As data and technology become more integral to the global financial sector, Stuart Brown has found that his career in data has taken off as a result. Now, as Group Data Officer and Head of Data & Analytics in Macquarie Capital, he says Macquarie’s diverse culture and entrepreneurial environment make it a great place to use impact-driven data to make a difference in the real world.
“At Macquarie we say ‘everyone is a risk manager’. In practice this means you get a lot of latitude to tackle problems or come up with new ideas and are given the accountability to deliver on them,” he says.
Stuart originally studied information technology (IT) and software engineering and started his career in IT services. But since then, his career path has followed data’s growing importance as a sector.
A government role as a data quality officer early in Stuart’s career sparked his interest in data governance. He quickly found he enjoyed working with people and processes to find creative ways to use data to improve things systematically.
Stuart went on to explore data’s ability to solve problems throughout utilities, telecoms and a range of industries within consulting firms. In 2014, he consulted to Macquarie flying in from Hong Kong to Sydney to assist with the set-up of the Banking and Financial Services Information Management Office - the first incarnation of what would become a template for group data offices around Macquarie.
In 2017, Stuart was looking for a new challenge and connected with old colleagues who invited him to join Macquarie’s Corporate Operations Group as Associate Director in the Enterprise Data Management team.
“The idea of continuing the data journey that I’d helped establish at Macquarie years earlier, but on a much larger scale, was really appealing,” Stuart says. “Macquarie was also attractive as I knew the company favoured a hardworking, outcome-focused, ‘getting it done’ approach.”
“The role gave me a broad view across the whole Macquarie landscape,” he explains. “I was helping to implement new tools, ways of managing our data risk, and advising businesses on what they should consider when establishing their own data teams to manage their data risk.”
When a Group Data Officer role was created in Macquarie Capital, Stuart jumped at the opportunity to establish a data team for managing data risk and broader data initiatives. A year later he was appointed Head of Data & Analytics for Macquarie Capital.
Stuart says his remit was broad - getting the defensive data management and governance team and processes in place, then help explore data’s offensive capabilities.
“I help set and guide the vision but I'm also just another member of the team,” he explains. “It’s important that everyone feels connected to what we do and knows that they’re making a real difference in the organisation. Macquarie’s flat, non-hierarchical structure helps with this.”
Stuart says that while his team has core work that needs to be done, it is also encouraged to step outside the box and explore new ways of doing things. This approach has led to innovative new solutions, spinning up new teams, and evolving businesses within Macquarie.
But for Stuart, the highlight of his role has always been the talent of the people he works with.
“Everyone is highly engaged, knowledgeable and great at what they do,” Stuart explains. “We’re all passionate about the work, and we can all get a bit obsessive about solving the problems and making a difference. It’s infectious.”
Stuart says that when recruiting new team members, they seek people who combine tenacity with problem solving and great technical skills.
“We like to think outside of the box when we’re hiring,” Stuart says. “But we also look across data, risk management and analytics. We want people who have the potential to be great business analysts or get across broad sets of problems.”
Stuart says that in return, Macquarie offers the opportunity for unique internal and upward career mobility.
“There are opportunities to relocate to new countries or try different roles within the organisation,” Stuart says. “But you can remain in the same role and receive promotions, increased responsibilities or interesting challenges. It's a bit like consulting.”
He also says the company’s core values of opportunity, integrity and accountability, are actively practiced. He sees this every day in his team’s freedom to innovate in data, and the many opportunities he’s been given to spread his wings.
Stuart says that right now Macquarie Capital is going through a natural move towards automation and machine learning. But he is just as excited by the growing uses and applications of data science within the industry more broadly.
“Macquarie is working on some interesting projects with data hubs and self-service analytics,” Stuart says. “We’re setting up new capabilities and helping the front office teams understand the capabilities within businesses they are considering investing in.”
“Data risk, data quality and data governance have come a long way at Macquarie. They have helped us conquer some really complex subjects and techniques that others in the industry usually struggle with.”
“The best thing about working with data at Macquarie is that it goes beyond ideas or boxes on a page,” Stuart says. “It’s about making it real, making it impactful, and making it matter.”
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