Barb Schippers headed up technology for a major airline, before joining Macquarie in 2020 as Head of Technology for People. In less than two years, she has led award-winning projects, embarked on a transformation agenda and seen her leadership role expand.
“My entry into a tech career was completely unexpected,” Barb Schippers explains. “In 2002, a friend recommended me for a job as an implementation consultant for a software company and I quickly discovered I really enjoyed it.”
“I fell in love with using tech to solve business problems and the creativity that comes with that.”
Barb ended up leading the team. Then, in 2006, a major airline offered her a role and she jumped at the opportunity to move inhouse.
Barb again progressed through various roles, which culminated in her heading up Information Technology for multiple business groups within the airline. But after 13 years, she was looking for a change. A former colleague referred her to Macquarie’s Enterprise Technology team, who were searching for a Head of Technology. Barb says she could see right from the interview that it would allow her to grow her skills in another industry, while drawing upon her strengths and experience.
“Leading a business aligned technology team was familiar but I had never worked in financial services before,” Barb explains.
“I felt I wasn't so much signing up for the role as I was for the organisation. Mobility is a big part of Macquarie’s culture so I knew I would never get bored and would be able to access a lot of opportunities.”
Less than two years into her new role, this has already proven to be accurate. Barb’s original role as Head of Technology for People expanded in late 2021 and she is now Head of Technology for People, Digital and Data.
“People technology is where my journey started but I’ve taken on two brand new portfolios: Digital Platforms, which covers external facing websites, our intranet and associated apps; and the Enterprise Data and Analytics Platform, which is building out our next generation data and analytics ecosystem” Barb explains.
“The scope of my role has grown from looking after around 40 people to 140, bringing together several teams.”
Barb says that one of the advantages is that everyone at Macquarie, including her own team, uses the tools they create.
“We can see the impact of the work we do every day,” she explains. “What we do is all about enabling people to do their best work in whatever role they perform.”
The partnership between business and tech at Macquarie is the best I've ever experienced in my career. People collaborate to deliver the best outcomes and open doors."
“Within Macquarie and within the tech industry, there is such variety and opportunity because of the constant evolution and change,” Barb explains.
“We will only become more reliant on technology as the years go by so standing still is not an option.”
Barb’s role sees her delve into understanding the wider business strategy to understand how tech can support and enable Macquarie’s goals.
“I don’t come from a tech engineering background, but I bring different skills and perspectives, and we are looking for diverse experience, backgrounds and thought processes, to create a good mix.”
“We may work in tech but one of the highly valued skills I look for are interpersonal skills. We need to communicate and understand what our customers are asking for and translate that into how and what technology we need to build” Barb says.
A large part of her role involves people management, and Barb says she has an inclusive approach, to engage with how the teams are operating at all levels.
“I take my leadership role seriously,” Barb says. “I strive to create an environment that caters for everyone and makes people feel valued.”
The people at Macquarie are typically very passionate about what they do and what Macquarie stands for. The organisation’s culture of nurturing employees and their career aligns with my values."
Barb also says Macquarie's flexibility - including wellbeing days, variable hours and working from home – is motivating and encourages you push boundaries.
“I’ve found that Macquarie supports its people to do different things within their roles, to take ownership of their own careers and get involved in new projects, and to network through initiatives like the Macquarie Tech Summit or Employee Network Groups such as ‘Women in Tech’.”
Barb says that Macquarie encourages people to come up with ideas and run with them.
“My biggest discovery when I joined was that I needed to move beyond my own boundaries of what’s possible. As I became bolder in my ideas, Macquarie supported me.”
Over 2020, she led the development of The Hub, a central repository for people processes that the team built from the ground up using the latest technology.
In just 18 weeks, her team took the product from ideation to a minimum viable product that was launched globally.
“We were given the trust and freedom to achieve it, and it didn’t need to be perfect,” Barb says. “We started with one division and then let it grow. It goes back to the openness within Macquarie’s culture.”
The Hub received several internal awards and as a result of its success, more change projects are planned.
“With this project as our starting point, we have a huge scope for transformation.”
Since this article was published Barb has continued her career journey with Macquarie and is now Head of Technology for our Risk Management Group.