating thinking style – leading to greater creativity. 

With thanks to Susan David

Strategic Insight Podcast 15: Negativity Has its Place?

Self-Belief and Mantras

There’s a popular English expression ‘pride comes before a fall’ which warns us not to be too confident – or else! However, in this day and age, many of us find it hard to believe in ourselves and our abilities and those of us that do might be scared to express this to avoid being labelled too confident. 

Low-self esteem can be a hindrance to our career as well as our personal lives in various ways. In this episode, Caroline draws on her wide experience and shares the learnings she has found most valuable in overcoming this hurdle.

Strategic Insight Podcast 14: Self-Belief and Mantras


The Coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we live. It’s an anxious and upsetting time and channelling our positivity can be very challenging when the things surrounding us are quite negative. How can we stay positive? In the latest of our series of short podcasts, ACT Chief Executive Caroline Stockmann reflects on positivity.

Strategic Insight Podcast 13: Positivity

Mind or Event - What can we control?

How can we manage our reactions to situations? A particularly relevant question in today's time of crisis, with many of us working under pressure and at a physical distance from our teams and peers. Reflecting back on the motivational states model in the last podcast: what drives us into those various motivational state boxes?  Is it as simple as an event occurs, causing a reaction and emotion in ourselves – leading to a state of ‘survival’ or ‘impossibility’, for example?  Research tells us that it’s not the event that causes our reaction, but our mind.  So, how do we start training ourselves in this potential conflict zone between ourselves and our minds? 

 You can have no dominion greater or less than that over yourself. Leonardo da Vinci  

With thanks to Janet Jones.

Strategic Insight Podcast 12: Mind or Event - What can we control?

The Zone: Motivational States

In our current situation, facing great uncertainty, this model can help us get out of a state of mind of ‘survival’ or ‘impossibility’; when it all seems too much, we’re able with practice to switch our mood to a more positive one, which can help us make better decisions, and be less stressed overall.

With thanks to K Bradford Brown and Janet Jones.

Strategic Insight Podcast 11: The Zone: Motivational States

Fear as words

Dealing with fear can be challenging, especially in times of crisis such as this. We all have our deep-seated fears – about not being liked, about not being successful, about not making our family proud, or even about failing publicly – there are infinite possibilities!  In this episode Caroline shares her views on how to deal with fear and talks about the benefits of negativity.

With thanks to Susan David and Janet Jones

Strategic Insight Podcast 10: Fear as words

Leadership and followership

Leadership and followership are both critical to an effective working team, and ultimately to business success. Discerning when to lead and when to allow others to is at the heart of effective leadership. Caroline reflects on some instances in her own career and the lessons we can all draw from these.

Strategic Insight Podcast 9: Leadership/Followership

Authentic leadership

Authenticity counts for a lot in life. Being true to ourselves makes us feel good, helps us communicate with others, building trust and respect even if our views differ. Caroline talks about authenticity and the struggles people face when it comes to being authentic.

Strategic Insight Podcast 8: Authentic leadership

Using your strengths

If you really understand yourself and your strengths and use them, a lot of great things can happen. By focusing on the competencies you are naturally best at you’ll also naturally be authentic – one of the key factors in gaining the trust and respect of others.  Funnily enough though, as our talents come naturally, they are also very easy for us to neglect. The theory behind focusing on strengths, developed over time, is that you are far more likely to be successful by building on strengths rather than trying to ‘battle’ with weaknesses.  Focusing on weaknesses can bring incremental improvements, whereas focusing on strengths brings exponential change.  

Strategic Insight Podcast 7: Using your strengths

With thanks to Marcus Buckingham 

Life balance

Discussing work versus life balance can be unhelpful as it suggests that there is something inherently bad about work when, under the right circumstances, it can be very fulfilling. Work can set us interesting challenges, be the cause of things we want to celebrate, and it can also bring us new friendships. In this week's podcast Caroline reflects on the value of work in our life balance.

Strategic Insight Podcast 6: Life balance

Women represent all women

It's been said that in the boardroom women represent all women, whereas men only represent themselves. So, a woman on a board really has a huge responsibility, and until there are more women on boards, that will remain so. What do women board members need to know to help them succeed? In this week's podcast Caroline looks at how you can grow and mature in the boardroom, whatever your gender.

Strategic Insight Podcast 5 Women represent all women

With thanks to: Fidelio and Gillian Karran-Cumberlege


Barriers for women: internal

What barriers to success do women need to consider more than men? In this podcast, Caroline talks about dealing with internal barriers, bolstering confidence and how to be sure your voice is heard.

Strategic Insight Podcast 4 Barriers for women: internal

With thanks to: Herminia Ibarra, Sally Helgesen, Marshal Goldsmith, and Harriet B Braiker.

Barriers for women: external

Caroline talks through the external challenges that women in particular face and how they can be dealt with, and how their male colleagues can understand these better and help.

Strategic Insight Podcast 3: Barriers for women part 1

With thanks to Luc Limère.

Further resources:

Boston Consulting Group: The Mix That Matters

Jordan Peterson 

Ladder of inference

Caroline looks at an established model developed by Chris Argyris, the business theorist, which analyses the thinking process that we go through, usually without realising it, to get from a fact to a decision or action.

 All our knowledge has its roots in our perceptions. Leonardo da Vinci  

Strategic Insight Podcast 2 Ladder of inference

With thanks to Janet Jones.

Strategic vs Operational

A leader and influencer ideally needs a mixture of both attributes, but getting a seat at the strategic table is critical for any professional who wants to do their job well. 

Strategic Insight Podcast 1 Strategic vs Operational


People should not have to read 300 pages to find just one thing which speaks to them, that they can use to improve their careers and lives. I believe in sharing the best I have come across, having been too often disappointed by long and rather repetitive reads, and hope that this will make a positive difference in people’s lives.
Caroline Stockmann, Chief Executive, Association of Corporate Treasurers

Caroline has worked as a professional musician, youth development worker, internal and external auditor, senior finance professional and chief executive, as well as in non-executive roles, across a span of different industries. Chief Executive of the ACT and a trained coach, Caroline is passionate about many things, but especially, in this context, diversity & inclusion and treating our strategic self-development as seriously as the rest of our development. Caroline has run workshops, seminars and presentations on strategic influencing and leadership skills, for all-female as well as mixed-gender groups around the world, including women’s empowerment workshops for HH Sheikha Shamma, the UAE President’s granddaughter, and workshops for treasurers as part of the European Association of Corporate Treasurers’ annual summit. Other audiences include HKUST MBA Alumni, guests of White & Case in Dubai and Hong Kong, the Banking Standards Board (Strengthsfinder away day), Save the Children International and British Council, as well as open seminars in London.

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