Women in Treasury

Bobbi Cadena

Bobbi Cadena

Treasurer, DXP
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Bobbi Cadena joined DXP Enterprises, based in Houston, Texas, as Treasurer in 2017. With over 18 years of experience in Finance and Treasury, Bobbi has built out the treasury department at DXP from scratch, bringing innovation and automation to processes and procedures.
Brenda Finch

Brenda Finch

Treasury Manager, Citation Oil & Gas Corp
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Brenda Finch is the Treasury Manager of Citation Oil & Gas Corp, a $1 Billion privately-owned oil and gas exploration and production company. Since joining Citation in April of 2010, she has worked to automate and streamline treasury functions while consolidating treasury activities formerly managed by other departments.

Session Summary:

Takeaway 1:
Smaller treasury companies provide more room for growth for women
Key Points
  • Bobbi has the opportunity to handle the crude as well as the sophisticated areas of treasury such as managing risks, insurance portfolio, and bank relations as her treasury team is not big.
  • Brenda finds it interesting to work for firms with smaller treasury structures and feels that the growth and opportunities are greater in small and mid-sized businesses.
Takeaway 2:
Advice for young women starting their career in treasury
Key Points
  • Women can balance their personal and work life through effective communication with their bosses, setting priorities, and demanding flexibility.
  • Young women should learn the basics, understand their roles and responsibilities, and how their responsibilities impact every department to advance their careers.
  • Women should maintain confidence and should not be afraid of coming off as too vulnerable or harsh.
Takeaway 3:
Women should believe in themselves for climbing up the ladder
Key Points
  • Women should be confident with their abilities, be proactive while looking for jobs and be ready to justify their skills.
  • Women should research about their skills and be bold while demanding equal pay or a hike in salary.
  • Women should take up challenging and leadership roles and make sure they are heard on the table.
[ 0:00 ] Tracey Knight:

All right. Good afternoon, everyone. And thanks for joining us here for this last session of the day, we’d like to keep it a little bit more informal. We’ll start off just talking a little bit, and then we’ll open it up for questions. So let’s start off by asking if each of you could just describe your roles and responsibilities a little bit, and then maybe a little bit about how you got into Treasury.

[ 0:22 ] Bobbi Cadena:

Okay, I’ll start off. So my name is Bobbi and I am the treasurer for DXP. I manage all of our banking, relationships, all of our bank covenants and bank reporting, all of our executive-level reporting, cash positioning, cash reporting, and then just day to day treasury activities, such as payments, ACH, wires, we don’t do cheque printing, but we work directly with our AP group that does it. And I think that’s, that’s about it. And I got into Treasury, I initially started in banking, it wasn’t for me, I went into wealth management for a while. And then an opportunity arose. To be a treasure, treasury analyst. I’m like, Well, I was worked in banking for about three years, I didn’t think it was going to be too hard of a transition. And that’s where I’ve been since then.

[ 1:16 ] Brenda Finch:

What I do is kind of already included in the bio, we, I’ve just joked with people, I say, you know, that book to study for the CTP what it says, that’s what all department have to do in Treasury. So we, we stay very busy. I also metal, I tell people, I’m really bad about opening up cans of worms, helping, but helping other departments see ways that we can help them and with some of the tools that we usually see through Treasury venues that we can help. One of the things we’re working on now is trying to do implementing payables. We’re hoping to do that next year. Well, we’re looking at that right now. So we stay very busy with all of those things. And what else was I supposed to say? Thank you. I’m getting old. I got into Treasury. I started out I was a banker, I was a commercial credit officer for a bank, took a few years off until my youngest son started kindergarten. And I had I went back into banking, and then got a call from a headhunter. He had a position with an oil and gas company that they wanted somebody with banking experience, my banking experience had very little to do with what I was going to be doing. But that didn’t matter. So that’s how I got into treasuring at Treasury, I was with swift energy for 13 years, which is actually where Bobbi started interest, and then with the citation.

[ 2:54 ] Tracey Knight:

Alright and I’m Tracy Knight at high radius, I’m over solutions engineering, meaning the team that really talks to you understands what you’re doing, and demonstrates our solutions to you. So you can see how they might fit within your world. I fell into Treasury kind of by accident, and just like most people do something you kind of learn about on the side, I was working in revenue operations at Southwestern Bell Telephone. And every day, we would have to report our expected revenue numbers to this miscellaneous person on the phone in Treasury. And it always just sounded more and more interesting. And one day, a job came available there and I applied for it. And that was, you know, 20 something years ago. So Treasury is great. So Treasury really is a very broad area. Have you felt at any point like you were being steered toward what was often considered the softer areas like, you know, cash management or bank account management versus what is often considered the harder or the more sophisticated areas like FX or risk management or things like that?

[ 4:01] Brenda Finch:

For me, the answer is no part of it being the advantage of being in a company that has a very small Treasury Department, are you do kind of have to do it all you don’t have a choice. So I’m also a Certified Risk Manager. I manage our insurance portfolio I deal with the banks, I have to take care of all of it. Not really an option to push stuff off to anybody else.

[ 4:32 ] Bobbi Cadena:

I want to say yes to that. I know when I first started in Treasury, it was doing the cash management, ACH, wires. I’m the type of person that gets bored really easily when I can do something and I’m alright, I know this. What else? Lucky for me, our senior Treasury analyst had found another role and all of his work got put on me. And then we started going through the oil and gas crisis in our team just kept getting smaller and smaller and smaller to where I was doing everything. And I can tell you now I prefer the harder stuff. It’s more challenging. It keeps my mind thinking, it keeps me on top of things. But if it wasn’t for kind of this oil and gas crisis happening, I would have been stuck kind of just doing the cache management stuff.

[ 5:23 ] Tracey Knight:

That kind of lends itself to a follow-up question, Brenda, you mentioned how at a smaller company, you can’t help but need to do everything. What do you think are the implications for people as they think about their career paths, about working at a large company, where maybe you get more specialized in an area and maybe deeper in it, versus a smaller company where you have broad exposure to everything happening in Treasury.

[ 5:50 ] Brenda Finch:

Based upon what I’ve talked to people that have worked at the bigger companies, I think the opportunities for you and the growth available to you by going with a small company, the amount of knowledge you can obtain is so much more than the people I know that left smaller companies and went to a larger one. Somebody we both know, Jessica and she went and they found they were doing the same thing. All-day long, sending wires and ACH is literally all day long. I would be just shooting it. Being with a smaller company where Yes, you are always on the go. You can’t stop breathing some days. My favorite saying is I tell people I’m having a pinball machine day. Because that’s how my brain feels like a pinball is bouncing around in it. You have more of those days. But it’s never boring. Yep, do you want to comment on it?

[ 6:53 ] Bobbi Cadena:

So, being with the DXP and getting to build out the Treasury team, I haven’t had any boring days. There are some days that I do wish some of my analysts knew the information that I knew that I could put off some of this work on them. But it’s definitely fun trying to build this team out but also difficult when hiring because of what like you said treasury such a broad aspect. Some people only know how to date ACH is and why are some people only ever worked with LC some people only ever did cash forecasting. And they don’t know all the other buckets where it’s really hard to find somebody that kind of has touched on everything. And you definitely do see that in the smaller companies because you’re it you’re the person that has to do it all.

[ 7:39 ] Brenda Finch:

When I interviewed for the job at citation, the headhunter said I was literally ended up being the only person they interviewed, that met all the requirements the company was looking for.

[ 7:55 ] Tracey Knight:

So sometimes working at a smaller company really can be an advantage, especially, you know, and from your perspective, Bobbi having become Treasurer now, which positions or what kind of knowledge Do you think really best help you advance into a role where now you know, it’s all you, you’re responsible for everything.

[ 8:14 ] Bobbi Cadena:

So, I would have to say going through the bankruptcy at swift energy threw me into this whole other world of things I didn’t know about. It was the worst and best situation that ever happened for me. Because it forced me to learn all of these other aspects of Treasury that I didn’t really know a lot about. And I would definitely say, you know, bank covenants and credit facilities and you know, credit agreements, having to read through 200-page credit agreement to get the information that you need for know when you’re getting audited, definitely helped me just be a stronger person in my role. Also, just continuing knowledge, continuing education, coming to these events, meeting other people that are in your field that you can talk to, and you know, kind of pick their brain Oh, what are you doing at your company or how are you making things better for your company, you’re super helpful.

[ 9:14 ] Tracey Knight:

Brenda, along those same lines, you know, if you were giving someone advice, particularly to a young woman, and for that matter, how maybe would your advice maybe even be different between a young woman and a young man starting off their careers in finance and Treasury, What do you think is a key piece of advice or something that you think might help them grow their careers?

[ 9:37 ] Brenda Finch:

One of the things is, and this isn’t just Treasury, this is anything and this was something I really had to work on. I can talk a lot you may have noticed, but learn to listen, I know it goes back to covey, it goes back to the basics. But people don’t listen anymore. They don’t really hear, they’re too busy thinking about what they want to say, to really hear you. And I’ve sat in meetings, my was my boss for a while at the company I met, I sat in a meeting, there were four of us. And I had spent a long, the past couple of years working on this particular issue, I’m sitting in a meeting and the other two people that are talking to our boss, I’m just laughing inside because I can tell both they are just like, just can’t wait. They want to talk so bad, that they’re not hearing. And that may seem kind of basic. But it is important, and it’s a skill that is being ignored.

[ 10:54 ] Bobbi Cadena:

Bobbi, so my advice to the younger male or female getting into finance, or Treasury is to understand what they’re doing and why they’re doing it and how what they do impacts every other department around them. Some people mean, especially when I started with DXP when I’m trying to build out a treasury team. So I have to go to API, I have to go to AR, I have to go to tax, I have to go to payroll, and I’m like, here’s this information I need. Why do you need it? Here’s you, can you give me what happened in payroll over the last six, eight months? What for? So my advice would be to understand your role, understand, this is what I’m doing. And here’s why I’m doing it. Here’s how it impacts the company. Understanding your role, you have no idea how many people I’ve interviewed when I say, how does Treasury impact AR and AP blink stares, couldn’t tell me have no idea. That should be kind of one of the first things you should know about what Treasury does for a company. So that’s my advice. Learn what you’re doing, understand what you’re doing, and how you impact other departments, and how other departments impact what you’re doing.

[ 12:10 ] Tracey Knight:

Brenda, you mentioned that you were the only applicant who kind of met and checked all the boxes, and made me think of something that you often hear. And I know it’s a little bit stereotypical. So don’t, you know, beating me over the head if it doesn’t apply to you. But you often hear and see that women often exhibit let’s call it a certain lack of confidence when it comes to looking for certain types of jobs. We will read the job description and say well, okay, I’ve done that. But haven’t done that, haven’t done that, haven’t done that. But yet men often will look at it see one thing that they’ve done and say, Oh, I can do that job and go for it. So how do you think younger women should become a little bolder and more proactive and the things that we go after.

[ 12:57 ] Bobbi Cadena:

I’ve only had, quite frankly, a couple of jobs. Wow. Maybe Bobbi would like to go first?

[ 13:08 ] Bobbi Cadena:

Sure, I can be the first person to tell you that I’m guilty of doing that to myself. When I was initially approached by a recruiter for the treasurer job at DXP. My first thoughts were, they’re gonna look at me and laugh. I’m not a white male, I’m a Hispanic female, and I look super young. So there, you know, why would they even be interested in interviewing me. But once I read the job description, and I understood that you know, there’s a new CFO on the company, and he’s younger, and he’s looking for a younger crowd, a more innovative crowd. And he wanted to change the pace of how the company was going. After looking at that, and looking at what I can do all of this stuff, I know all of this stuff, I can handle it and, and I had to take myself and say, you know, just because you don’t fit the usual treasure, you know, mold, you can still do this. So never sell yourself short. always tell yourself, it’s something you can do and go for it.

[ 14:13 ] Brenda Finch:

I guess the thing be prepared to fight for yourself. Yep. Be prepared to say why. Okay, yes, valid point. I have not worked with that system yet. However, I have worked with this and this, and I have shown through my career, the ability to adapt rapidly learn how to apply my existing knowledge to a new system. I can do it.

[ 14:39 ] Tracey Knight:

So Bobbi, you mentioned your CFO being you know, a younger man who was maybe looking to do some things differently to really change the whole way that DXP works. How do you think other people can help? I guess let’s call it to change the system either women support other women or for that matter, how can men help some furthering more and more gender equality within the workplace.

[ 15:05 ] Bobbi Cadena:

I definitely think it takes a specific mindset. So for instance, our CFO, prior to the CFO who’s there now, you know, much older, very set in his ways, you know, every mom and pop shop mindset, you know, this is how we’ve always done it, why does anything need to change? I really think it depends on the person who is in the role to have that mindset. Definitely big on woman empowerment. And he hired all female controllers, which is kind of unheard of, for a company, you know, like ours were heavy. At the time were heavy in oil and gas, and it’s a male-dominated field, I felt that he really went out of his way to put people in different positions to not only give us versatility and do you know, different dynamic, but show you let these women show what they can do. And you know, our company is lightyears away from where it was four years ago. So definitely think it’s the mindset.

[ 16:07 ] Tracey Knight:

And a survey by Treasury today, group 47% of the respondents said that they didn’t feel they were paid similarly to their male colleagues, you know, even today, this kind of gender pay disparity still exists, how should women voice their concerns and requirements to begin addressing this? And maybe how have you maybe address some situations in your own career, as you’ve looked to advance and make sure you’re getting what you should?

[ 16:36 ] Bobbi Cadena:

So I can take that off. So, this is something that I’m very passionate about myself, I’m huge on researching. I’m huge on doing my due diligence before presenting any information, but also with being a manager that hires knowing the different pay scales and the different who’s getting paid what. So not only when we offer somebody a role, but as for myself, you know, oh, that’s, you know, this is the raise, you’re giving me, Hey, here’s all this data that I’ve compiled that shows you, I should be getting this much more and standing up for yourself, basically, you know, saying, hey, I’ve been doing the research, I’ve talked to these different firms, recruiting firms, here’s where I should be at why are you offering this and not that.

[ 17:21 ] Tracey Knight:

So having the information really being prepared is key? Yes. Okay, if the survey, they put salaries out there, there’s all kinds of information available, make sure you check it out. So I’m already getting the buzzer, that we’ve only got a couple of minutes left. So let’s move into the lightning round and try to give some really fast answers, even though you might want to elaborate a little bit more. So here’s a question that men never get, how do you balance your home life and your work life, regardless of your professional aspirations? You know, what’s the one key thing that you do for yourself to maintain balance?

[ 18:02 ] Brenda Finch:

When I was raising my kids, I just communicate with my boss, make him understand my parties, which happily, I had a boss that cared about family, and I had the flexibility, you have to go into it with the understanding, you need flexibility, any parent does, quite frankly.

[ 18:23 ] Bobbi Cadena:

I have to definitely agree on the flexibility. Any role I’ve gone into with being a single mother, raising a child by myself, just saying, Hey, I will bust my butt to get this work done. But I need you to be flexible with me. If I need to work from home one day, or my daughter’s sick, or I have a doctor’s appointment, but I can guarantee you the work is going to get done. And it’s going to be the best work I can give you.

[ 18:48 ] Brenda Finch:

We actually had a little fall room across my office and I had a TV with a built-in VCR, and I would bring my kid with me. Yeah, and I would put them in the room with the TV and the VCR said do not let anyone know you exist.

[ 19:07 ] Tracey Knight:

So do you think that’s going to be the long-lasting kind of biggest benefit of this past year’s current pandemic, is the additional flexibility that you have with your job? Or do you think it’ll be something else?

[ 19:21 ] Brenda Finch:

I think that’s gonna be a big one. Because I think more and more people are going to insist on it and at least give me the option of having a work at home. They on occasion, even if it’s not practical to have to work from home all the time.

[ 19:36 ] Bobbi Cadena:

I agree. I think it’s going to be a long-term solution that sticks and companies can see that the work still gets done, things are still getting taken care of. Even with so many people working from home.

[ 19:47 ] Brenda Finch:

You can even be more efficient sometimes because if you’ve got if you’re given that six-hour window where the repairman is going to show up at your house, you can work instead of being sitting at home and not getting anything done.

[ 20:01 ] Tracey Knight:

So last question. If you could talk to your younger self, what would you say about succeeding as a woman in finance and treasury?

[ 20:13 ] Bobbi Cadena:

Maintain your confidence. Do you know you can do it, do it.

[ 20:19 ]Brenda Finch:

Do that, and know that you can be strong. And still, be impactful. And still, there’s a lot of women out there that got to places of leadership in a very hard male-dominated world. And they felt like, quite frankly, they had to be super hard-ass to be respected. You don’t have to be. And there’s a lot, there’s a lot of women out there tell you, I don’t want to work for a woman. And that’s, I think the result of that, is because women are afraid of coming off as being too soft. Or to this. You have to do your job you do have, you can’t just go for every sob story. I’m coming, someone comes across. But you don’t have to be the B-word either. To be a, you know, be the good B-word, be a good boss and again listen.

[ 21:26 ] Tracey Knight:

Okay, so here we are at our last eight minutes, which means I let it go a little bit over. So let’s open it up to the audience and take your questions for our panel. The drinks will still be there.

[ 21:50 ] Questioner:

You both were part of establishing a new Treasury Department. So what was the most challenging thing that you have to face on putting upon a new brand new treasury department? I’m sorry, I couldn’t quite hear you. Well, what were the challenges of starting a new treasury department? There was a whole lot.

[ 22:11 ] Bobbi Cadena:

So I basically came into a company that never had a treasury department. Everything was done by the controller and the old CFO at the time. People wouldn’t listen to me, people wouldn’t take me serious. They wouldn’t give me stuff I needed. Bad basically gets ignored, or why what do you need this for? Or they were scared that I was trying to take their job. Or they didn’t know why they were doing this thing that they did every single day that a lot of people would go behind me and go straight to our controller. Oh, she’s asking for this. Oh, she’s why she needs is why she knew that. And he would have to say, give her what she needs gave her what she’s asking for. It took probably about a year before people kind of started understanding. I wasn’t going anywhere and that they just needed to cooperate because I had something that I needed to get done and the management team was 100% behind me.

[ 23:10 ] Brenda Finch:

That my day-to-day comment to my coworker was you do what? Because it was all extremely manual. It was printed out then retype all the numbers in and they had photocopy wire forms and photocopy ACH forms in which they with little adding machine tape stapled to the corner. And I’m not joking, literally with what? No, no, no. So, it was truly in the dark ages. It was very, very antiquated. And I came from a system that we designed where we had everything pretty automated. And so that was hard. And again, same thing, people. I report up to the controller, and we had an assistant controller and the person that does a lot of accounting stuff before reported to the assistant controller. And so people would HR be the worst about it. I would ask them a question and whenever they reply back to me, they copy her. Like she has nothing to do with this whatsoever, she is not my boss. And they still do it, pretty numerous, but things like that are really difficult. I do a lot of stuff directly with the CFO. I do a lot of stuff with the general counsel. Our insurance program is kind of like the upside-down pyramid. You know, normal business, you got the top. You have the boss at the top and everybody else down at the bottom. Ours is the other way at the bottom and a report up to everybody, it’s kind of hard as opposed to really working just directly with one person. Those are probably the biggest challenges.

[ 25:09 ] Questioner:

I got one more question we talked about digital transformation injury. Right, so what is the one area that you think is ready for disruption in Treasury? One, one thing that’s ready for digital transformation, for disruption, I think he said, for this disruptive disruption.

[ 25:45 ] Brenda Finch:

Okay. I would like to eliminate checks. That’s what we’re working on right now is we’re trying to I mean, we literally have little old ladies that come in and sit in a room.

[ 25:51] Bobbi Cadena:

So, I have to sign them. So Oh! yes, I’m sorry, that for 20 years, that’s been probably one of the harder things to try to get rid of is, I don’t know why we’re trying to move people more and more to act, or credit card payment. But we’re holding on to those checks.

[ 26:14 ] Brenda Finch:

I will say this, I think that’s one of the side effects of COVID, though, is increasing the readiness of people to accept that shave off that alpha amount by taking the credit card, because guess what, that credit card isn’t sitting in my mailroom. And there was a lot of that going on this past year, I mean, people, insurance companies, nobody was coming into the office. And they’d have to send one person in the office once a week to go through all the mail so they could get their checks that people didn’t send to their lockbox and process. Um, so I do think that code, one of the benefits to our industry of COVID is going to be increased acceptance of electronic payments. So maybe that transformation that we’ve been talking about for the last 25 years I’ve been doing this is actually going to have a boost forward.

[ 27:19 ] Questioner:

So thanks for telling your story, super interesting. I feel like the more I talk to folks about what’s happening in the industry, from a disruption perspective, the need for technology is undeniable. But it’s also undeniable that Treasury rarely has access to or as a priority, a priority for the IT teams. Have you guys ever considered it, was there any conversation about having a dedicated treasury IT resource and making that a position that you would fill on your team?

[ 27:39 ] Bobbi Cadena:

So I had that at Swift, we did have my prior company, we did have a dedicated one or two resources that only worked on treasury-type functionalities. Because of our ransomware attack, so DXP was hit with ransomware back in August, it has completely transformed for us and we can ask them for anything. They turn their phones off, we can only access them through email. And then, of course, they weren’t working in the office, they were all remote. So is it something that I wish that we could have? Yes, it’s something that I would suggest in the future? Yes. But I do know, some companies do have IT resources that are directly for treasury or finance.

[ 28:41 ] Brenda Finch:

I think great, be great. We don’t have it. I program. And so that’s kind of I’m kind of our IT resource is I’ve designed our systems. Yeah, some we have the Brenda gets hit by a bus scenario, where we say that that could be really bad because I don’t know if somebody else could come in and manage it. But I would love to have a dedicated resource, especially when we’re looking at trying to implement stuff unfortunately there. So would every other department in our company.

[ 29:25 ] Tracey Knight:

I definitely see it in a lot of really larger enterprise companies but in the mid-market to small just a couple billion dollars or so in revenue. Treasury teams are so lean that they just don’t have it resources. And I think when you think that to Sasha’s presentation today, that’s the direction that software of all types is being forced to deal with is making integration and things easier so that the average employee can do it so that you don’t need an IT resource. And that’s the general idea behind the newer technologies and things like APIs, I don’t think it’s fully realized yet, that there’s usually still some area that you’re going to need IT helps with. But we’re getting closer and closer to that all the time, whereas just a regular person, the user interfaces will be intuitive enough, so that the mapping or whatever needs to take place can be done by you and I, in this younger generation is, you know, a whole nother level of tech-savviness. So where I don’t think it’s going to require a specialized IT person. So I think things are changing, but we’re not quite there yet.

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