Recruitment Manager – Macquarie Asset Management at Macquarie Group
At some point in many women’s lives, a difficult decision they may face is whether to balance a career and family or put a pause on the career path altogether to solely focus on raising a family. Many questions arise that go into the thought process: What are the pros and cons of such a choice? What happens when the children are grown and the desire to work outside of the home returns? How does one go about reviving a career that has been put on hold for years? Is it even possible? Katie Maier faced such a scenario and shares personal insight about her experience leaving her job as a fund analyst to raise her children. After more than a decade, she then reinvigorated her career to re-enter the workforce as a recruiting manager for Macquarie Asset Management.
To get some background regarding your early career work, what was it you found rewarding about your work as a hedge fund analyst?
In 2002, alternative investments were becoming more mainstream. My bosses had been pioneers in the industry as part of a statistical arbitrage hedge fund in the 1980s. They went on to run a pension fund using what was called a portable alpha strategy investing in all alternatives with an S&P/LGC overlay. I loved going into work each day and learning and listening to how our team viewed the markets, analyzed hedge funds, and approached portfolio construction. Since our team was small at the time, everyone from the senior management to junior analysts were able to jump in and contribute to institutionalizing and growing the business. My position allowed me to experience a lot in six years from building risk, portfolio allocation and statistical models to traveling around the world meeting with leaders in the industry.
Did your job at that time also incorporate social connections and relationships as part of your daily interactions? If so, did you miss that once you left?
Yes, one of the most important parts of the role was developing relationships both externally and internally. We relied on an exchange of ideas within our team and needed to develop relationships externally with our peers, prime brokers, and fund managers to effectively source new investments for our portfolios.
I have always enjoyed having a network and meeting new people. I ensured I continued creating and maintaining connections when I stayed home with my daughters. To continue my personal learning in a more flexible environment, I enrolled in classes, managed and renovated investment properties, and volunteered at local organizations and at my daughters’ schools. During this time, I was able to expand my peer network and social connections in other areas.
What were the pros and cons about the decision to either continue to develop your career versus pausing to focus on raising your children?
I think the most important part about making this decision is knowing who you are and what drives you. At my core, I knew that I would be on a tightrope struggling to find the right balance. I’m lucky that my mom was a good role model for me. When I was younger, I saw my mom take time off from her career, then “reinvent” herself and run a successful business. I also had a rough pregnancy and lost our first child when I was nine months pregnant. After being pregnant for nearly two years, traveling internationally with a heartbeat monitor in hand, I was ready to take a break and enjoy the time with our daughter, Tessa. I had prepared myself to take that risk and when I decided to stay home in 2008, I went into it with eyes wide open.
Being a mother is one of the hardest jobs there is. Were there any times while you were raising your children that you may have wished you were still working in the financial services industry?
That’s a trick question – it’s like your employer asking you if you are looking for another job. I try to live in the present for the most part rather than with regrets. I love my kids and my work is great. However, I think everyone needs to evaluate their current purpose and goals and shouldn’t feel guilty about taking steps to align with them.
Once you decided to return to the financial workforce after being away for almost a decade, how did you begin the process of applying for jobs? What was your biggest hurdle during this process?
I left the workforce in 2008 when social media was not nearly as developed as it is now. In 2017 when I was ready to return to the corporate world, I had a very dated LinkedIn profile and resume. I took the time to update both and reconnect with past colleagues and friends.
More importantly than robo-applying to jobs and sending a connection request, I reached out to my network and sent messages, set up calls, and met for coffee. I cast a wide net and interviewed with a few different firms with some success and some failure. It was still important for me to maintain some flexibility to be home. I was not ready to dive into the deep end with rigorous travel or long workdays.
After speaking to a former colleague who ran her own recruitment firm, it all seemed to make sense. I started part-time on the agency side focusing on investment and financial services roles which matched my knowledge of the investment management business and connections. Instead of finding talent for Hedge Fund portfolios, I was doing it for the firm instead.
After a few years on the agency side, I really had the yearning to return to a global investment firm. A friend sent me the opportunity at Macquarie, and it seemed like a perfect fit. I applied and then found the recruitment lead’s e-mail address in my contacts and sent him an e-mail explaining my background and interests (side note: sending a note to the contact listed on LinkedIn is a great way to standout). He responded, and we set up a zoom. He and his boss spoke about the work, the culture and the flexibility in the schedule. I was extremely impressed by the people I met and the number of women in senior leadership positions throughout the firm. It seemed and is a great fit!
What advice would you give other women who are looking to return to the workforce?
I would say that the best advice came from someone who had been a mentor to me and was one of the Founding Members of 100 Women in Hedge Funds (now Finance). I called her asking for advice about a few opportunities I was considering. She told me, “Don’t underestimate your worth! Your knowledge and your experiences are still there. It will come back to you sooner than you think.”
I would also encourage women to expand their social connections – this can generate additional links with other networks and potential job leads. Encourage and help others on their path as people remember that extension of support. I believe that if you are a hard worker and kind anything is possible. Put yourself out there and take a chance!
Now that you’re working full-time, managing recruitment for Macquarie Asset Management, what’s different about your life now that you wear a ‘working mom’s’ hat?
It was a learning curve for our whole family. I needed to learn to say, “No”. I had to take a step back in volunteer service and delegate a lot more responsibilities. As my 11 and 14-year-old enter Middle School and High School, they are probably relieved that I don’t have VIP status at their school as a volunteer anymore but frustrated with the uptick in daily chores to help around the house.
You mentioned you’d be interested in mentoring women during big life changes and/or work transitions. What kind of role would you play to support these women?
As a mentor, I would be happy to be a sounding board for others as they assess their next career move or break. It is important to be able to communicate your story and your experiences. I’d be happy to help look over a resume or help connect experiences with the different types of roles in our industry.
Katie Maier manages recruitment for Macquarie Asset Management.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.