Our people

Giving back at Macquarie: Nick Giakoumatos, Jamie Chung, Lisa Defoe and Bruno Rovai

At Macquarie, we support our people to contribute service, financial support, and leadership to community organisations they choose, in the communities where they live and work. Initiatives like Foundation Week, an annual week-long celebration of volunteering and fundraising activities, our matching program, and volunteering leave are all part of this. We spoke to four Macquarie employees from our offices in Sydney, Singapore, London and New York to discover how they’re creating social impact in their role.  

Nick Giakoumatos: Raising $A42,000 for Greyhound Rescue during Foundation Week at Macquarie

I studied law in my hometown of Newcastle and in 2008, I joined Macquarie’s Business Banking team as a lawyer. Over the 15 years I’ve spent at Macquarie, my role has morphed and changed, and I’ve experienced so many different things, even beyond law.

Macquarie places a high value and emphasis on the work of the Macquarie Group Foundation (the Foundation). It’s a natural part of the culture and working here means you look out for those opportunities.

Volunteering often starts with a passion - I love greyhounds. My uncle was a greyhound trainer, and I grew up around them. Right now, I have a gorgeous greyhound labrador cross.

Greyhound Rescue is a charity that ethically rescues, lovingly rehabilitates, and safely rehomes greyhounds. I have supported a range of other greyhound charities in the past, but when I learned that Greyhound Rescue took the dogs no one else wanted, I knew I had to help. Volunteers help greyhounds transition from life in the racing industry to life as a pet in a loving home. For many dogs, this is their first experience of human kindness.

Foundation Week is Macquarie’s annual celebration of volunteering and fundraising activities around the world. In 2022, we created a Foundation Week event where we brought the greyhounds to the Sydney office. People were invited to come for some pet therapy and show the dogs some love. More people turned up than we expected, and we raised around $A42,000, including matching by the Foundation, towards funding a new rehabilitation and rehoming centre. It was an incredible outcome.

This year I joined the Greyhound Rescue Board. The Foundation recognises charity board contributions and provides a $A10,000 charitable donation after a year of service.

Macquarie is a fast-paced, high-learning, high-knowledge environment. When you’re in it, you almost take it for granted, so it was a big realisation for me that not everyone has access to the same kind of knowledge and resources. I recognised that with my skills in legal and risk, I could contribute in a unique and meaningful way. I’ve also used volunteering leave to get hands-on at the kennel facilities.

I’m really thankful for my career and where I’ve landed at Macquarie. Obviously, there are people not as lucky as me, so I see it as my duty to give back opportunities and support to others. I’ve donated to Bear Cottage, refereed a charity football match between Macquarie and Australian Health Humanitarian Aid, organised a team for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Spin to Cure event and am always a keen participant in the Banking and Financial Services annual trivia night. Having Greek heritage, my next fundraising goal is to run the Athens marathon.

We need to ensure we uplift the community we are a part of; in fact, we owe it to the communities we operate in, to give back in a meaningful way.

Jamie Chung: Creating a culture of giving in the Singapore office

When I joined Macquarie’s Singapore office as a graduate in 2007, I remember being attracted by the opportunity to mix sales and trading and grow my career in a global finance organisation. 16 years later, I’m Head of Singapore Warrants for Commodities and Global Markets.

I found out about the Foundation after talking to my colleagues in Hong Kong. Not only were they raising money for charity, but they were having so much fun doing it.

I found out that when we raise funds, Macquarie matches every dollar1 and during Foundation Week, there is bonus matching available. I found that incredibly motivating and it inspired me to get involved. At the time, we didn’t have anyone championing Foundation Week in Singapore, so I decided to take the lead.

I set a modest target of $A5,000, and we got a group of staff to create and deliver fruit cones to support the Rohinyas through Jesuit Refugee Services. We haven’t looked back since.

With each new year, I have made a point to partner with different colleagues to create more traction, awareness and champions within the organisation. The time and logistics involved require lots of collaboration across the organisation, which means you also broaden your reach and meet new people.

The activities I’ve organised over the years involved different charities and causes. For the first part of this year, our staff in Singapore have spring-cleaned homes for those in need and are taking children with special needs on an outing. Last year, we contributed 87 volunteer hours for TOUCH Home Care clients and created 124 food bags for elderly clients supported by Yong-en Care Centre.

At other times, we’ve made and sold 1227 bliss balls to support children via Vision Help International Care Foundation and International China Concern. We ran a basketball shooting competition and sold hand-made lip balms for Jesuit Refugee Services in Myanmar. During COVID, we also sold facemasks to raise funds, and spent an afternoon playing games and doing exercises with senior citizens virtually.

The delight on the faces of the people and organisations we support is so rewarding - they are always so grateful. I always think we can do more.

I’m Catholic, so taking time out of what we’re doing to service people in need is personally very important to me. It goes beyond the money, to lifting spirits and alleviating loneliness. I’ve also found that volunteering is an effective and meaningful way to interact with and build relationships with your colleagues as well.

Macquarie’s policy of having two volunteer days makes it easier for staff to give back. When you work for an organisation that supports your volunteer activities and has an active Foundation, it adds an extraordinary dimension to your days at work. It makes your career meaningful in big, and small ways. It also speaks volumes about the culture of the company.

Lisa Defoe: Supporting young students learning to read

I’ve worked for other financial services organisations over my career, but I was drawn to the flexibility and breadth of opportunity that Macquarie offers. I joined the post trade and digital support team in London in 2017, and I’m now a manager in the team.

I always wanted to volunteer, but as a working mum, I wondered where I could find the time.

In the summer of 2018, I received a monthly newsletter from our Macquarie Group Foundation saying Macquarie was joining TutorMate, now called Chapter One, an online literacy support program that helps children from lower socio-economic communities with reading. The time commitment to volunteer was only 30 minutes during office hours, so it was easy to fit it into my week.

For the past five years I’ve tutored five and six-year-olds who need a bit of extra help with their reading. You have a timeslot each week with the same child, and we dial into an online system. They’re in the school classroom, we see the same screen, listen to each other, and do one-on-one educational games, phonics and reading activities.

Often the children are from communities where the extra support is not available. English may not be their first language, or they might have missed school due to illness. I enjoy building the relationship, making it fun and special, and I think they look forward to it as much as we do.  

I took maternity leave to have my second child in 2020 but I kept volunteering. I love watching the children growing up and getting to see things from a different perspective. Each September, I am assigned a new student and I get to follow their progress as they develop skills, which is really fulfilling. At the end of the school year, we all have a session together, so I get to meet them via video or in person.

I’ve also used one of my volunteer days to give a talk on careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at my daughter’s school. I never had these opportunities when I was growing up, so to be able to give back and provide them to others is incredibly rewarding.

There are so many ways to use volunteering leave. One of my colleagues went home to Greece to volunteer and provide food to those in need in his community.

Macquarie also recognises time spent volunteering by providing $A25 per hour in volunteer rewards, so by logging my 20 hours of volunteer time, I received $A500 to donate to a charity of my choice.

I recommend that everyone reaches out and find out about the volunteering opportunities they can get involved in. We’re fortunate to have our Macquarie Group Foundation, who make it straightforward and easy to volunteer, so it feels like part of my everyday life.

Bruno Rovai: Connecting the LGBTQ+ community with trusted support through InReach

I was born and raised in Sao Paulo, Brazil and moved to New York with a previous job in 2014. I joined Macquarie Asset Management in 2019 because they were building out the Emerging Markets Debt team. Currently, I am a senior manager and sovereign strategist for Latin America within our Public Investment business, analysing the economic and political outlook of the region.

I feel privileged to have access to all the things I need, so I’ve always felt it was important to give back to my community. The poverty trap is real, not everyone can escape it, and a lot of people are structurally in need due to lack of opportunity or resources. This is one of the drivers for my volunteering.

Over the years, I’ve been involved in a range of different volunteering activities that reflect my community. In Brazil, I volunteered at Techo, building wood houses for families in precarious living conditions in Brazil’s slums and Sonhar Acordado, supporting children in cancer treatment.

Here in New York, I’ve been volunteering to help my LGBTQ+ community. Through SAGE I’ve supported in-house visits to senior LGBTQ+ clients and with New Alternatives I’ve collected Christmas gifts for homeless LGBTQ+ youth.

A year ago, I was looking to find another volunteering opportunity when the chance to join the Junior Board of InReach came up.

InReach is a technology non-profit that expands access to resources for the LGBTQ+ community. Its free app connects LGBTQ+ people of all backgrounds who may be facing persecution or discrimination with safe, verified resources. For example, a trans woman may be seeking a doctor near her who will respect her gender identity.

My main focus is fundraising, leveraging my professional and personal networks to help establish fundraising events and recurrent donations. It’s a great opportunity to meet other young professionals in the Tri-State area who identify with the cause, while developing different skills and making a difference.

Macquarie’s involvement is a real partnership. The InReach Junior Board can use the Macquarie Office for events. We can also get to broaden our connections and use internal communications to help with fundraising. But the most positive thing is Macquarie’s generous matching program. It’s not only a financial boost - it’s a powerful recognition and acknowledgement of our effort.

It’s hard not to feel hopeful about our world when you meet the many kind, awesome volunteers and employees who dedicate their lives to non-profits. There’s a lot to be grateful for.

People know my volunteering is something important to me, which gives me visibility and impact. Volunteering also provides me with renewed optimism, perspective and enthusiasm.

Explore opportunities with our teams

1. Donation matching is provided to eligible Macquarie staff according to Macquarie’s Non-Profit Support Policy. 

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