David Porter, Associate Director in Macquarie Capital’s Infrastructure and Energy Group, recently took two months of paid parental leave. Now that he’s returned to the office, he reflects on the challenges and rewards of his experience.
David Porter recently returned to his role as Associate Director in the Infrastructure and Energy Group, at Macquarie Capital in Melbourne, having taken two months parental leave to be the primary carer for his young son.
“It was an amazing experience,” David says. “Being able to spend that time with my son was very important to me and, on a practical level, it was helpful to my family too.”
David’s career with Macquarie began in 2009 when he moved from Adelaide to Melbourne to complete a summer internship in the Macquarie Capital Resources team. He joined the Graduate Program in 2011, and has since worked across the Resources and Infrastructure teams, including spending two years in Macquarie’s London office.
Now, as an Associate Director in the Infrastructure and Energy Group in Macquarie Capital, David leads the organisation’s Australian transport advisory business, which predominantly handles M&A and financing transactions across various transport sectors including ports, airports, roads and rail businesses. He has also worked on some of Macquarie’s marquee principal transactions including Macquarie’s acquisitions of Quadrant Energy.
“I’ve had a great journey with Macquarie,” David says.
The vast opportunities available here really show that you can grow your career and experience variety within the same organisation."
“I have always been supported when I have put myself forward. I’ve experienced global mobility, different industry groups, career progression and now parental leave.”
When his son was born in March 2020, David took two weeks of carer’s leave.
COVID-19 hit around the same time he was set to return to the office and most employees had started working remotely.
“Even though I was working from home, the reality was that despite my best efforts to block out periods of time to spend with my family, I had work to do and calls would be scheduled,” David explains. “I would look forward to the weekends, when I could spend more, less interrupted, time with my son.”
Macquarie’s Australian employees are entitled to up to 16 weeks of paid parental leave and David arranged to take two months of this from the end of January 2021, when his son was 10 months old.
Being able to take paid parental leave has allowed his family to balance their responsibilities and has helped David support his wife’s return to work.
“The ability to carve out that time to focus on my son was very important to me and my family,” he adds. “Career-wise, it was really positive to see the support from Macquarie’s senior management.”
David says that his colleagues were also very encouraging and that the preparation and transition into parental leave was smooth.
“I completed a handover before leaving and on returning, and while I was on leave people were very respectful about not interrupting.”
However, David explains that many of his friends from outside of Macquarie were surprised by the access he had to parental leave.
“It's not something that many men I know have taken,” David says. “Parental leave is often not talked about because people are worried about how they are perceived in their careers. My parental leave and Macquarie’s supportive policy has put a few friends under pressure to see what can be done at their organisations.”
David says that while parental leave is a job in itself, it did give him a break from his usual routine and provided him with a real perspective shift.
“Everyone asks ‘what did you do on parental leave?’” David says. “In a way, we just survived!”
“My son was crawling around and my wife was working from home due to COVID,” says David. “So we got out as much as we could to the park, swimming lessons, gymbaroo classes and play centres.”
“Taking parental leave made me appreciate how hard my wife had been working for the last 10 months. I got to experience first-hand the challenges and rewards of looking after a small child full-time.”
David volunteered in the local toy library and turned his hand to creating a first birthday cake. He also helped his son transition to childcare.
He says the highlight was simply being there to see all the little incremental changes in his son’s development.
“Being able to immerse myself in helping, teaching and being there each day was a wonderful experience,” David says. “Simple things like going to the zoo together, then reading a book about the zoo. It was lovely to have that one-on-one time.”
David returned to the office the day after his son celebrated his first birthday, and says that, similar to his transition out of work, it was a smooth transition back to working full-time.
David had been working across a number of different transactions when his parental leave started, with support provided by the team to provide coverage during his leave.
“The deals are easier to fill than the other side of my role, which is building ongoing relationships across the industry,” David acknowledges. “But after two months away, my parental leave actually served as a good reason to get back in touch and re-engage with clients and stakeholders.”
Based on his experiences, David recommends planning and customising a parental leave plan, but warns against overthinking it.
“Everyone’s job is important, but there are a lot of intelligent, hard-working individuals who can provide coverage for a period of time,” David says.
Parental leave really worked well for my family. I could focus on enjoying being a parent, safe in the knowledge that management and my team were very supportive."