BDP International and Lilian Burke were a perfect match when she joined in 2018. The company, which operates freight logistics centers in more than 135 countries, was in a growth phase and needed more structure to its financial operations. A veteran treasury executive and strategic thinker, Burke brought deep experience transforming global organizations.
BDP’s vice president and corporate treasurer spent nearly three decades contributing to teams and leading treasury functions in financial services, manufacturing, healthcare, pharmaceutical, and other complex sectors. Burke came to BDP for the chance to build its treasury department from the ground up. “I specialize in creating the right kind of a department to take an organization forward, and I knew I could make a real impact here,” she says.
In 2018, BDP’s growth had amassed nearly $3 billion in annual sales. Each day, its employees worked behind the scenes to manage the thousands of time-sensitive payments and confirmations to enable shipments and other activities.
Small, regional teams not only endured time-consuming manual processes to make it all work, but also navigated cumbersome and inefficient structures. At one point, BDP used sixty banks and five hundred different accounts. “Innovation is key,” Burke says. “A streamlined treasury department can reduce costs and help an organization thrive.”
That’s what she set out to do. Burke spent her first ninety days observing the current state to identify risk and align her goals with BDP’s overall strategy. After understanding the cash cycle, payment process, and banking structure, she created a prioritized action plan.
That plan hinged on getting the right team in place. Burke hired three treasury managers, assigned them to different geographical regions, and spent time working with her counterparts across BDP to offer her support and solicit their input for her plan. She used what she learned from these important conversations to refine her initiatives, and then moved to simplify banking relationships. She negotiated better prices and reduced the number of BDP’s banking partners from sixty to three.
Burke also moved BDP’s payables to a cloud-based platform that sends payment files directly to banks over a secure system in accordance with international regulations. By replacing multiple bank portals with one uniform model, she’s given her team greater visibility over outgoing cash flows and increased their ability to manage and track all accounts. The new solution also reduces input errors, speeds up shipments, and increases client satisfaction.
These efforts have helped BDP maintain strong partnerships with banks and clients despite ongoing supply chain issues and challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other world events. “Our customers trust us to deliver, and a new treasury department has helped BDP do that even in uncertain times,” Burke says.
As she continues to refine the plan, the experienced treasury leader looks to give everyone on her team the chance to grow and evolve. “I don’t view leadership as a quest for title or power,” she says. “I’m here to help people get the resources they need to perform well and realize their full potential.” BDPs’ lean treasury function affords her colleagues the chance to develop new skills, and Burke hopes those working with her will go on to lead their own departments in the future.
Throughout her career, Burke benefited from bosses and leaders, who made similar investments in her own professional growth. Born in Chile, she came to the United States at age twenty-one to continue her college education. After graduation, she started her career as a credit analyst at JPMorgan, and then moved to Tyco Toys, beginning her experience in treasury management.
As she moved through different industries and worked in companies owned by private equity firms, Burke learned how to work efficiently within different financial structures to bring the kind of value shareholders expect. During a five-year stint at Archroma, she developed the treasury management structure for the Americas region, formed all key banking relationships, and supported the chemicals company’s aggressive growth plan.
With all that she’s achieved in her long and distinguished career, Burke has her sights set on a new goal: board service. “We’re still seeing a huge lack of representation for women and diversity when it comes to leading corporations, and it’s time to change that,” she says.
While she looks for new opportunities to leverage her skills, the VP remains committed to further aligning BDP’s treasury function to the organization’s overall goals. Today, the company has emerged as one of the world’s biggest logistics providers, with 5,400 BDP employees serving over 5,000 customers. Burke and her high-performing treasury team will help drive continued growth.
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