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Kisha Shabazz: Driving change and a global finance career from Jacksonville

As Assistant Vice President in Macquarie’s Financial Management Group, based in Jacksonville, Florida, Kisha Shabazz has been working on the new global general ledger. Alongside her finance career, she’s also driving change and building pathways to equity through Macquarie’s employee network groups.

Kisha Shabazz is a Jacksonville native. Not only did she grow up in the city, but she also graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration majoring in accounting from the University of North Florida. She then completed a Master of Accounting degree in Forensic Accounting at Florida Atlantic University before qualifying as a Certified Public Accountant.

Kisha’s accounting career began in 2006, working in financial reporting for a number of small companies, before stepping up into a role at a Fortune 400 company. By 2014, she had landed a position in financial control for one of several multinational financial services companies that now have offices in Jacksonville.

“I moved through different industries and into larger companies, while staying in Jacksonville,” Kisha explains. “In 2016, Macquarie opened an office in Jacksonville. A colleague suggested I apply, and the rest is history.”

A natural progression

Kisha says that once she was established in the financial services industry it felt like a natural progression to join Macquarie.

“Macquarie was interesting to me because of its longstanding history of profitability, stability and its range of investments, especially in energy markets.”

“Macquarie is a global company, but the Jacksonville office was smaller, new, and I liked the family-oriented atmosphere.”

New beginnings

In fact, Macquarie’s Jacksonville office was so new that Kisha started in just the second week it was open.

She started in the Financial Management Group (FMG), which is responsible for the integrity and accuracy of Macquarie’s financial records and supports the company’s growth with strategic analysis, reporting and accounting services.

Kisha’s initial role was in product control for trading finance, in which she was responsible for producing the daily profit and loss statements for the energy sector. After two years, she transitioned to lead a small team covering cash equities and credit markets.

In 2019, a career conversation with her manager expressing interest in new opportunities opened the door for Kisha to embrace a move into the general ledger project, where she would be working with other global teams and the Head of Finance for FMG. The project is one of the largest technology implementations in Macquarie’s history. It is of great importance as the general ledger is a record of our accounting and the source of truth for financial and regulatory reporting.

“Macquarie presents many opportunities but it's up to you to take advantage of those opportunities and challenge yourself,” Kisha says.

Global projects with senior stakeholders

Kisha joined the global general ledger project as the subject matter expert for product control. As Assistant Vice President, both she and her team have played a key role in designing and building the ledger, as well as testing and training.

For Kisha, working alongside teams from Australia, India, Europe and Asia on this project means calls can begin early in the morning or held late in the evening. So Kisha schedules her time flexibly, often logging off earlier in the evening or starting later in the morning.

“We went live with the new General Ledger in August 2021 with over 2000 users across finance,” says Kisha. “In the time leading up to launch I was doing last minute testing, wrapping up loose ends, checking design decisions or ensuring solutions were implemented correctly, provided triage and assistance for any issues, prepared training guides, and reported back with updates and recommendations to the global head of Product Control. It was great to see the implementation successfully go live.”

“I’ve picked up new skills like project management, change management, and training over 200 staff during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kisha says.

She believes this experience has also broadened her accountancy knowledge and exposure across the company.

“The role and projects I work on are not limited to Jacksonville,” Kisha explains. “I have a touchpoint across many regions and one of the benefits has been building relationships across cultures. Before the pandemic, I visited Sydney twice as well as Toronto, New York and Gurugram.”

A steep growth trajectory brings opportunity

In just five years, the Jacksonville office has grown tenfold to over 300 staff. It has also expanded beyond FMG and the Corporate Operations Group to include a full range of Macquarie divisions, including the Risk Management Group, Commodities and Global Markets and Macquarie Capital. Kisha says this demonstrates the wider career mobility available within, and beyond, the Jacksonville office.

“Jacksonville started small, and everyone knew each other closely,” Kisha explains. “While the office has grown, we helped shape it, and it still feels like a big family.”

Kisha describes the Jacksonville office as relaxed yet competitive.

It’s the intelligent, caring people that make Macquarie. Everyone inspires each other to become better. Everyone is very engaged and all of Macquarie’s many employee network groups are represented in Jacksonville."

Kisha has made a significant contribution to driving change at Macquarie through several employee network groups. 

“I established and chaired Women@Macquarie in Jacksonville,” Kisha explains. “I was working in Product Control, and we had only two women in the team at the time. Through awareness and commitment from senior leaders, I’ve watched the team and office become more diverse.”

In 2020, Black Lives Matter sparked new conversations, and Kisha was invited to be part of an advisory committee to look at how Macquarie might further address racial equity.

“I’m a part of two key initiatives that resulted from these conversations in the Americas: The Racial Equity Fund and Black Employees @Macquarie (BEAM).”

Kisha now co-chairs BEAM. She also sits on the committee of The Racial Equity Fund, a Macquarie Americas initiative in partnership with the Macquarie Group Foundation in which over $US1 million has been allocated in the form of large multi-year grants to three organizations nominated by Macquarie employees to fund projects that support non-profit leaders and female entrepreneurs of color, and neighborhood-based safety and justice alliances.

I’m proud of these projects because, as a Black woman, these issues are very dear to my heart. It is difficult work, but we’ve had a very positive impact. Race needs to be an integral part of diversity, equity and inclusion, and I’m glad Macquarie and my colleagues have been so receptive."

Career mobility in Jacksonville

Kisha says she has enjoyed being at the forefront of the work with the general ledger project and having the support of senior leaders.

She says that once the global ledger project is complete, she will move into the Risk Management Group (RMG) where she will undertake testing and monitoring for Macquarie Asset Management.

“I am excited to do something completely different, working on a new team in RMG and learning about the company from a compliance perspective.”

Kisha says her own career mobility is a testament to the fact that Macquarie rewards hard work and initiative.

“I know that at Macquarie, my finance career could be whatever I want it to be.” 

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