In pursuit of excellence

Feb 19, 2018
As a mum of three and International Treasurer for Intel Corporation with direct reports around the globe, Naomi Holland FCA is responsible for a lot of moving parts. In this article, she explains her management style, her strategy for continuing delivery of excellence, and observations from her non-executive experience.

When Naomi Holland took a career break in 2008 to focus on raising her young family, she had already made a big impact at Intel. The PwC-trained Chartered Accountant had joined the organisation’s Finance Department in 1996 before rising to the position of Treasurer for Intel Corporation’s EMEA business.

Seven years later, Naomi re-joined the multinational as International Treasurer with responsibility for all treasury-related activity outside the US – a move that was both challenging and rewarding. “Like all full-time working parents, it’s difficult to maintain balance between work and family but I was fortunate in that my ‘return to work’ challenge was greatly reduced given I was re-joining Intel as opposed to a new organisation,” she said. “Strong homecare structures and military-style organisation and planning skills are of paramount importance, as are strong management skills at work,” she said. 

Naomi’s current role involves the investment of Intel’s surplus cash, foreign exchange risk management, treasury operations, regulatory compliance, structured financing and supporting the business more generally. This requires a great deal of international travel and working within different time zones, but she is thankful for the flexibility the role offers her – despite its many demands.

Naomi is also hopeful that progress on increasing female participation in the workforce generally will continue into the future. “This demands access to quality, affordable childcare and flexible working arrangements. Both Government and employers have crucial roles to play in the provision of these.”

Doing less with less

Flexibility is a central theme of Naomi’s role. A current mantra in Intel’s treasury department is to do ‘less with less’ by re-engineering, streamlining and, importantly, eliminating activities to balance value creation with resource and cost realities. “This requires us to consider increasing our risk appetite in certain areas,” she said. “We also maintain our focus on supporting Intel’s growth strategy more generally but notably in emerging markets, where it has substantial manufacturing and R&D facilities in China, Malaysia, Vietnam and India. These operating and regulatory environments continue to evolve and always have the potential to surprise as they react to changes in economic and political events – both locally and globally. Then a separate and more immediate focus of mine is working through the implications of recent US tax reform,” she adds.

Management style

Managing teams in China, India, Israel and the Netherlands while supporting Intel’s business strategy takes a lot of co-ordination, but Naomi’s clear management style leaves no room for misunderstanding.

First, she ensures that Intel’s international treasury organisation operates as a single team and reflects Intel’s overarching business strategy. “I value structured engagement and clear, timely communication,” she says. “This applies to engagements with my team, the Treasurer, and my internal and external business partners, customers and suppliers. It’s also of huge importance to me that I set the right tone for the organisation, which I describe as continuing delivery of excellence with an awareness that people are my best asset. Then, it’s about leading from the front, providing facetime – which I prioritise over other forms of communication – where appropriate, encouraging my directors to engage me in challenges early, remaining adaptable, re-evaluating priorities and right-sizing resources as required.”

Boardroom observations

Naomi has extensive board experience both in her capacity as a senior executive and in various non-executive director roles. Based on her experience, there are a number of items which she views as key to enabling board success. “First, increased globalisation means successful boards must fully comprehend evolving trends and challenges within their organisation’s ecosystem. This includes global political, regulatory and industry-focused issues. The board’s strategic goals should reflect these and, of course, a flexible approach to re-evaluating these goals must be maintained at all times.

“Second, it’s now imperative that boards are structured to capitalise on the augmented value created by ensuring appropriate diversity within its membership. And third, a board’s ability to manage the overall communications challenge is vital. It needs to be timely, effective, honest and balanced,” adds Naomi. “We operate in a world of open, frequent, complex and often unintended communication. While we have always understood this as it applies to our personal lives, it’s imperative that we apply this principle to our corporate lives.”

Naomi Holland FCA is the International Treasurer for Intel Corporation.

This article was originally published in Vision, the e-zine for members in business. Download your copy now.