About Alison Belot
MAppFin(Macq) GDipAcc(Deakin) BEc(La Trobe)
Alison was previously Vice President at BHP Billiton in the Group Treasury and has over twenty years experience in numerous treasury and risk management roles. She has spent time in both bank treasuries and consulting, having worked for KPMG, ANZ and Security Pacific National Bank.
Alison joined BHP Billiton in 1998, and has worked in Treasury (Melbourne and London) in both a Front Office and Corporate Finance capacity, as well as in Group Reporting (Melbourne and Singapore) and Marketing (The Hague), where she received extensive exposure to commodity price risk management.
Interview with Alison Belot, 2014
Alison has shared with us her time as a student, her experience with the program and her hopes as an Academic in an interview below.
Your teaching centre/s:
Sydney and Melbourne
Why choose to teach students of the Macquarie Applied Finance Centre?
I had done lecturing in the past for other Melbourne-based universities. I have always enjoyed it and am a big fan of the Macquarie program, so when the opportunity came up, it was too good to pass up.
Choose six words to describe the typical student of the Master of Applied Finance:
Focused, dedicated, enthusiastic, hard working, disciplined
Are you a Graduate of Macquarie University?
If so, what are your qualification/s?
Bachelor of Economics, Graduate Diploma in Accounting, Master of Applied Finance
What is your current job? What are your areas of responsibility?
I currently work for BHP Billiton in London, running the Treasury Operations team, so focus is on deal execution and settlement, for all of our cash management, short term funding, interest rate risk management and foreign exchange risk management activities
For how many years have you worked in banking and finance roles?
Pretty much my whole career, so the better part of 30 years
In which industry sectors, and in what types of banking and finance institutions or corporations, have you worked?
I started out in the treasury department of a major insurance company, moved into a front office role at one of the American Investment Banks, then to one of the Australian banks. I then worked in consulting (treasury and financial risk management) for three years before moving to BHP treasury in 1998
Choose six words to describe your teaching style and the benefits you bring to the Units of Study you teach:
Collaborative, current focus (what are corporate treasuries dealing with now), very practical (not at all theoretical), open discussion, case study based.
At the end of this course I would hope students would have a much better understanding of the things that occur on a day-to-day basis in a corporate treasury and the major issues we are currently dealing with.
What challenges are faced, and what changes do you see typically, in MAppFin students during the course of teaching your Unit/s of Study?
The biggest challenge that I think the students face, and I know I did, was finding the right balance between work, study and family (and friends). By the time we get out of work, get the study done, there is so little time left over. You really have to work hard to get that balance right and make sure you are leaving enough time for your families, friends and most importantly, yourself (this is the one we tend to forget about).
How has your business network helped your career progression?
My business network, both within BHP Billiton and in the wider finance community has been essential in developing my career. Knowing who to go to when you need to understand something better, where to get information from, or just to have someone to talk an issue through with, is invaluable. The network you get through Macquarie is a very valuable resource; the students come from such a wide cross section of companies and industries, many that you would not meet under normal circumstances. Make the most of it!
What industry networking groups or other professional industry associations in your area of finance specialisation would you recommend your students join?
As I am currently London based I find the (UK) Association of Corporate Treasurers to be excellent. Their professional program is the closest I’ve seen in terms of content to the Macquarie program, and the work they do on current industry topics is fantastic. The are well supported with members right through Europe and into Asia, so any functions they run are very well worth attending.
What areas of research would you like to see developed in the banking and finance sectors?
Anything corporate treasury related, but right now I think more needs to be done on derivative reporting. We have Dodd Frank (in USA) and EMIR (in Europe), with many countries including Australia working on their own version. We risk ending up with multiple reporting requirements, all looking for similar (but different) data, There is an opportunity to streamline here and align requirements in multiple jurisdictions. On top of that, what is going to happen with all the data now that it’s being reported….
What advice would you offer to current students of the MAppFin, who’re less than 10 years into their banking and finance career?
Don’t rush into doing this course, to get the most out of it you need to have some industry experience. Having said that, you also need to be ready to make a move once you have finished (or are close to finishing) the course. Be very clear on where you want to go in your career and how this course will help you get there. Once you know that, don’t be afraid to make it happen. You need to be the one to make that goal happen, no-one is going to hand it to you, you have to know what it is you want and go after it.
Why did you choose to study the Macquarie’s Master of Applied Finance? Where did you hope it would take you in your career?
I looked at a number of courses but Macquarie offered me the most practical (ie non-theoretical) alternative. I wanted a course that had the best mix of theory and current market practice, I wanted to know what was going on in the business world right now, what course would best equip me for working in the financial markets now. I found Macquarie gave me the strong academic theoretical base, but over the top of that was the current (real world) application. I wanted a course that gave me the tools to interpret and understand all the issues, and the ability to stand up and argue for what I believed in.
I was trying to move from a bank treasury to a corporate treasury, which is not easy to do. My masters helped me get into consulting, and then the two combined got me into a world class corporate treasury. The course was a major contributor in me getting the role I was after, but I still had to make it happen.
How has the MAF qualification helped you in your career to date? Which aspects have you found particularly useful?
MAF has been invaluable in me achieving my career goals. Its been a long time since I’ve done my course, and I may have forgotten many of the formulas and theory that I learnt, but the skills that I developed I use every day. The logic, the reasoning, the ability to apply the theoretical to real world situations, for me, that was the most important bit. I can look up formuals, get banks to build pricing models etc, but I need to understand the numbers that come out of them. I need to know what is good and what is bad, a good course of action rather than a poor one, a good price or level rather than a poor one, a good strategy rather than a poor one etc.
What sets Macquarie’s MAF apart from other qualifications?
The quality of the lecturers! I think Macquarie get the mix right, between the theoretical and the practical. When I hire a MAF graduate I know they have that right mix of skills, not all academic or all practical. You need that mix to succeed, and MAF graduates have it.