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How the Global Financial Crisis and Brexit steered Anna Lyons’ career across two continents

Anna Lyons’ career with Macquarie has spanned a decade. Over this time, it has taken her from the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis to Brexit, and from Dublin to Sydney and back again. As the Finance Manager for Macquarie Bank Europe, Anna now oversees finance for Macquarie's new European-regulated credit institution.

 

In 2011, Anna Lyons took a three-month contract for Macquarie in her hometown of Dublin. Having originally trained as a Chartered Accountant, she had recently finished a contract as an auditor for an accounting firm.

The Global Financial Crisis hit many economies hard and to escape its impact, Anna had planned to travel to Australia soon after her three-month contract with Macquarie ended, hoping to find new career opportunities. A short-term contract with an Australian financial services organisation did not only fill a gap in her working schedule, it also served as the perfect introduction to Australia.

“I was looking to go to Australia, so a contract with Macquarie was an obvious fit,” Anna explains. “Then, while I was working in the Dublin office, the CFO of what was then the Corporate and Asset Finance group visited and said to call when I arrived in Sydney.”

When Anna took up his offer and made the call, she found there happened to be an opening as a Finance Executive in Macquarie Leasing. She applied, was offered the job, and her journey with Macquarie entered a new phase.

 

A varied career

Anna’s career with Macquarie has seen her working across many business areas. After her time as a Finance Manager, she worked with the Corporate and Asset Finance CFO on balance sheet review, financial reporting and financial control.

In 2015, Anna accepted an internal secondment to work in the Accounting Policy and Advisory team. She then returned to Corporate and Asset Finance, working on deal support across the broader team, including Macquarie’s acquisition of Esanda, a car loan and leasing portfolio.

“Esanda was a huge transaction at the time and a real career highlight,” says Anna.

“I worked with the client on managing the data, valuations and accounting requirements that we were going to need to bring on such a large book, and to get the transaction approved.”

After taking a break for parental leave, Anna returned in a financial control role. This included managing employees internationally within the Resources team, which leases mining and energy assets across the globe.

“I worked on several big transactions where we bought a large number of assets, like earthmoving equipment and managed to ship and sell them across the world.”

 

Managing Brexit

During her second period of parental leave, Anna decided to return home to family in Ireland after eight years away.

Reconnecting with contacts in London in late 2019 led her back to Macquarie and the Dublin office. Anna took a new role as Finance Manager for Macquarie Bank Europe.

“I was delighted that I could return to Macquarie in Dublin,” says Anna. “It was comforting, but also challenging, as I was taking on a very different role, establishing a new operating model under strict regulatory requirements.”

“Macquarie Bank Europe (MBE) is a new banking entity set up due to Brexit,” Anna explains. “Macquarie needed the new entity and license to maintain passporting rights for the European Economic Area, the ability to trade in the EU, and to provide seamless and uninterrupted services for our global clients as we all managed the Brexit transition.”

“As Finance Manager my role is very interesting and has a huge scope,” Anna says. “I could be looking at anything financial that relates to MBE. Many of MBE’s operational activities are performed outside of Ireland and are considered an outsourced service by the regulator: from regulatory returns, to daily capital calculations, and monthly profit and loss.”

An average day sees Anna working on regulatory returns, looking at financial management issues and answering business queries in between.

As Ireland becomes even more important to Macquarie’s operations due to Brexit, the number of people working in the Dublin office has increased. MBE operates from its headquarters in Dublin. This means a CEO, CFO and CRO and other senior roles, such as Anna’s, must be on the ground in Ireland.

Anna says the culture of the Dublin office is similar to Sydney’s, warm and friendly, but that Macquarie is still growing its profile and relationships in the city.

Travel may have stopped due to COVID-19 but Anna is in regular contact with finance teams across the organisation - from offices in France where trading takes place, to Germany for futures clearing, and London.

“The people are the highlight of working at Macquarie,” Anna says. “They are friendly, welcoming, very knowledgeable, and happy to help where they can.”

 

Flexibility, mobility and opportunities

Anna and her colleagues were working from home most of 2020, but even before the pandemic she worked from home one day a week. In previous roles at Macquarie she also worked flexibly, four days a week.

“I get to see my kids and have a balanced life,” Anna says. “Macquarie is very flexible.”

The global mobility that comes when working for a financial services organisation with international reach like Macquarie is one of the selling points for Anna. But she has also enjoyed the diversity of the work opportunities.

“The transactions Macquarie is involved with are interesting, as is the path that Macquarie is on, and I am particularly happy with the group emphasis on climate solutions and the energy transition,” says Anna. “I really enjoy being a part of the Macquarie journey.”

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