Carolyn was the first of her family to go to university and fights for social mobility as well as women empowerment. She is a Managing Director for Macquarie’s Fixed Income division. She is used to sitting on various women networks or charities as a volunteer as much as at governance level as she sits on several boards.
Carolyn Porretta
Carolyn Porretta
Macquarie

Carolyn was the first of her family to go to university and fights for social mobility as well as women empowerment. She is a Managing Director for Macquarie’s Fixed Income division. She is used to sitting on various women networks or charities as a volunteer as much as at governance level as she sits on several boards.

Today she volunteers passionately with The Girl’s Network and organises many events to make introductions, train, and encourage women to aim high in the workplace or outside. She is a passionate and inspirational senior role model who actively supports other women everyday.

Carolyn has been shortlisted for the Award for Achievement.

You were nominated for this award for the past two years, what have you been up to career-wise since last year?

I have been very busy finding and executing deals for my day job. For instance, I managed to structure and close a very innovative transaction with a Fintech company and used the input from my colleagues across the world and the firm to pull together all our strengths. I learnt a lot from all of them and got a footprint in the “digital world”. That was super exciting!

I have also spent a lot of time with people internally on non-deals related matters. I was involved with Macquarie’s Balance EMEA (gender diversity) steering committee, organized some events and did some fundraising with them, as well as helped get some specific pieces of training added to the catalogue for our female staff. I also, and most importantly did a lot of informal mentoring. Nothing replaces being there for other women and before anything else as a senior woman, busy or not, I consider it my duty.

Finally, I give talks to women’s society or on panels at some universities when invited like I did at UCL or Oxbridge conference. I hope I can inspire others to just “dream big”.

Who are your role models?

Women who have walked a long way. It does not matter where you started, it’s how much you’ve covered given the tools you had or not with you. Some of my friends inspire me, even though they’re not famous. Then some women whom I have met that have taken the time to help or share their stories and struggles. I also admire he “usual suspects” that we all know that have somehow been trailblazers in their fields and changed conventions from Zaha Hadid to J. K. Rowling.

I also admire people who speak openly about mental health, their struggle, and overcoming it. Lockdown has been tough on us all so I am more conscious of it now.

Can you tell us more about your work with Housing Associations?

I enjoy volunteering with charities during my spare time and I have got involved with this organisation and have become involved with their committees and then the board. I have discovered board appointments are fascinating and a way to help charities in a skilled manner and have a wider impact potentially.

I applied to join the board of CCHA (they have 1,500 homes around Croydon), a community-focused housing association. There I can help with all my expert knowledge around Strategy, Treasury & Finance, FCA regulated activities and Real Estate investment and management. I believe this is very valuable and indirectly leads to more people in need getting help than if I just help at the soup kitchen.

I have also been appointed to the Treasury Committee of Optivo, a major landlord managing 45,000 home and with the financial clout of a FTSE 250 business. As they are a leader in the field, we talk about ESG investors, Green bonds, social infrastructure, and I am at the heart of the emerging green markets. It’s fascinating and an honour to be part of this and be able to help them to deliver more homes.

What advice would you give to a woman who wants to widen her network and improve her networking skills?

In my opinion, networking is critical. You can be as good as your job as possible, in the end, people need to connect with you. I suggest you put a lot of time into meeting people and introducing yourself. It can be face to face, or whilst getting involved with a project or volunteering activity. My best trick: target one coffee a week with a new person, and put a calendar reminder on Monday morning to ask someone. I know it sounds challenging, but don’t worry you can do it most weeks. I’d also advise going 360, particularly 2 levels above. It sounds tricky but there are always ways. It will pay big time!

Outside of work, it’s the same. Get involved with organisations with WIBF or others. How to? Just offer to help! People will always need volunteers…

What are you most looking forward to when the lockdown is over?

My daughter going back to school, playing with her friends and being taught by teachers rather than her parents! Once that is sorted, it’s all about seeing people face to face. I don’t have much close family so my friends are extremely important to me, and I love chatting! I get incommensurate energy from spending time with others.

Of course, a bit of sun would not hurt… I love scuba diving so I will probably head somewhere where I can do that, Although I’ve become very conscious about my carbon footprint and want to reduce flights as much as possible. Perhaps in Malta?