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Ariyanna Johnson: How a passion for the environment combined with a career in finance

Ariyanna Johnson’s passion for sustainability and green energy led her to a career in finance as an asset manager for Macquarie’s Green Investment Group. She has witnessed huge changes in both renewables and the approach to green investing.

Ariyanna Johnson, Asset Manager in the Edinburgh office, has been part of the Green Investment Group journey from the very beginning as one of the founding members of the team.

Banking on sustainability

Ariyanna originally dreamed of a sporting career but her pragmatic father, an economist, suggested she follow her aptitude for numbers and gain a vocational skill. As a result, she studied accounting and finance. 

This decision led her down an unexpected path towards a career focused on one of her other passions, the environment.

Ariyanna realised her finance skills could be tailored to a career in any industry, so she experienced placements in the energy sector for oil, gas and coal companies before taking a working holiday to Australia. Returning home in 2008, she qualified as a chartered accountant while working as a financial controller with a UK-based infrastructure investor, developer and fund manager.

“The company I was working for became a fund manager for the UK Green Investment Bank, so I made the leap over to join them and fulfil a dream to work entirely in renewables.”

“I’d always wanted a career with something I believed in or loved, and I found it within the finance side of sustainability,” says Ariyanna.

Ariyanna became part of the initial asset management team for the UK Green Investment Bank. Four years in, she was involved in the sales process when Macquarie acquired the organisation, now known as the Green Investment Group.

Combining passions

Ariyanna says her belief in living sustainably is grounded in her upbringing.

“Growing up, my family was always environmentally minded, it was ingrained in me, and we did what we could, like turning off the lights and recycling,” says Ariyanna.

“We need to do all we can to stop the climate emergency,” says Ariyanna. “The Green Investment Group are accelerating the green transition through investments, project delivery and the management of green portfolio assets. I’m thrilled to work in a sector that I believe in, where I can contribute to helping people invest for a better future.”

On the finance side, Ariyanna says she enjoys being challenged, alongside the constant change and variety in both projects and her responsibilities at Macquarie.

“Macquarie attracts such knowledgeable people and I enjoy working with them and learning from them in a fast-paced atmosphere, at the forefront of renewables.”

Managing renewable assets

As an asset manager, Ariyanna manages renewable energy assets the organisation has acquired, including offshore wind farms.

A regular day for her involves project calls and updates on the assets and power purchase agreements. She works with technical and financial teams, with tasks including: reviewing management accounts, oversight of preparation of financial statements for auditing, preparing board reports and attending board meetings and advising and gaining approvals from project directors on project matters.  

“I look at what we are expecting, whether there are any issues, review costs and expenses, and assess principal payments or dividends,” says Ariyanna. “If there’s a technical problem with a wind turbine, I may get involved from a finance perspective.”

“I enjoy the variety and breadth,” Ariyanna says. “There’s always plenty going on.”

Having managed assets in Germany, Sweden and Poland, she says it’s interesting to see the sites in person.

Ariyanna and her team are currently awaiting the results of their bid to participate in ScotWind, a programme which will lease areas of the seabed around Scotland for wind farm developments.

“Having worked on several Polish wind farms, my manager supported my involvement in the finance side of Macquarie’s bid for the first round of offshore wind leasing in Scottish waters in a decade,” Ariyanna says. “It’s a great opportunity to work on a such an important, long term project close to home, which will get the UK closer to its net zero goal”

Global growth journey

Ariyanna has been a part of the establishment of the Green Investment Group right from the beginning, as well as its global expansion.

Her longevity in the industry means she has witnessed huge changes in both renewables and the approach to green investing.

“Initially we were a UK-focused company but now we’re well established across Europe and have expanded into Asia, the Americas, and beyond,” Ariyanna says.

“The future looks even bigger and broader, as we build on our experience.”

Working three days a week, Ariyanna says it’s great to be able to balance her career and time with her young family.

She says the organisation is proactive when it comes to career development, having been selected to be part of an internal sponsorship program which pairs participants with business leaders to support their career development and is focused on improving equity across the business. In turn, she also volunteers externally to a social mobility mentoring program, offering career advice to talented students.

“I really value the fact that Macquarie enables you to access opportunities to empower those in the community who may not otherwise have access to this support.”

“There are so many options within Macquarie for career mobility,” Ariyanna explains. “Plus, the momentum of change in the renewables space is very exciting from an environmental and career perspective.”

“Macquarie and the Green Investment Group have a great reputation. We’ve delivered dynamic projects and I’m proud of the work that we’re doing to reduce carbon emissions and create economic opportunities.”

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