Caitlin O’Connell had never considered a career in risk management until she met with a recruiter from Macquarie. In 2021, after completing a Bachelor of Commerce and Law, Caitlin joined Macquarie’s Graduate Program, working in Regulatory Affairs and Aggregate Risk for the Risk Management Group.
Caitlin O’Connell says she had a broad range of career options to consider after studying a combined Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Finance, and Bachelor of Law. However, it was the degree of choice that presented the biggest challenge in choosing a career path.
While studying, Caitlin tried her hand at paralegal work, human resources and operations, and completed an internship in Audit and Assurance for a Big Four accounting firm to help steer her towards a career. She eventually decided on financial services and applied to Macquarie’s Graduate Program after attending an information session.
“I was attracted to Macquarie because I could see it was a good cultural fit, but I struggled in deciding which business group to apply to,” Caitlin says.
“Macquarie’s recruiters looked at my qualifications, previous experience, and considered my interests and motivations to determine which business unit would be the best fit for me.”
“After hearing about my goals and strengths, the team suggested I apply to join the Risk Management Group, specifically the qualitative area,” she explains.
Caitlin says she wasn’t fully aware of what risk management entailed until she met with Macquarie recruiters.
“Like a lot of people, I thought risk was a static ‘yes’ or ‘no’ function, that was built around compliance and maths,” Caitlin says. “But this isn’t the case at all - it’s much more dynamic.”
“The Risk Management Group collaborates with Macquarie’s businesses to manage risk and work towards a common goal. It’s a partnership.”
Caitlin says that business changes and new regulations make the Risk Management Group a fast-paced environment and, while she finds her legal and finance knowledge valuable, she says her colleagues come from a range of educational backgrounds.
“Beyond any specific degree, as a graduate it helps to be curious and inquisitive because there is so much to learn,” Caitlin says. “Problem solving and communication skills are crucial too.”
“Risk is a growing field and there are many interesting qualitative risk roles at Macquarie. There is so much opportunity.”
“I’m in the Related Entities Contagion Risk (RECR) and Banking Executive Accountability Regime (BEAR) team,” Caitlin explains, “Macquarie’s relatively unique and complex group structure makes this an interesting role.”
“We are responsible for developing, maintaining and providing guidance on the contagion risk framework. We also provide second line oversight for BEAR and the upcoming Financial Accountability Regime.”
Working within a relatively new team of just seven people means Caitlin is involved in the team’s evolution. But was still pleasantly surprised by the level of autonomy she was given as a graduate.
“Macquarie trusts graduates to take on high levels of responsibility, and it’s very motivating to be able to contribute to the team from day one,” Caitlin says.
“Every day is different.” Caitlin says. “We deal proactively with Macquarie’s businesses and respond to queries to ensure compliance with the contagion risk policies.”
“I am responsible for some of the processes in my team to appropriately manage contagion risk. This includes reviewing proposed transactions and employment/directorship arrangements to ensure alignment with our policy,” she explains.
“The scope of what we do is very broad. Throughout the year, our team can be doing all kinds of things, including advising on proposed business transactions, intra-group agreements, or preparing reports for board or senior management. We could also be conducting second-line assurance or drafting updates to the contagion risk policy or guidance, amongst many other things.”
“I regularly work with senior colleagues and stakeholders, who value my input,” Caitlin says. “Macquarie has a unique culture where everyone is empowered to speak up and contribute.”
Caitlin says working remotely during the Sydney lockdown also pushed her to become more independent. Now her team is embracing the best of both worlds with flexible hybrid working arrangements
“The lack of face-to-face time with the team, both work and social, was difficult in 2021,” Caitlin says. “But I am amazed at how generous my colleagues have been with their time. They are genuinely invested in my development.”
Beyond her day job in the Risk Management Group, Caitlin volunteers as a surf life saver on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. She has also become involved with several extracurricular activities at Macquarie, from playing netball with colleagues to joining the inclusion and wellness stream of the Risk Management Group’s People and Culture Group.
“Macquarie has so many different groups to get involved with,” Caitlin says. “I really enjoyed running a group-wide virtual wellness challenge during lockdown as part of the People and Culture Group.”
Caitlin believes the training provided on the Graduate Program has been invaluable, covering professional topics like leadership, public speaking and presence in meetings, as well as personal topics like financial wellbeing.
“The Graduate Program has made the transition from university to work much easier and being part of the graduate cohort gives me a pre-established network across Macquarie.”