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Caitlin Heffernan: Improving communities through private investment in infrastructure with Macquarie Capital

Early in her career, Caitlin Heffernan discovered a passion for the tangible, real-world impact and rewards of private markets and infrastructure investment. She is currently a Vice President in Macquarie Capital’s New York-based Infrastructure and Energy Capital team and believes that cultivating greater diversity throughout the sector is necessary to deliver the critical and innovative infrastructure projects that communities depend upon.

 

Caitlin joined Macquarie Capital’s Infrastructure and Energy Capital team in New York in 2018. She says one of the things that attracted her to the organisation was the ability to leverage its entrepreneurial culture to create an impact through infrastructure and private market investment.

Private capital has a large role to play in closing the gap when it comes to infrastructure. The opportunities are immense."

The team works across three key sectors: economic and social infrastructure (including public-private partnerships, toll roads and airports), energy transition (covering a wide variety of different asset types in the energy and power sector), and digital infrastructure (which includes data centres and fiber networks).

“Initially, I was doing M&A and some principal investing across economic and social infrastructure, but now I’m part if a team that’s investing Macquarie’s balance sheet into digital infrastructure projects and development.”

“Although I come from a finance background, I’m exposed to the engineering, design and construction, contractual and legal side of the projects too,” Caitlin explains.

The pandemic accelerated the demand for digital infrastructure, which became essential for work, health, education, and the economy.

I like that infrastructure is tangible, present and inherent in our everyday lives so I can see the impact my work has on people. It’s a growth industry that’s still evolving and while governments have a big role to play, there are real opportunities for private capital."

Creating a digital infrastructure ecosystem

Caitlin’s current focus is on identifying investment opportunities in the digital infrastructure space.

“We bring the development expertise and the capital to a project,” she explains.

She has worked on projects ranging from enabling a  residential fibre business to deliver high-speed broadband in the US to developing tower and small cell projects and creating a data centre development platform - all essential parts of a broader digital infrastructure ecosystem.

Caitlin was also involved in a deal involving the establishment of an enterprise fiber business utilizing a state-wide fiber optic network providing high-speed connectivity to communities in need of this infrastructure.

“We built an organisation from the ground up, brought together a sales and management team, and developed a business plan, with the goal of delivering connectivity to businesses and institutions in the community.”

“The biggest infrastructure gap is typically in rural areas, especially in relation to digital infrastructure, so I often have the opportunity to travel and see parts of the US most people wouldn’t.”

“I love what I do because it is dynamic and challenging,” she says. “Although I’m 15 years into my career, I’m always learning.”

“Day-to-day, I might be pulling together business or investment plans, negotiating contracts with counterparties, briefing internally on the status of transactions or assets, and collaborating with various partners to deliver projects.”

“Once we make the investment, it's about managing and overseeing the delivery of the investment plan.”

Caitlin deals with a variety of stakeholders ranging from government departments to infrastructure providers, construction teams and the communities themselves to come up with creative solutions that work for everyone.

“There’s a real mix of backgrounds and expertise on my team but we are all driven and enthusiastic about creating value.”

 

Empowered to bring a different perspective and fresh ideas

Caitlin has been actively involved with diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives at Macquarie, working to address  what she describes as the “surprising” underrepresentation of women in the private market infrastructure investment industry, and further increase diversity.

She explains that women are not only major beneficiaries of many of the infrastructure projects she works on, but that they also have a lot to bring to the infrastructure sector in terms of skills and expertise.

“Along with supporting the women already in the team and their development, Macquarie does work to develop its female talent pipelines inside and outside of the business.,” Caitlin says.

“I’ve met many amazing women role models in my career. But as we continue to innovate and deliver infrastructure products to people globally, we need more of them to consider infrastructure investment as a career to bring the new, fresh perspectives and different ways of thinking that come with having individuals from diverse backgrounds.”

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