Encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit

21 April 2021

Macquarie Capital's Principal Asset Secondment Program is a lesson in innovation for junior staff.

How do ideas and opportunities manifest? Macquarie Capital lifts the hood on innovation to see how new ways of thinking can develop its most recent recruits.

"A lot of our younger recruits have entrepreneurial aspirations, and this is one of the many ways we can foster their entrepreneurial spirit", says Glen Butler, Executive Director in the Technology, Media, Entertainment and Telecommunications team at Macquarie Capital.

Despite being a large, global organisation, Macquarie Capital strives to cultivate the agility and disruptive mindset of a smaller challenger. But for those participating in its Principal Asset Secondment Program, learning to think like a startup takes on a literal meaning.

"A lot of our younger recruits have entrepreneurial aspirations, and this is one of the many ways we can foster their entrepreneurial spirit."

Glen Butler,
Executive Director, Technology, Media, Entertainment and Telecommunications, Macquarie Capital

Junior staff are encouraged to nominate themselves for the opportunity to work in-house at one of Macquarie Capital’s principal portfolio companies. Each placement sees secondees work closely with some of Australia’s most innovative technology companies and get involved in everything from shaping business strategy to managing product trials and launches, and in doing so learning to innovate in a startup environment.

Entrepreneurial dreams become reality

Geoff Austen, former Head of Global Equity Finance and Structuring Division for Macquarie Group, and current CEO of InLoop, recognises from his own experiences the enormous benefits of nurturing innovation in the workplace.

"I grew up in Macquarie at a time of what I like to call ‘hyper-innovation’. Leveraging that creativity and ‘freedom within boundaries’ is what prepared me to pursue my own entrepreneurial dreams."

Born from these entrepreneurial dreams and driven by a social purpose, InLoop was created in 2006 to make complex payments simple in high duty of care environments. Specialising in healthcare, disability, aged care and education, the team at InLoop is innovating for society’s most vulnerable. Macquarie Capital secondees, Aziel Goh and Christian Fleury describe their involvement in transformative product launches.

Working closely with product managers, marketing, business development and a number of other internal and external stakeholders to support InLoop’s ‘Flexischools’ solution (including the successful launch of Flexischools ‘Our Place’ marketplace), Goh notes that the experience allowed him to ‘step away from being a specialist’ and gain valuable insight into the business by having direct involvement in the day-to-day operations.

"I came to Macquarie Capital straight out of university, and I wasn’t sure of the level of direct involvement I was going to have with clients, but the secondment has been a chance for me to immerse myself in one of their businesses and start to build personal relationships with them,” says Goh.

With a similar experience of working on InLoop’s claims payment solution at LanternPay, Fleury reflects on the lessons he’s learned while project managing the successful launch and completion of a flu vaccination reimbursement program with the Pharmacy Guild of Australia.

"Being embedded within a business has taught me how to be a better adviser over the long term. The experience has helped to develop my skills in stakeholder management and communication, and I've been able to bring back these to Macquarie and apply them to my interactions with internal stakeholders and our clients," says Fleury.

Similarities in problems, differences in solutions

While the working environments of corporates and startups undoubtably have their differences, Austen reflects on the similarities, noting ‘ultimately, the problems we solve are the same.’

"At Macquarie, you have global exposure and access to deep and varied expertise; at InLoop, you are in an environment with huge scope for flexibility and agility. Both are focused on encouraging innovation and new ways of thinking – just in different ways and by leveraging different strengths," Fleury describes.

The secondment program, which entails 4-6 months outside of the Macquarie Capital business, has become known as an ‘internship in innovation’ for staff. Glen Butler, having worked closely with the returning secondees, believes that empowering staff in the early stages of their careers benefits the broader business with the skills they bring back.

"The secondment is a fast-track way of learning the different forms of innovation, business operations and individual accountability. It throws you out onto the coalface and builds a trusted relationship with our partners," says Butler.

With nominations open for the next secondment, Fleury has a message for his colleagues.

"Apply. Go in with an open mind. There are so many opportunities to do things you normally wouldn’t do. Embrace the unique experience and learn as much as you can."

Note: Macquarie Capital’s Principal Asset Secondment Program is available to Associate level employees within Macquarie Capital.