Celebrating #IWD: Interview with Olga Gayevskaya, Director of Treasury Operations and DACT board member

Author Daryl Ong
March 13, 2024

International Women’s Day (IWD) is dedicated to highlighting the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of females in the workplace.

To celebrate IWD this year, we interviewed a series of successful women – discussing their careers and empowering others to get ahead in their industry.

Inspired by this year’s theme, “Investing in women: Accelerate progress”, we sat down with Olga Gayevskaya, Director of Treasury Operations at VEON – an Amsterdam-based telecommunications company – and board member for the Dutch Association of Corporate Treasurers (DACT) .

Olga has over 20 years of expertise in treasury, along with an MBA in Finance. She was born and raised in Kazakhstan to an international family with origins in both Poland and Korea. She’s lived in the Netherlands for the last 10 years and is proud to call it home.

Olga embodies diversity in all aspects and considers herself to be open-minded, keen to drive change and always respectful towards other traditions and cultures. Outside of her work life, she loves traveling, meeting new people and spending time with her family and friends.

Can you tell us about your role?

I have been with VEON for 17 years now. I first joined them as a Senior Expert in Corporate Finance & Risk Management in Kazakhstan, working my way up the ranks and eventually becoming the Director of Treasury Operations at their headquarters (HQ).

As a member of the treasury leadership team, I hold the responsibility of setting a clear and robust treasury strategy. This encompasses the effective management of cash and all associated financial risks pertaining to treasury operations for both VEON HQ and the broader VEON group.

“I like that I can influence and make a positive impact for my colleagues.”

I am deeply committed to driving continuous improvement initiatives in processes, systems, and automation to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. I also ensure strict adherence to established treasury policies, strategies, and controls.

In addition, I manage our Treasury Operations team (both front and back office), some of which are based out of the Netherlands. It is nice how multi-cultural VEON is because it’s interesting to learn about various cultures and to understand, respect and deal with different ways of working.

I also like being in the treasury HQ as it functions as a centre of excellence. I get to see how our other operating companies and regions do things and pick up on the best practices. When local teams need to make a decision or seek help, I am able to utilise this knowledge, create a local solution for them and share suggestions for improvement. I like that I can influence and make a positive impact for my colleagues.

Can you tell us about your career to date?

I started my career in Kazakhstan as an Accountant at an oil and gas pipeline construction company. It was there that I started handling treasury tasks which piqued my passion in treasury. I reported directly to the CEO who was a well-known finance professional in the market. He was a great mentor who guided me and recognised and nurtured my potential.

I’ll never forget how he told me one day that he had taught me everything he could in this role and that he wanted me to grow further but in another organisation. Turns out, he had already spoken to one of his contacts in the market, had recommended me and gotten me the job without me lifting a finger. I accepted and started working for a bank as a Relationship Manager.

“For me, it wasn’t about titles or ranks; it was about diving in a new environment, learning, adding value, and embracing growth.”

Soon after, I realised that I much preferred working on the client side. Even though they wanted me to stay and offered me a promotion, I decided to move back into corporate treasury.

I joined VEON and being ambitious enough in three years I became Head of Cash Management & Risk Management in the Kazakhstan office. My desire for growth and adventure knew no bounds. I decided to seek out new challenges and opportunities to broaden my horizons on the global stage. VEON had a position available in their Amsterdam office and I decided to take it up even though it was a more “junior” position.

For me, it wasn’t about titles or ranks; it was about diving in a new environment, learning, adding value, and embracing growth.

I figured that there are always things to learn. Very luckily for me, another role popped up soon after which I gladly transitioned into – and I’m still with them now. I’m very grateful to VEON for giving me so many opportunities to grow within the organisation over the years, handling different parts of treasury and honing my managerial skills.

Why did you want to become a treasury professional?

In university, I always thought I would end up working in a bank. My theses were always banking related and most of my internships were with banks. However, I decided to take an internship with a corporate who then decided to make a full-time offer to me after a month.

“I value the dynamic nature of treasury work where I can utilise my analytical skills to optimise financial strategies, manage risks, and contribute directly to a company’s financial health and growth.”

In the role I got to learn about treasury as a profession, assisting my CEO with liquidity planning to manage the company’s cash. I’m so happy with how things turned out as I got to dip my toes into the big and interesting world of treasury there. I also gained such a great mentor who really shaped my career trajectory.

What do you value most about working in treasury?

I value the dynamic nature of treasury work where I can utilise my analytical skills to optimise financial strategies, manage risks, and contribute directly to a company’s financial health and growth.

“The role is very varied. Besides the business-as-usual of treasury operations, I get to work on continuous projects improving and streamlining of our processes and systems.”

There are so many challenges in treasury, and it’s never boring. I find it to be the most interesting finance function and highly satisfying. I get to meet and work with many different internal teams located in different countries, external vendors, banks and more.

The role is very varied. Besides the business-as-usual of treasury operations, I get to work on continuous projects improving and streamlining of our processes and systems. I also stay up to date with the latest technology and market trends with the help of the DACT, which connects you with the network full of other treasury professionals like myself.

What key skills do you think treasury professionals need to be successful?

Success in treasury demands a strategic mindset coupled with a keen eye for detail. Effective communication and negotiation skills are essential to ensure your insights are well-received by top management. Embracing new technologies and innovative approaches is crucial, but it’s equally important to maintain a solid foundation in the fundamentals of the field.

“Don’t be afraid to show your personality and voice.”

Treasury is not really a specialised discipline in schools. A lot of the technical skills, strategic thinking and the ability to be detail orientated is learnt on the job. Be open-minded to learn: read articles on LinkedIn, attend conferences and talks. For example, the DACT hosts many sessions in the year that can help with building more knowledge. Even junior treasury professionals can join the Young Treasurers community and attend their boot camps.

My last tip is to be authentically yourself. Know what type of professional you are, your strengths and weaknesses. Surround yourself with people who can help you improve or complement these strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to show your personality and voice.

In light of International Women’s Day, what advice do you have for women considering a career in treasury or trying to get ahead in the industry profession?

This is something I feel very passionately about. So much so that I decided to join the Board of the DACT. When I joined the DACT as a regular member in 2014, there were hardly any women at conferences. I felt inspired to drive change and so stepped up.

In the last two years, I have helped to spearhead a new initiative: a “Women in Treasury” network where we can support and drive female empowerment in the treasury market in the Netherlands. Since we started our initiative more female members joined the DACT and our events are always oversubscribed now!

“It is totally possible for you to help shape the financial landscape of tomorrow be you man or woman.”

There are many successful female treasurers in the market who are also mothers. It is a role where it is very possible to have a work-life balance. I would like female treasurers not to perceive treasury as a male-dominated profession. In many countries worldwide, there are actually more females thriving in treasury roles.

If you’re passionate about numbers, like challenges, are dedicated to continuously expanding your expertise, and want to be on top of the market trends, then treasury is undoubtedly the ideal career path for you. It is totally possible for you to help shape the financial landscape of tomorrow be you man or woman.

If you’d like to discuss your career in treasury, please complete our form below.

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