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On a data journey with Macquarie’s Financial Management Group

Sarah Stewart and Eka Setiyawan work in Macquarie’s Group Data Office supporting the business financial management functions. Here’s how they are helping to continue Macquarie’s investment and journey with data.

Importance of data management

In 2020, Sarah Stewart joined Macquarie in Sydney as an Associate Director in the Group Data Office aligned to the organisation’s Financial Management Group. She had already enjoyed a decades-long career in banking across Asia and Australia.

“My career gradually took me towards data governance and data management eight years ago, when it was becoming a bigger focus within financial institutions,” Sarah says. “Regulations were coming into effect for international banks that sped up their data governance journey, and I got to be part of that.”

Sarah was drawn to Macquarie because she could see that senior management was buying into the importance of data management.

“Macquarie offered me an opportunity to influence, drive and build data management capability in the organisation,” Sarah explains.

She also says that one of the key attractions was the end-to-end approach and tangibility of the work.

Approaching data as an investment

Sarah believes Macquarie’s proactive approach prioritises the long-term business benefits data can bring to the organisation rather than simply seeing it as a regulatory requirement.

Data needs to be reliable because it is critical to creating efficiencies, managing risk and more. There is a real desire from the leadership team to get it right."

She says Macquarie’s investment in training demonstrates the value it places on data as an organisation. Sarah has contributed to this data training within the finance division as well as undertaking training herself.

“Macquarie is delivery focused and agile, and the culture encourages engagement.”

“There is a lot of opportunity for our juniors - everyone’s integral to the team and contribute ideas and can challenge how we do things.”

Consultative partnerships

Sarah’s team collaborates with stakeholders across the broader finance division, providing them with a holistic view of how Macquarie’s businesses work together to manage data.

“We partner with the Finance, Treasury, Tax and Investor Relations teams to bring data under governance, improve data awareness and the accountability that we all have to manage our data better.”

One of the main challenges Sarah faces is moving from working across change initiatives to really embedding a mature data capability across all finance business functions. The Data Management team has evolved into a consulting approach ensuring that they are able to roll out data management progress at scale.

Over Sarah’s first year with Macquarie she’s developed the team and approach.

“Now we’re engaged in strategy and planning,” Sarah explains. “We are having data conversations earlier and our stakeholders are more aware of what we do and how we add value.”

Uplifting the data journey

Sarah’s role is to grow and transition the data management journey across Macquarie’s finance division, solving problems and creating efficiencies along the way.

“Communication and stakeholder management are a big part of what I do,” Sarah says. “Breaking new ground requires a creative approach while on other days project management is required.”

“There is a lot of autonomy for us to identify what is critical as well as freedom to find solutions, and flexibility in implementation.”

“We are only part way through our data journey,” Sarah explains. “I want to build an educated data community across Macquarie who understand why it's important.”

A broader reach

Eka Setiyawan is a Senior Data Management Analyst with the Financial Management Group. He joined Macquarie in 2020. Before that he spent three years as a data and analytics consultant, after graduating with a degree in Chemical and Metallurgical Engineering.

Eka was attracted to Macquarie for the opportunities it provided him to expand his career.

“The data and tech work are appealing, as is working and communicating with diverse stakeholder groups. It’s quite similar to consulting,” says Eka.

Eka says the main attraction was the broader reach he can gain at Macquarie.

“Plus, Macquarie is known for its entrepreneurial culture so you can raise new ideas, and if they make business sense, operationalise them,” he says.

Autonomy and exposure

Eka was born in the US, and says living and working in multiple countries has given him a global perspective - one that helped provide a seamless transition into Macquarie’s international environment.

Eka is the only Data Management team member working out of Macquarie’s Brisbane office, and his colleagues are spread across Australia, New Zealand, South-East Asia, India, Jacksonville and London, so working independently and interacting virtually is routine.

“One of the more important ways data management contributes to Macquarie is by allowing regulatory reporting to take place with confidence, and for our organisation to have a holistic understanding of the data journey before it gets here,” Eka says. “Regulators need to see the whole data journey, from all the way upstream where the data is created, through the various systems that the data hops to and from, the controls that take place; and ultimately how we know it’s correct.”

Contributing to Macquarie’s finance teams

While his job title reflects the technical elements required, his role also involves project management and building relationships with key stakeholders from different teams around the globe.

“Listening, and asking the right questions, results in better answers, and demonstrates the value of why and what we do,” Eka says.

“On a typical day I’ll be managing stakeholder engagement, working with subject matter experts, updating the project’s steering committee, and building our data governance capability within the Finance business teams.”

One of the highlights for Eka has been working on a large project replacing the organisation’s global ledger, known as Program Fusion.

“We completed the project in August 2021, and what a great journey it has been with the team to lead and close this out,” says Eka.

Learning and giving back

Eka says his team works hard, but maintains a relaxed and supportive environment, where everyone collaborates across countries and seniority levels.

“Building relationships is important,” says Eka. “It’s been great to have exposure to senior leaders.”

Eka has had multiple opportunities for on-the-job learning, alongside formal training.

I’m further growing my capability in stakeholder management, picking up new tools on the job like Collibra (a data governance platform), and expanding my knowledge of enterprise data management."

“I enjoy the fact that there is always lots to learn, particularly on the business side on how they operate day-to-day, and for the long-term.”

Eka’s willingness to give back and share his knowledge sees him actively involved in volunteer work with mentoring and alumni groups in the wider community. He also enjoys sharing his knowledge with recent graduates and his team.

“I believe you’re not ever too busy to give your time to those around you,” Eka says. “You have to look after your team.”

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