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Rory Wilson: From industrial design to project management for Macquarie’s Risk Management Group

Rory Wilson took a career change from industrial design to become a Project Manager in Macquarie’s Risk Management Group. He says his design background complements his project management skills, giving him a unique perspective.


Before joining Macquarie two years ago, Rory was on a very different career path as an Industrial Designer. Graduating with a Bachelor of Industrial Design in 2013, his first job out of university was at a startup working on air purification technology.

“The startup environment offers an exciting, fast-paced culture, but can be quite chaotic. I decided to commence a Masters of Project Management on a part-time basis in 2015, with the intention of supporting projects in my design work.”

While he studied, he changed roles to work as an Industrial Designer for an audio-visual technology company, taking design concepts from initiation through to manufacturing and delivery.

As his studies in project management progressed, Rory began to see it as a sustainable career option, rather than simply an additional skill set to complement his industrial design career.

In 2019, he decided to make his career change a reality, and applied for an entry-level project management role at Macquarie.

“I was attracted to Macquarie because it offered a lot of diversity through its activities, the work itself, the people, and its global presence,” Rory explains.

Rory narrowly missed out on the position but seeing his potential the recruiter at Macquarie encouraged him to try for similar roles. He was later successful in his application for Macquarie’s Graduate Program and in 2019 joined the Risk Management Group.


Finding common ground

Rory says that despite obvious differences, there are commonalities between his project management role and his background in industrial design.

“My project management studies were agnostic to any particular industry,” he explains.

“My background in industrial design means I aim to bring a user focus to project management. Concepts like User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI), all stem from design and the design process.”

“As I’ve grown to understand Macquarie’s ecosystem, I have found my background beneficial and that I’ve been able to use the design way of thinking more and more.


Projects and change

Rory is part of the Projects and Change Team within the Risk Enterprise Support division, which provides centralised services to the risk teams at Macquarie.

“Risk is about helping the businesses make well-informed decisions that take into account what may go wrong,” he says.

Risk Enterprise Support helps the different specialist risk teams do their jobs better. As part of the Projects and Change team, I help to deliver new ideas, new capabilities and new services to enable that."

“There’s a strong risk culture at Macquarie, and the Risk Management Group has a positive, valued partnership with the business,” Rory explains.

As a Project Manager, Rory is responsible for making sure the project stays on track and delivers on expectations. He says that presentations, meetings and communication all play a part in making this happen. He also receives wider support from business analysts to understand stakeholder requirements, and from change managers to minimise disruption, provide awareness and training, and ensure the effective delivery of project changes.

Members of the Projects and Change team are aligned to different areas of the Risk Management Group, and Rory has spent time working with Credit Risk. However, he is now aligned to Compliance and helps deliver projects to meet Macquarie’s regulatory obligations.

“I’ve worked on APS 220, an Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) credit risk standard that goes live in 2022,” Rory says.

“More recently I’ve been involved in a new breach reporting project from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), helping Compliance to keep track of activities, to plan ahead and communicate effectively with other teams. I’ve also been involved in introducing a new system to help Macquarie staff comply with their personal compliance obligations.


Solving problems and removing roadblocks

In a little over two years, Rory has witnessed the Risk Enterprise Support Projects and Change team expand from 10 to more than 70 people.

“It’s a reflection of the trust that has been put in the team, as well as the increased professionalism and value we add,” he explains.

Rory has also received personal recognition by being promoted.

“I began in a graduate role as an Associate, but I’m now a Senior Analyst.”

“As a Project Manager, I am focused on delivering but I also enjoy problem solving and getting to work on new things,” Rory says. “Typically, we are delivering something new that helps people by saving time, reducing errors, or streamlining a process. I like creating a better experience or way of doing things for other staff in the organisation.”

Rory says building rapport with a range of stakeholders to gain trust and align visions is vital, alongside the ability to resolve ambiguity.

“In line with Macquarie’s entrepreneurial culture, you are trusted to work independently and deliver to a high standard.”

Not having a financial services background meant it was initially a steep learning curve.

“A lot of people working in this field come from a financial services background and develop project management skills,” Rory says. “I am the reverse. I have a strong theoretical understanding of how things ideally should be done, and I work with that knowledge to deliver projects in the Macquarie context."


Global vision and opportunity

Rory says that his work gives him direct exposure to senior stakeholders.

“Your opinion is valued and the structure is very flat at Macquarie,” Rory says. “Team culture is also a big focus - from trivia nights to team building.”

Beyond the workplace, Rory has also enjoyed building broader networks across Macquarie through lunch time sports.

He believes Macquarie strikes a balance between delivering good results for the individual and the wider company.

“You’re never pigeonholed at Macquarie,” Rory says.

I’ve been able to work across multiple areas and have an active say in the type of work I take on. This encourages people to be successful and ultimately benefits everyone and the organisation itself."

While he enjoys his current role, Rory says that he also sees plenty of opportunity ahead and that the potential for global mobility is on his radar.

“There are many possibilities in this area of Macquarie because risk has been such a big focus for financial services in recent years. Awareness of risk is still growing across the whole industry and that is creating so many different career paths.”

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