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Education in Treasury - An interview with Benjamin Defays

Q: Tell us a little bit about your journey into treasury and how you got involved in education:

A: I landed in Treasury by chance about 10 years ago. A recruitment company called to offer me a job in finance while I was looking for a change professionally, but not sure what kind of change exactly at the time. I even declined the offer at first, stating I knew nothing about finance and that it would be a waste of time for all of us. They insisted by telling me that their client was looking for someone young, with a similar educational background as mine (bachelor in business management), and with some foreign languages skills, willing to learn. I accepted to give it a try, and the more interviews I got in, the more the job description was speaking to me. I then started my treasury journey with Schneider Electric, headquartered in Rueil-Malmaison (France), that was building a small finance & treasury team in Luxembourg. On my very first day I had to quickly google “Cash pooling” as I had been hearing this word over and over during the day without knowing what it was. This was my very first step into treasury self-learning, which I did a lot and still do today. I was lucky enough to be in a company willing to invest in me and my future, so Schneider offered me the chance to participate into several treasury courses organized by AFTE (the French association of Corporate Treasurers) based in Paris. I was even surprised there were associations in Treasury! I participated to quite a few of those, even passed some of their certified path, and kept learning on the field. What a great experience!

Q: What about treasury education offering in Luxembourg?

Returning to Luxembourg, I felt there was an issue and a lack in the treasury education offering. I was starting to truly appreciate how important treasury was as a function globally, and the increasing need for it for all companies, so I was quite surprised this wasn’t existing in a financial hub like Luxembourg. It was either online or in Paris, and each time quite expensive with intense time dedication.

I searched a bit and found that there was a similar association in Luxembourg: ATEL. I decided to participate to one of their conferences, and quickly noticed it was very active in the treasury field. I knew literally no one at that conference and decided to take my courage and approach the chairman of the association and share my findings with him. He told me straight away that he agreed there was a gap and asked me if I wanted to run an initiative together to make things change.

A few months after that conversation, I was added to the board of the association in charge of education and the sustainability of the treasury function in Luxembourg. I started by travelling to Rennes to visit IGR IAE where a Treasury cursus in the Finance Master is being held, talking to their students and praise Treasury in Luxembourg. The goal was to attract talents to the Luxembourg treasury market place and help it be sustainable. As I speak, we’re still exploring other universities where we could go and spread the treasury message to future talents to come and work in Luxembourg. If you know schools or universities where we could go to and spread the treasury word, please let us know!

Q: How did you address this educational gap?

We started to discuss the potential to create a treasury course with the House Of Training’s (HoT) help and quickly started to collaborate by building the content of the soon to become International Treasury Management certified path.

We are very happy and satisfied to have learned from experience and fine-tuned the cursus with feedback received from participants along the way, and the various learning environment changes, such as during the pandemic. We understood that while the cursus is relatively cheap compared to other similar ones, the investment in time both for the participant and the employer was too heavy.

As we speak, we are in the middle of the 3rd edition and have come along quite a few changes since the inception of the cursus: it is now hybrid (remote & physical, with day & evening classes), split into two different paths (fundamentals and advanced), an exam for the fundamentals, a case study for the advanced path...

To see the course, click on the link below:

Q: What about online courses?

The learning landscape is still changing a lot and going towards more and more self-learning. Therefore started to emerge the idea of an online course where anyone, wherever they sit, and whenever they want, could attend a course at their own pace.

360 Cross Media quickly helped us build and co-founded with us a self-learning platform called “” where both technical and soft skills training videos are available, with new video content being added regularly.

If you’re interested to record a video and share your skills, experience, feel free to reach out! We’re always eager for new content.

Click on the link below to access all Atel online courses:

Q: What’s next for the education and sustainability of the function in Luxembourg?

With these multiple initiatives and offerings, I believe we have a strong and sustainable educational proposal in Luxembourg and beyond when it comes to Treasury training programs.

We need to put more efforts into the sustainability of the function by attracting talents and companies to Luxembourg by increasing offer and demand all together, speaking to companies during conferences and visiting schools to inform students about the function and the market place in Luxembourg. I see a real long-term risk when I hear about the struggle to recruit, and the cost of it for companies willing to establish their treasury centres in Luxembourg.

Benjamin Defays, Senior Associate Vice President, Treasury - Revantage (A Blackstone Company)


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