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Andrej Gaon and Kate Wilkinson: A clear mindset on parental leave and flexibility in Group Treasury

Andrej Gaon says flexible working is embedded within his team’s culture in Group Treasury and role modelled from the top down. In his seven-years with Macquarie, he’s also seen it become more common for men, including himself, to take parental leave. Kate Wilkinson says this has shifted logistics around work patterns, and normalised it for everyone, with flexible working making it easier for everyone to balance their personal lives with what works for them, as well as benefiting the organisation as a whole. 

 

At Macquarie, we are committed to supporting our people effectively manage their career and life priorities. Our enhanced leave offerings enable our people to be their best at work and at home, including the extension of our paid parental leave with no minimum tenure requirements. Read more about our complete enhanced leave offerings.

Kate Wilkinson and Andrej Gaon are two members of the Group Treasury division, actively role modelling the success of flexible working and putting the policies and conversations about hybrid working and parental leave into practice. 

Finding diverse challenges in Group Treasury

In 2015, Andrej Gaon moved from Melbourne to Sydney to join Macquarie’s Liquidity team in Group Treasury. He had already accumulated experience in financial markets and treasury management for a Big Four bank, having completed Commerce and Economics degrees. 

“Macquarie offered new challenges because of its diverse business mix and global activity, making the job really interesting,” Andrej explains.

Originally hired as an Executive focused on the regulatory side of liquidity, Andrej is now a Senior Manager in the Liquidity & Markets team. He projects short term liquidity and funding requirements and analyses any strategic proposals relating to daily liquidity management activities.

“The culture in Group Treasury encourages people to challenge themselves and tackle new opportunities,” says Andej. “I've been able to take on new responsibilities and expand my role over the years which has brought with it diverse experiences and allowed me to learn and grow in a dynamic environment.” 

 

Role modelling flexibility

Andrej says Macquarie encouraged flexible working well before the pandemic. 

“I used study leave to help finish my Masters in 2016,” he says. 

“In 2017, I was part of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. We introduced a 'no real reason’ flexible work initiative to encourage people to work from home when convenient without needing an excuse.” 

“Practically, for flexible working to be effective, you need to be able to work as well from home as you do at work, and Group Treasury has been very strong on that. More broadly, Macquarie has been well positioned to accommodate working from home for some time.”

Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, this accelerated the transition to flexible working arrangements and embedded a hybrid working style within the team.

“Flexibility is part of the team culture and role modelled from the top down, exhibited by senior staff regularly dialling in from home,” Andrej says. “It’s also considered at a practical level, from team days, where everyone comes to the office, to the ways meetings are run with both physical and virtual rooms booked to ensure everyone is connected and included.”

“There are types of work where I know I’ll be more effective at home and other occasions where I benefit from being around the team,”Andej explains. “Flexible working allows you to work in a way that’s comfortable for you, helps manage your responsibilities and reduces your chances of burning out,” Andrej says. “If people are happier, it feeds into retention.”

 

A growing use of parental leave

Andrej says he has witnessed an increase in the number of men utilising parental leave during his seven years at Macquarie - and he’s one of them. 

He plans to take two-months of parental leave after the birth of his second child, twice as much as he did for the birth of his first child.

“It’s hugely beneficial to be able to spend some time with our new baby and her older sister,” Andrej explains.

“My wife is a doctor who is working and studying, so it will help her keep momentum in her own goals and professional life.” 

“It’s one thing to have a policy allowing paid parental leave but I’ve observed people around me utilising it,” he says. “It’s become more common for men to take parental leave within Macquarie.”

 

Changing the mindset around flexibility 

Group Treasury Division Director, Kate Wilkinson has enjoyed an 18-year career with Macquarie and agrees that she’s observed a change in the conversation and mindset around flexible working. 

“When my male colleagues started to take parental leave, that shifted logistics and normalised it,” Kate says. “So, when it came to taking my own maternity leave, it didn’t feel like a big deal because it was part of the way of working.” 

Originally, Kate intended to take nine months maternity leave over 2020 and return to work full time, but she decided to negotiate an earlier, staggered return to work.

“My managers were very supportive of the plan I proposed to return part-time,” Kate says. “I slowly increased my days from two per week to full time over four months, in order to get up to speed on the transformation project in my team.”

Now she is back full time, Kate says her days take a different shape. 

“My life is busier with a toddler, so I start work early but tend not to work as late in the evenings so I’m around for the family routine around bedtime,” she explains.

 

Career and global mobility with Macquarie

Kate says that as Macquarie’s structure has changed, so have her roles. 

“Sometimes it’s been organic,” she explains. “But I’ve also had deliberate discussions with my manager.”

Kate originally joined Macquarie as a summer intern in 2004, part way through her Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies) majoring in Maths and Finance. 

“I enjoyed working in the infrastructure funds management business in Macquarie Asset Management, so I completed a second internship before my Honours year, then joined the Graduate Program in 2007.” 

“Career and global mobility were one of the things that really attracted me to Macquarie,” Kate explains. “I could see others moving overseas or trying out new roles, and I was ready to put up my hand when those opportunities came along.”

In 2010 Kate had the chance to move to New York with Macquarie Asset Management. After two years working in the US, she had been promoted to Manager and applied for a balance sheet management role advertised internally with Group Treasury back in Sydney, jumping at the chance to experience more analytical work and gain an overview across the Group. 

Over the decade she’s spent with Group Treasury, Kate has been involved in developing the framework for programs managing capital position from a hedging perspective. She helped establish Macquarie’s first Group Treasury team in Gurugram. Over time she moved into the liquidity side of Treasury, focusing on policy and risk framework, and regulatory reporting, becoming Associate Director in 2016. 

“As I took maternity leave, Group Treasury was growing and restructuring, and involved in big change and transformation projects,” Kate explains. “I was part of the transformation and the discussion around how to cover my leave.” 

Business aligned teams had been created for capital and liquidity reporting and Kate returned from maternity leave to an adjacent role, leading and setting up the team aligned to Banking and Financial Services after being promoted to Division Director while on maternity leave. 

“We partner with Banking and Financial Services on liquidity and capital questions, implications, and initiatives,” Kate explains. 

 

The benefits of flexibility

Kate says that even pre-pandemic, there was a deliberate push to promote flexibility and break down barriers.

“COVID-19 was a turning point in proving beyond people’s expectations that we could effectively and productively work from home,” Kate says. “We’re now discussing hybrid working and striking the right balance to get the best outcome.” 

“Flexibility is about acknowledging that we aren’t all going to work at our best in the same way,” Kate says. “To get top ideas, develop knowledge, grow and evolve, the way we work has to make sense within our lives, particularly over the medium and long-term.”

“Flexibility creates the best outcome for a person, but also the organisation.”

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