To tap the power of tech, first look to the team

Speaking with Treasury 360° on the very 100th day on her post, Minna Helppi – head of group finance with 30,000-employee Austrian machinery company Andritz – shares her strategy for lifting the function to the next level. Meet her at Treasury 360° Nordic 2024 on 23 May.

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To join Treasury 360° Nordic 2024, at Copenhagen Airport on 23 May, sign up here today. Free of charge for treasurers – so why not bring your team?

 

“I am aiming at a cultural change, from being a very operative, very back-office, type of function to really being a strategic partner to the business and group management – and from concentrating on details to seeing the big picture,” says Minna Helppi.

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With her permanent home still in Helsinki, Minna Helppi has a long trip to her Andritz office in Vienna, the location where the group is also listed on the stock exchange. The company is headquartered in Graz, with an offer including equipment and plants for large-scale process industry.

Straight-through processing on horizon

About 30 people are in Minna Helppi’s direct line of command, across a treasury team and a team for trade and customer finance. Adding those who report through the international matrix, the function engages nearer to 100 employees.

“I hope to help making people thrive and really enjoy what they do. Then bring the technology, too, to help us reduce the manual work and the error-proneness of spreadsheet and copying figures from one system to another,” she says.

“For the future, my vision is that we would have harmonised, automated straight-through processing with modern tools. We could start automating parts of our processes with robotics or AI. Hopefully, machine learning will play a role, but we are also looking into the whole treasury system landscape and potentially selecting a new treasury management system – as well as a global tool for bank guarantees and letters of credit,” says Minna Helppi.

Takes basics in place

So, big technological changes lie ahead, but first, the foundation is being laid.

“We are looking at what kind of processes we want in the future, and what kind of roles people will be in. How are we organised? And then bring the best out of people and really bring their ideas, not them waiting for me to tell them how we should do it.”

The fundamentals include, for example, the banking setup and cash management processes.

“Currently, we bank with maybe 300 banks around the world – which doesn’t make any sense in my mind. So I am in the process of selecting a core banking group,” she reveals.

More centralization of cash to treasury is being discussed, and the diversity of processes and providers across countries and business areas is being challenged.

“So, it is really about starting to harmonise those processes and make them lean – then hopefully also automating them with new systems, once we have selected and implemented those.”

Spoke with everyone

So how has she approached all this?

“It’s really meeting with people and talking to them. I had one-on-ones with everybody in my team – that’s 30 people – then with my peers internally, who lead departments close to ours. Then I did my ‘world tour’, travelling to all the major subsidiaries. I wanted to understand the business, of course, but more importantly to really get to know the people – discussing with them what works or not, what we should develop, and what their expectations are on me. So those discussions built the base for me to start doing what I now plan to do.”

The end of January saw around 50 people from around the world join in Vienna for a two-day strategy workshop. With employees volunteering for working groups, Minna Helppi now perceives a good momentum, which she hopes to leverage.

“We discussed what the future could look like, then started building the vision and the strategy. From there, we are now going to slice and dice the strategy into actions and set a road map for the next three to five years.”

With that, the scene should be set for systematically staffing project teams, and setting schedules and project budgets.

“We will try to start working smarter, automating some of the processes – freeing up time for the development work.”

At Treasury 360° Nordic 2024, at Copenhagen Airport on 23 May, Minna Helppi will take part in a panel discussion on treasury technology, preliminarily scheduled for 14:50 as the concluding session in the technology break-out track. Read all about the conference and sign up here.  

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