For Cynthia Oey, working in infrastructure investment and asset management offers the best of both worlds: the excitement of being involved in the transaction as well as the satisfaction of working on long-term strategic management of businesses.
Cynthia Oey went looking for a career in banking after graduating from university. She had completed several internships and studied in Germany, France, Austria and South Korea.
Her university career adviser mentioned that Macquarie's London office was looking for applicants who spoke European languages as part of its Graduate Programme.
"I was offered a position in the Macquarie Asset Management (MAM) Real Assets division," says Cynthia. "I didn't know much about it and I had a heavy finance background. But Macquarie felt different from other financial services organisations, so I thought I'd give it a try."
That was 2012. Now, eight years later, Cynthia knows infrastructure very well. As one of the world's leading alternative asset managers, MAM's diverse investments include infrastructure, real estate and agriculture.
"The perception that infrastructure is boring is so far from the truth," Cynthia says.
"More than 100 million people each day rely on MAM-managed assets, from roads, to telecommunications and utilities networks."
"We are the biggest infrastructure manager globally with over a hundred infrastructure assets under management, and this scale gives us more opportunities to work on large, and unique, and complex transactions and assets."
Cynthia initially spent four years in the MAM Real Asset division's transport team, where she worked as an Asset Analyst on Brussels airport, a portfolio of UK airports (AGS Airports) and a toll road. She was put in charge of financial models and analysing monthly performance and results. As she progressed, she utilised her analytical skills to directly support senior leaders on strategy.
In 2016, Cynthia wanted to expand her industry knowledge and asked to move across to utilities and networks. There, she began working in the telecommunications team on investments in towers, mobile and broadband networks.
Now a Senior Manager in the digital infrastructure team, Cynthia splits her time across transactions and asset management.
"We look at transactions from a long-term asset management perspective," she says.
It's super interesting because we get the best of both worlds. We get the excitement of working on the transaction but in a granular and deeper way, because we are holding the asset."
"Plus, we see the analysis we do, get executed. You get to meet the management team and work on strategic plans once the transaction is completed."
"I get a lot of variety in my work and no two days are ever the same."
Cynthia says telecommunications has evolved so that broadband has become more like a utility. This has made it increasingly appealing as an infrastructure investment.
Cynthia worked on the transaction to acquire the UK telecommunications company KCOM, which was completed in 2019.
"I worked on the internal approval processes and transaction management of the KCOM transaction," says Cynthia. "It was a take-private deal and I was also focused on the rules and implications around it being listed on the London Stock Exchange."
On the asset management side, Cynthia is working on executing the strategic initiatives resulting from MAM's 2018 acquisition of Denmark's largest Danish telecommunications company, TDC, with three Danish Pension funds.
"TDC was an integrated telecommunications company and we are separating it into an infrastructure company and a retail-heavy company, plus expanding and upgrading the existing network to fibre," she explains.
"It's pioneering, and complicated from many different aspects."
Cynthia loves that her role is diverse and she gets to work with a variety of people with different backgrounds, skills and experience levels. She's motivated by the changing investment landscape and the fact that her work in infrastructure is tangible and visible.
"The infrastructure landscape has become much more competitive due to low interest rates and an increase in capital," Cynthia explains. "We used to have multiple opportunities in the traditional infrastructure space but now we've switched to more bespoke options, which has given us an interesting challenge and a more diversified portfolio."
Macquarie has invested in infrastructure for over 25 years and is a pioneer in the global infrastructure sector, which gives Cynthia and her team world class capability.
We share knowledge globally and we collaborate across the world, so there's a lot of cross-pollination of ideas."
"This also means there are opportunities to travel to different countries where Macquarie has offices or assets and learn from our colleagues working on different transactions and assets."