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Q&A with Jenny Zhao: From Melbourne graduate to London Senior Vice President

After joining Macquarie in 2014, Jenny Zhao is now a Senior Vice President in Macquarie Capital’s Technology team. Over the last five years, she’s led financial advisory processes across the digital, price comparison, lead generation, eCommerce and fintech sectors, with a more recent focus on green tech and infrastructure software.

Ahead of the 10-year anniversary of the Women in Private Markets Summit, we asked to hear about her mobility story and her views on the representation of women in the workplace.


Tell us about your career journey from Melbourne to London – what drew you to move?

I studied in London during university and was drawn to the buzz and energy of the city. That, along with its status as a financial hub and proximity to Europe, made for an exciting place to work.

I joined Macquarie as a graduate in Melbourne and expressed an interest in working overseas early in my career. When a role became available in London, I put my hand up to be considered. My team was supportive of the move. Macquarie encourages career mobility and many of my peers at Macquarie have also worked across multiple divisions and offices.

Over the last seven years, I have had the chance to work on interesting projects both in the UK as well as across Europe including Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden and Iceland. Collaboration with our colleagues across Europe and globally is particularly important as nearly every transaction has a cross-border element to it.


In the Technology team, you recently helped deliver the sale of Valitor to Rapyd. Can you tell us more about this project?

We advised Arion Bank on the sale of its fully-owned payments processing subsidiary – Valitor, to Rapyd. Valitor is an Icelandic payments champion and an established leader in Europe for in-store and online payments acceptance solutions as well as card issuing. Rapyd is a global Fintech-as-a- service company which enables businesses and consumers to engage in local and cross-border transactions in any market.

Despite running the project entirely remotely during COVID-19 lockdowns, we were able to achieve a very successful outcome for our client Arion Bank. The acquisition provides Rapyd with a significant expansion of its payment capabilities throughout Europe and in card issuing, and also further strengthens its presence in Iceland, which is to become Rapyd’s strategic hub for Europe.


Where do you see emerging opportunities in your industry?

Consumers, businesses and governments of today are focused on environmentally responsible practices and sustainability. With this, there has been a rise in innovative business models which seek to facilitate greener business practices, as well as drive a more circular economy. This includes businesses that facilitate sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling of existing materials and products, as well as technology that helps us monitor and manage our resource consumption.

Many of these business models and technologies are at an earlier stage and require investment, government support and consumers to adopt new patterns of behaviour. With an increasing need to de-couple the link between economic growth and resource constraints, we are seeing increased interest from both investors and policy makers in supporting green technologies.


Looking back on your career 10 years ago, is there a piece of advice you would give yourself?

There is always something valuable to be gained from a challenging situation or project.

Many of the most creative solutions that we have delivered for our clients have come about as a result of responding to a changing industry or macroeconomic backdrop. I have also found these to be the best learning and development opportunities.

Over the last 10 years, I have also seen Macquarie evolve, finding new opportunities to grow in periods of change and adversity.


What changes have you noticed in the workplace since then?

There is markedly better representation amongst colleagues and clients today versus 10 years ago, which is promising to see. This has partly been driven by a significant increase in awareness across the industry of the benefits of having diverse teams that encourage and welcome different perspectives. Initiatives targeted at enabling women to feel empowered to shape what’s possible in their careers also continues to be an important part of this change.

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