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What you can learn about career mobility from a global architect at Macquarie

This article was originally published on Technical.ly.


Pragyan Sahoo has built a diverse and stimulating career by running to the door every time opportunity knocks. Over the course of her 12-year career, Pragyan Sahoo has taken the concept of career mobility quite literally.

Originally from India, Sahoo moved to Singapore to get her bachelor’s degree in computer science from Nanyang Technical University. Following her degree, she was offered a job as a senior developer in Singapore. Three years after that, when opportunity knocked in Sydney, Australia, she answered, taking a dynamic role that would lead to her advancement as an architect. Six years and an MBA from the University of New South Wales later, she landed her current role of global architect in asset management in Philadelphia.

The most unexpected part of her story? She’s only ever worked for one company: Macquarie.

“Though Macquarie’s values remain constant, it doesn’t feel like you’re working for the same company when you are working in different parts of the world,” said Sahoo, whose job title of “architect” means that she oversees the strategy and execution of the entire global technology landscape of a business. “When your experiences are global, none of them are quite the same.”

A global organization based in Australia, Macquarie is one of the largest infrastructure asset managers in the world. With locations in 30 markets, employees can simultaneously move their career forward and around the globe.

Offering exposure to different cultures and business experiences, Macquarie has been a match made in heaven for technologists like Pragyan, who prefer their careers come with a side of adventure.

We had the chance to sit down and chat with Pragyan about her approach to career mobility and taking risks.


What is your philosophy on career growth, and how does Macquarie support you in that growth?

At Macquarie, we encourage our employees to “Fuel the entrepreneur within.” That’s what I advise my team members to do — to think about where they want to go and to drive that path.

My career moves weren’t just about going to new countries, but working in new, challenging environments and with different business groups. Working in new environments gives you a different mindset. Growth is about what you take away from all your different experiences.

I also believe in having a learning mindset. Leadership at Macquarie supports and encourages you to seek out continuous learning opportunities, whether a course or training program or new degree. For instance, while in Sydney, Macquarie was very supportive and flexible as I worked full-time and worked toward my MBA part-time.


You’ve taken some pretty bold leaps in your career so far. How did you make decisions regarding which career opportunities to follow?

I was open to considering any and all opportunities available.  Nothing was off the table. I just kept diving into the next thing.

I grew up in India and had always wanted to see what it was like getting an education from a top university, so I took the plunge and moved to Singapore.

Right out of school, I got a job at Macquarie. I worked in Singapore for three and a half years, which gave me a feel for the company and its culture. At one point, my boss indicated an opportunity to work on a large project that was open in Sydney, so I said, “Why not?” and raised my hand.

I spent six years in Sydney, and every year I worked on something different. For instance, the projects became more sophisticated with multiple streams. I started off working on only one stream. Eventually my boss threw a different stream at me and I ran with it. By the next year I was leading a stream. A manager saw my efforts and thought I would do well in architecture, so he began sharing best practice and teaching me how it worked. A year later I was doing it on my own. Then I got the opportunity for a bigger role in Philadelphia as global architect. Again, I jumped at it.


Tell us what it’s like to walk in your shoes for a day?

Right now, I manage multiple teams — about 15 to 20 people — across the globe.

There are really two main elements to what I do. There’s driving strategic initiatives and oversight of execution.

In terms of strategy, I speak with the businesses we work with to understand where they want to go and how our technology can get them there most efficiently. We’re always thinking about how we can add value to the business and our clients.

On the execution side, I oversee the teams that are delivering on the strategy we define for our clients. I help them dissect complex technical problems, review solution designs and offer guidance.

Every day is a little different, but I might do anything from catching up with my direct reports to running discussions, workshops and sessions for our global teams. I research platforms and technologies in the industry. And I meet with business executives and stakeholders to articulate the challenges and their solutions.


What do you look for in job candidates?

In general, we want people who are as curious about the business — financial services, asset management, etc. — as they are about technology. We want our people to know why they’re doing what they’re doing.

Tech is so fast paced, you really need a learning mindset to be successful in the industry. It’s important for people to be adaptable and to meet challenges head on.

Macquarie — which has over 15,000 employees globally — is an enterprise that will allow you to be autonomous, work independently and make an impact while not getting lost in the crowd. We value diversity of thinking and appreciate people who can take ownership of a task. I’ll provide all the help that is needed for my team, but I really want to see that people can run with things themselves.


How has moving from one continent to the next affected your personal life?

My entire family is based in India. At first, my parents were very protective and worried about my move.

Now they’ve adjusted to the fact that I’m not moving back anytime soon. But they’re very proud of what I’ve accomplished.

And actually, my family has grown since I started working here! I met my husband in Sydney. We just got married last year. We’d both taken advantage of the professional opportunities we were given. I think that’s one of the biggest reasons we clicked, we have a similar mindset toward getting out there and exploring.

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