Q&A with Deborah Black, Corporate Treasurer, Chesapeake

Deborah Black is corporate treasurer of Chesapeake, a global packaging manufacturing company, with its headquarters based in Old Amersham, UK. Black has a strong background in corporate treasury and has worked in various different industries from roof tiles to music. Prior to joining Chesapeake, she worked for Nortel Networks, a telecommunications company, and Kidde, a fire protection manufacturer. Black started her career in banking before moving into corporate treasury.

Q (gtnews): What does your typical day as a treasurer involve? Could you describe some of your key responsibilities?

A (Deborah Black, corporate treasurer, Chesapeake): Anything from foreign exchange (FX) hedging out to two years; external funding for the group (reporting and day-to-day financing); discussing FX exposures with business units or FX issues within contracts; inter-company funding and tax implications of inter-company funding; and external and internal reporting for treasury transactions, sale of assets, and cash forecasting. At the moment, I am implementing an inter-company netting settlement process due to start in March, as well as about to start changing cash management banks in Ireland and setting up electronic banking (e-banking) in Luxembourg.

Q (gtnews): What are your main challenges? Are they industry/region specific?

A (Black): My main challenges, which are more company-specific than industry or region related, are:

  • Lack of resource: treasury will need to take on another person but is yet undecided as to what level.
  • Lack of good treasury management system (TMS).
  • Treasury had not been a focus of the group until I came along, so setting up a treasury department and introducing new processes across the group has been a challenge.
  • Cumbersome cash forecasting process/system.

Q (gtnews): What steps will you be taking to make your treasury and cash management operations more efficient in 2011? For example, what’s on your treasury wish list at the moment?

A (Black): First priority is another member of staff and then a good TMS/cash forecasting system.

Q (gtnews): What made you interested in making treasury a career?

A (Black): I moved into treasury from banking (and I fell into banking because my father worked for a bank) and much prefer the diversity of treasury. In treasury, there is the opportunity to get involved in every aspect of the business. At Chesapeake I have been involved in all areas of the business from property, legal, environmental, tax, plant and machinery, contracts, pensions, marketing, and of course finance, overseas operations, diverse bank relationships across the globe, etc.

Q (gtnews): And finally, if you didn’t work in treasury, what would you choose to do?

A (Black): I would do something very different – such as an archaeologist.