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Hanming Lei: Growing a career in infrastructure with Macquarie Asset Management in Beijing

Hanming Lei started her career in infrastructure for Macquarie Capital in London. She says accepting a role as an Associate with Macquarie Asset Management in Macquarie’s Beijing office has been a unique opportunity to re-connect with her cultural roots and discover a different career path.

 

Hanming Lei spent two years working for Macquarie Capital in London before returning to China to become an Associate in Macquarie Asset Management’s Beijing office.

She began her career with Macquarie in 2018 as a London-based intern in Macquarie Capital’s Mergers and Acquisitions Advisory Team, within the Infrastructure and Energy Group.

“I chose to join the infrastructure team because Macquarie is well known in the infrastructure industry,” Hanming explains.

There, she was exposed to a range of infrastructure transactions and, in 2019, Hanming joined Macquarie’s Graduate Program as an Analyst in the same team.

“It was interesting to see the definition of infrastructure broadening beyond traditional asset classes like utilities, airports, and roads; to include more diverse asset types like digital, energy transition and logistics,” she says.

“The concept of infrastructure investing intersects with popular thematics like the green energy transition, and I’ve also been exposed to related sectors like real estate, healthcare and telecoms.”

 

Trust, responsibility and ownership

Hanming’s career and education has spanned several countries. She left her birthplace of China as a teenager to complete high school in Singapore before travelling to London for university.

It was while completing her degree in economics that Hanming says she was drawn to the numerical, analytical aspects of a finance career and the variety of work it offered.

Macquarie’s Graduate and Internship Programs provided me with on-the-job training and career direction. The team was large and social, with people of diverse backgrounds from across the world. That made it great to be a part of and provided a lot of different perspectives to consider and learn from.”

Returning home

The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a point of reflection for Hanming, separating her from her family back in China for a couple of years. Her manager and the Human Resources team negotiated extended work from home arrangements, allowing her the chance to return home to see them.

While there, an opening arose with Macquarie Asset Management in Macquarie’s Beijing office.

“The professional environment is different in China and, although I was born in China, I’d never worked there,” Hanming says. “So that required a leap of faith.”

“My London manager advised me to be open to challenges and embrace the opportunity to take my career in a new direction.”

 

A different mindset

Hanming describes her move to Macquarie Asset Management in Beijing as a unique opportunity to connect with her cultural roots and discover a different part of the infrastructure market.

“From a corporate finance perspective, the technical skills - like calculations, financial concepts - were transferable, but the mindset is different,” Hanming explains.

She describes her work with Macquarie Capital as having a stronger advisory focus, while being more transactional, fast-paced and process-driven, and operating within shorter lifecycles.

“In Macquarie Asset Management you are dealing with longer-term investments and acquiring assets with the idea of holding and managing them for several years. Whatever you do today has a longer-term impact – both your successes but also your learnings,” Hanming says.

 

Exploring new global markets

Hanming’s role as in Macquarie Asset Management is two-fold.

“Day-to-day, I’m managing assets including a cold-chain logistics portfolio in China under Macquarie Asset Management’s Asia Pacific flagship fund,” Hanming says. “This includes fund reporting, analysing performance, and working on asset value optimisation or pipeline projects. I also help our portfolio companies to improve their health, safety and environmental standards, whilst working alongside stakeholders, including company management.”

Another part of Hanming's job is screening new deal opportunities for Macquarie Asset Management in China.

Sourcing new deal opportunities includes valuations, analysing data, screening introductions from brokers and site visits, as well as developing a strategy for China.
The market is always evolving and we’re constantly looking for ways to partner with local operators to enhance our value as a foreign investor.” 

Hanming regularly communicates with the Greater China team, which is spread across offices in Beijing, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as a central management team based in Singapore. She also deals with external stakeholders, including company founders, advisors and brokers.

“We also liaise with other Macquarie offices - from Korea, to Australia and New Zealand, the Americas, or Europe - for deal sourcing and transactions, to make sure experience and knowledge are shared.”

While her focus is China, Hanming was encouraged to spend a month in Singapore in early 2022 as to work on a live transaction in the Southeast Asia market, working on internal investment committee preparation.

“I found the opportunity unique,” Hanming says. “And I’ve built a global network of Macquarie colleagues who are now friends.”

 

Gaining new perspectives

Hanming says she’s always stepping out of her comfort zone to work on new things but credits the regular professional development talks and check-ins for providing perspective and personal growth.

“It’s great to have these opportunities to stop, think and reassess where you are and re-align your plans and values.”

She believes a culture of respect and understanding is consistent across all the Macquarie offices she has worked in.

“The things people advocate for are the same across teams and countries,” Hanming says. “This includes a strong emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion.”

She enjoys the atmosphere of the Beijing office, describing her colleagues as a small, close team, like a family.

“My team knew I didn’t have my immediate family or friends in Beijing when I first arrived, so they gave me a very warm welcome, introduced me to people and contacts, and we have a lot of social events.”

“Professionally, the team was understanding of the fact that I didn’t have a lot of experience in Chinese infrastructure, so they gave me responsibilities tailored to my experience and strengths, including empowering me to contribute my bilingual capabilities where possible.”

Hanming says this has enabled her to grow in confidence as she learns and finds a role for herself within the team, while allowing her to build deeper connections across the industry.

“I’ve really been given the chance to show how far I can go.”

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