Charlene McIntosh’s career with Macquarie has taken her from London to Sydney, and back again - with several promotions along the way. Throughout October, she’s helped lead Macquarie’s Black History Month celebrations across the UK as co-chair of the EMEA Fusion employee network group.
Charlene McIntosh graduated with a law degree in 2005, but her original plan to become a solicitor was waylaid when she landed a job in banking.
“I found that I liked the banking environment and really enjoyed the work,” explains Charlene. “It also felt like the finance industry was more inclusive and diverse than law, and I could see a clear career progression.”
Charlene joined Macquarie in 2015 as a manager in the London-based Commodities Markets and Finance Operations team. She says it was a good cultural fit from the beginning.
“The Macquarie ethos is that you own your career,” Charlene says. “It was apparent from the interview that I would be supported by management.”
“The atmosphere felt open and entrepreneurial, and I loved the people and the office building.”
Charlene’s team support the trade teams in drafting contracts, completing accuracy checks, settling deals, and undertaking confirmations, verifications and cash flow reconciliations. They work closely with the business and their risk teams to build relationships with external clients.
As a manager, Charlene originally worked on contracts and confirmations for areas like agriculture, commodity indices, repurchase agreements and metals and says her initial impressions of Macquarie were quickly confirmed.
“I felt comfortable voicing my ideas and was given the space to implement them. I built strong relationships with global teams and the desks we support, while developing my technical skills.”
Two years in, her manager suggested an opportunity to relocate to Sydney.
“I would have never considered myself for it,” Charlene says. “It was nerve-racking but it turned out to be an amazing experience.”
“Macquarie is great at offering internal and global mobility,” Charlene says.
Relocating to Sydney in 2017, Charlene’s role broadened from confirmations into settlements and reconciliations, while expanding into other products such as futures. She was also promoted from manager to senior manager.
“When I was made senior manager, I told my manager that I wanted to work towards becoming an associate director,” Charlene explains. “She was very supportive and said ‘great, let’s go!’.”
In 2019, Charlene achieved that goal and was promoted to associate director, before deciding to return to London. In March 2020, she transferred back into a very different role as EMEA Business Management and Commodities Markets and Finance Operations Change Lead. One of her first tasks was working with the EMEA Operations Leadership Team to plan the strategy for a hybrid working model during the pandemic.
“People at Macquarie are really supportive of us experiencing different roles and encourage us to broaden our horizons,” Charlene says. “Through my new role, I gained transferable skills in project management and negotiation.”
Charlene has now transitioned back to managing the teams that look after contracts, settlements, and reconciliations – alongside her work with ongoing EMEA change projects.
“I provide support, management oversight, and escalations for the team. The other side of my role is being involved in change projects that evolve and future-proof our operations, like automation and data analytics.”
Charlene likes that there is always a new product or process in the pipeline. Recently she’s been part of developing a system that enables Macquarie’s clients to execute their trade confirmations electronically. She’s also enjoyed being the operations representative on the project to wind down Macquarie Bank International Limited as it transitions to Macquarie Bank Europe, as a result of Brexit.
“Again, my manager encouraged me to get involved because it gave me exposure to senior stakeholders and different aspects of operations.”
In mid-2020, Charlene nominated herself to become the co-chair of EMEA Fusion at Macquarie, an employee network group that aims to build awareness, connect and empower colleagues of different races, ethnicities, cultures and faiths.
“In 2020, the murder of George Floyd precipitated a time of reflection,” Charlene explains. “I’d done well in my career, but I thought: ‘What am I doing to help support diversity and build talent?’”
“I told myself I should drive the change I wanted to see, so I got involved.”
She has worked with Fusion to run panel discussions, seminars on allyship and active bystander training around discrimination, as well as collaborating with both the EMEA Pride and EMEA Parents and Carers employee network groups. Charlene also created a template for safe conversations on race that was used across the company.
“I’m most proud of the educational content we’ve created,” Charlene explains.
“Fusion is supported at all levels. But we need to keep asking difficult questions and have challenging or uncomfortable conversations to push the needle on driving change.”
Throughout October, Fusion has been leading Macquarie’s celebration of Black History Month across the UK, with events ranging from a leadership panel for Black employees, a keynote speech from Sir John Parker, as well as a book and film club.
Charlene says events have also been run to celebrate the UK push for an official East and South East Asian month in September and a Ramadan Guide was created for those who want to learn more and support their Muslim colleagues.
“It means the world to me to be able to help drive change while also driving my career forward,” she concludes. “It’s challenging, but also the most rewarding work I’ve ever been involved in.”
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