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Q&A with Federica Cristina: An infrastructure career defined by variety

Federica Cristina is a Managing Director in Macquarie Capital’s Infrastructure team with 20 years of experience in financial services across Europe, 10 of which have been spent at Macquarie. Now based in Frankfurt, her projects span European borders and multiple sectors.

In acknowledgement of the 10-year anniversary of the Women in Private Markets Summit, we asked to hear what keeps her engaged, how she has seen the workplace change and about the power of women supporting women.


Tell us about your work within EMEA infrastructure at Macquarie Capital.

To put it simply, we help clients buy, sell or refinance companies in the infrastructure sector. While most of our team sits in London, I’m based in Frankfurt working on continental European transactions across a range of streams. What’s unique about my role is the opportunity for travel, spending time in Italy, France, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK.

Most of my time is spent around the energy transition: gas infrastructure transitioning into hydrogen, electricity transmission and distribution, EV charging and waste-to-energy, to name a few. Then on the digital side I’ve also worked on fibre-to-the-home opportunities where we provide rural areas with faster access to the internet. I love not being limited to one sector or one country and collaborating with a variety of people.


What trends are you seeing in your recent transactions?

Two themes tend to be present in the mind of investors – energy transition and digitalisation. Five years ago, there was less of a focus on ESG, now it’s the first question clients ask. People are thinking about the way to invest to achieve a particular outcome rather than simply following a structured transaction process that produces the capital the seller wants. Over the past few months, we have seen more nuance around how you achieve what you need to fund the growth of infrastructure companies.


Talk us through your career journey.

I’ve worked in advisory for the vast majority of my career. I started as an intern in 2003, became an analyst, and joined Macquarie from 2006-2010. In that period, I worked in both M&A and debt advisory which, as a junior member of the team, gave me a broad perspective on what's important to get deals done. Then I tried out the buy side but discovered I preferred advisory work, particularly the variety in experience you get working on multiple projects with different clients at any point in time.


What keeps your work exciting?

What excites me about my job is that I feel empowered to learn something new every day, and nine times out of ten I’m working on something that will have real impact on people's lives. Transactions generally involve companies which enable the satisfaction of fundamental needs such as distributing water or electricity, having access to the internet or being able to move efficiently. The current geopolitical and energy transition backdrops add further layers of complexity to the job: how can you not find that interesting?


Looking back on your career 10 years ago, is there a piece of advice you would give yourself?

I made the switch back to advisory a decade ago, but it was also when I was looking to start a family. At the time I was thinking, “Will I to be able to manage all of this?”. In hindsight the answer is yes, although, like most rewarding things, it was sometimes challenging.

On reflection, it took some thinking to appreciate I enjoyed advisory work and to switch course. So in this respect, the advice I would give myself is that there’s no point in having regrets. Follow through but be strong enough to admit when you need to change your path.


What changes have you noticed in the workplace since then?

There are more women in the business now than there was 10 years ago, and more examples of women in leadership positions who may also have  a family, who can encourage other women along their journey. I also love to highlight the community of women we've created across Macquarie. It’s so helpful to connect with people beyond Macquarie Capital that have had a similar experience and can support each other.


How can we attract more women to the industry?

It starts with ensuring there is representation during the recruitment process. I interview every female intern candidate that wants to join our team so they’re able to see that diversity is represented across levels and to share my career experience.

We also know that not everyone we hire will remain in the industry, but if the starting number of women is smaller then there is a bigger impact when they leave. We need to support the individuals who want to stay, particularly at the VP level, by showing examples that highlight these people have had an amazing career, and there’s no reason why others shouldn’t have an amazing career too.” You don’t have to be like everybody else to be successful.

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