From New York architect to Beijing infrastructure manager
“I didn’t come from a traditional finance background,” says Yang Yang, an Associate Director in Macquarie’s Infrastructure and Real Assets team. “I studied architecture and worked with a world-famous architect in New York after graduating.”
After studying and working in the architecture industry, Yang decided to start an MBA majoring in finance and real estate. Once she completed that degree, she decided to relocate to Beijing to look for roles in the finance sector.
“The great thing about Macquarie is that they valued me as a person and for the skills that I had. They weren’t focused on me having past industry experience - they look for people from all backgrounds and consider the diverse skills they can bring to the team,” says Yang.
As someone who grew up in China and worked in the US, Yang felt her background contributed to a unique and open mindset.
“My experience helped me understand both western and eastern culture. This can be of great benefit when dealing with our local business partners and Macquarie’s senior leaders globally,” says Yang.
She’s also found that her architecture degree has added value to her role in financial services.
“I was able to transfer some the skills I learnt working in architecture into my current role. Architecture and real estate development require comprehensive thinking to combine art, engineering and finance together to deliver successful work – each step in the architecture workstream requires detailed work and strong communication, both of which have been central to my job today.”
Adding unique perspectives through diverse teams in India
For Vivek Chopra, a Division Director in Macquarie’s Financial Management Group, diversity is key to problem solving. Based in Gurugram, throughout his career Vivek has worked for several start-ups, helping them to innovate and scale up. By bringing this experience to Macquarie, he offers a different perspective to people and encourages his team to always be seeking out new ideas, opportunities and diverse outlooks.
“One example of this is when we were designing a complex performance report for measuring shareholder’s return,” says Vivek. “Various system and finance experts tried configuring the solution for weeks, and what seemed to be an impossible task was in the end made possible by an idea which came from an economics graduate. This is testament to the fact that sometimes you don’t need to have a specific background, a certain degree or be at a particular stage in your career to help your team solve an important problem.”
Since joining Macquarie nearly 10 years ago, Vivek says that he has seen a positive diversity shift and focus on inclusion.
“We have a culture which encourages diversity and inclusion in all forms – skills, gender, race and education. Initiatives such as Diversity Month are helping our organisation bring all of these backgrounds together and as a result of this collaboration we see new ideas and outcomes. The leadership teams are actively engaged in promoting diversity and inclusion initiatives and helping everyone to actively contribute and bring their whole self to work.”
Breaking the mould in technology in Hong Kong
“I began teaching myself to program in my spare time before being hired at a start-up to do automation work in Florida,” says Kerrie Durham, a Senior Associate in Macquarie’s Technology team. “I got the opportunity to go to Hong Kong to meet with some skilled programmers and decided to stay here and start a new life. I left my job and began to study as much as I could and a few months later I started my first round of interviews at Macquarie – I instantly knew that I wanted to work here.”
Kerrie had no formal education in programming and only had experience using one programming language, but she says the ever-changing technology landscape in financial markets and Macquarie’s ability to adapt and advance into new areas has meant that continuous learning is essential in any area.
“Not having a typical programming background means that I have some gaps in my knowledge and I spend time outside of work trying to fill those gaps,” she says.
Encouraging more women to work in technology, as well as science, engineering and maths is something Kerrie is passionate about.
“I come from an area where very few women are encouraged to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) fields, and are often actually discouraged from these careers. There were many times while I was studying that I was told that learning to program was a waste of time – there are a lot of barriers that prevent many young girls from pursuing STEM careers, so I feel very fortunate,” says Kerrie.
“Breaking down these barriers is really important and it’s great to see that Macquarie has such a focus on diversity and inclusion,” she says.
Macquarie’s offices in Asia span across 13 locations in 11 markets with 3,500 employees who celebrated Diversity Month in September, an initiative to celebrate Macquarie’s ongoing commitment to workforce diversity and inclusion.