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Irah Rosete: Transforming a career from finance to technology

"Macquarie’s retail bank is not just about financial services. It's focused on creating innovative banking experiences for our customers and this is the space I want to stay in and explore," says Irah Rosete. With Macquarie’s support, Irah pivoted from a career in finance to a career in technology as a Software Engineer in Macquarie’s retail bank.


I’m originally from the Philippines and migrated to Australia in 2009. I’d fallen in love with the country when I visited as part of a work assignment for a previous employer.

By the time I completed my ​​Masters of Commerce in Finance and Funds Management in Sydney, I knew I wanted to stay in Australia.  I was hungry to kick-start my career here and immerse myself in the culture, so I began the hunt for my first role.

I already knew Macquarie as a reputable company and so in 2012, I applied to join the loans and commissions team within Macquarie Funds group as a reconciliations associate.

The fast-paced and supportive culture allowed me to develop skills quickly. I soon moved into an operations administrator role within wealth management in the Banking and Financial Services group, where I spent the next four years. I loved the work and enjoyed applying investment concepts while working closely with financial advisers.


Pivoting to a new career

In 2016, I had the opportunity to take a one-year secondment as a product account manager, still within wealth management. This experience brought me closer to the business and opened my eyes to the diversity of roles available at Macquarie. I was inspired to grow my knowledge further and start exploring opportunities beyond the realm of finance.

Once the secondment ended, I took on a business analyst role. This was a turning point for me, as my curiosity about the technology field grew.

I became curious in what Macquarie’s engineers were doing, so I started to seriously consider what a career in technology could look like for me."

In late 2019, I decided to embark on the first step of a career change by enrolling in a technology bootcamp. I was working as an operations quality analyst at the time and the operations team members were my biggest supporters. They enabled me to work flexibly while I studied and encouraged me to follow what I wanted to do. Macquarie also invested in my learning and career development, providing the assistance I needed to take part in the training.


Discovering the ‘ExpandToTech’ initiative 

Right before finishing the bootcamp, I wanted to find a new technology role, but I also wanted to stay at Macquarie. Embarking on a new career journey felt scary, but I knew that with a good network and support system at Macquarie, I could make it happen. I started reaching out to people internally​​ and soon enough, I met the Women in Tech Network Lead and then the Head of Architecture for Macquarie’s Banking and Financial Services Group.

I was given the opportunity to transition into a technology role via an early pilot of Macquarie’s ExpandToTech initiative. This program was designed to equip internal employees with the knowledge and skills required to pivot into a technology career.

I met and interviewed with a variety of teams to find a good fit. By 2021 I had joined the payments team in the Banking and Financial Services group’s technology team as a software engineer. While I had the choice to rotate across other teams through the program, I enjoyed the role so much that I decided to stay.

Within payments, I’m currently with the faster payments feature team, working on modernising and redesigning our systems to make them more robust and efficient, while positively impacting the end-user experience. Prior to this, I contributed to enabling real-time inbound payments.

It’s very hands on. We work in two-week sprints that involve coding, adding new functionalities, testing, making sure it’s stable, then retesting.

There’s a lot of interesting problem solving as part of the role, to find solutions to questions such as how will we implement it? How will any changes impact users? Can we do it a different way? How will we prevent system issues? And if something breaks, how will we fix it?

The thing I love about my team is that they encourage me to explore and try things that interest me. They don’t hold me back or make me wait simply because I’m new. I’ve learnt to use so many new technologies on the job, and I feel like I’m making a real contribution. Plus, I’ve been paired up with a buddy, which means there’s always advice and support available.


Paying it forward

Moving from finance to technology has allowed me to expand my network, knowledge and communication skills. It’s also helped me understand Macquarie’s business on a deeper level, which has been a massive advantage.

Making this pivot in my career helped me discover my two passions: software engineering and driving a more diverse representation in the workplace.

My own move into technology made me want to help more people, particularly women, get their start in this field. I’m now mentoring women through She Codes AU and I hope that sharing my experience can give others confidence.

Outside of that, I volunteer as an online tutor with Grok Academy to help school kids learn to code in Python during the NCSS Challenge. It’s a way to give back, but it also serves as a good communication exercise for me. I also assist in improving the onboarding experience of Macquarie graduates and interns in our Future Technologists program.


Learning, opportunity and internal mobility

Macquarie’s retail bank is not just about financial services. It's focused on creating innovative banking experiences for our customers and this is the space I want to stay in and explore.

My time at Macquarie has been about learning, opportunity and internal mobility.

I’ve made a lot of role moves and experienced different teams. I love the people I work with, the flexibility and being able to be myself when I go to work."

Macquarie cares about their employees and gives them opportunities to grow and, as my story shows, you can decide how.

Irah on working in technology at Macquarie

What kind of technologies do you work with?

Java and Spring are the main programming language and framework that I use to build things with, which I’ve actually just learned during my role in the payments team. I am fortunate to have a supportive manager and an ally of senior engineers to guide me. We also use a range of other technologies like Solace for events broking, the Google Cloud Platform, AWS, Docker, Kubernetes and Atlassian products like Jira, Confluence, Bamboo and Bitbucket. From the bootcamp, I learned JavaScript and the MERN stack (MongoDB, Express.js, React, Node.js), which I use in my personal projects.


What kind of technology do you work on and what outcomes have you delivered?

I currently work on the redesign of our faster payments functionality and have previously been part of enabling a real-time inbound payments feature for our banking customers. This was a great outcome as this was one of the most requested features by our clients.


What do you enjoy about working in tech?

I love the satisfaction of being able to see that something I built is working, and that someone’s life has improved by using it. Improving things fires me up. I also enjoy problem solving.  I can relate to payments at a user level because I use Macquarie’s banking products myself, so I actually experience it. Being part of delivering real-time payments was exciting, because the wealth management team, who I had worked with previously, are big users of it.

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