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Priyanka Lad: From Physics to Market Risk

Priyanka Lad studied physics at university, but soon discovered a passion for financial markets. Looking for an opportunity to combine the numerical and analytical skills acquired through her studies, she joined Macquarie’s Market Risk team on a direct placement internship.

 

Priyanka Lad studied physics at university where she explored her love of numbers and science through courses such as thermodynamics and taking on medical work experience.

Initially, she was interested in pursuing a technology career within financial services. However, after completing a coding internship within the industry, she discovered she was more interested in financial markets.

 

A new challenge

After researching opportunities available to her, Priyanka decided that a career in market risk would be perfect for her numerical and analytical skills.

“I wanted to challenge myself to apply the same skills I learned studying physics in university to the financial markets,” says Priyanka.

While exploring the various graduate programs on offer, Priyanka found most were very general in nature, where graduates would rotate between the various groups found in risk. She specifically wanted to work within market risk, and discovered this direct placement was offered as part of the Macquarie Internship Program.

The large energy footprint of Macquarie’s Commodity and Global Markets group also resonated with Priyanka who wanted to stay close to her scientific roots.

“What excites me about Macquarie, having come from a science background, is the size of its global energy footprint and the drive to help its clients transition to a greener economy,” says Priyanka. “Here, I am part of something that can have a massive impact on the future.”

 

Seeing the big picture

The Market Risk team sets the limit framework for trading. The team work closely with the traders to accurately identify, measure and constrain risks arising due to movements in market prices.  

“What’s interesting and unique about my role is that a trader might look at a specific product, while in a market risk role we are looking at all the trades Macquarie will make collectively. We get to see the big picture.”

Each day, Priyanka examines Macquarie’s risk exposure and how various shocks affect its position. Applying a suite of limit frameworks created for the trading teams, the Market Risk team ensures all trades are within a published risk appetite level.

 

A changing landscape

Priyanka is currently focusing on oil risk within the energy space, while others on her team cover metals or other commodity or non-commodity markets.

“We regularly meet to discuss the strategies and trades across the Group as a whole, enabling me to really understand the trading positions across the company.”

The types of risk scenarios Priyanka might model include a drone attack on an oil facility or the impacts of a natural disaster, where her team will plan for worst-case scenarios.

“My role is interesting and dynamic. It's not just presenting numbers,” says Priyanka. “We check our positions each day to ensure they are correct and haven’t changed based on current events.”

In market risk, Priyanka found an opportunity to see a deeper side of the financial markets. “It's really interesting to hear the different views and strategies of the trading teams.”

“You also have to be open to opportunity. For example, we may want to set up a new business because of growing demand in an area,” says Priyanka. “You have to be open to thinking about brand new limits for a product that hasn't really been traded previously or often.”

Some of the latest discussions for Priyanka’s team have been in the green energy space. Being involved in these transactions has been especially rewarding according to Priyanka. “Macquarie is at the forefront and continues to look for opportunities to improve.”

 

Bringing a new perspective

One of the aspects of the Macquarie culture which Priyanka finds most enjoyable is the open working environment.  

“At Macquarie, everyone works side-by-side, no matter how senior you are within your team. This means increased exposure to senior leaders for junior team members,” says Priyanka.

This leads to team collaboration at all levels and an ease of sharing ideas and perspectives. In her first year, Priyanka used her coding skills to automate processes that had been in place for a long time. From simple adjustments like creating macros in Excel, to removing manual processes by working closely with the technology team, Priyanka has been able to drive efficiency for her team.

“My advice to students applying to Macquarie would be to go for a role if it sounds interesting, even if you don't think that your degree or your background is the typical one for that role. Throughout the Graduate Program and with my supportive team, I’ve been able to apply and build the skills required for the role and find success.”

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