To celebrate International Women's Day on March 8th, this week we will be bringing you a series of guest blogs from leading senior females in Accounting & Finance. They will be discussing their success, career-defining moments and what advice they would give to another female looking to pursue a similar career. This is what Lisa Fraser, Head of Finance at Macquarie Group, had to say.
Lisa is the Head of Finance at Macquarie Group, with responsibilities including financial control, business performance and reporting, product control, corporate reporting and tax reporting. Her team is situated in 19 countries around the world.
Lisa has been with Macquarie for more than 20 years and has performed a variety of finance roles during that time. Prior to joining Macquarie she worked in audit with KPMG. Lisa is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia and holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) degree from the University of NSW. Lisa has four children aged 17, 15, 12 and 9.
What factors do you think have been critical to the success you have achieved in your career?
"I think there are a few things.
First of all I have worked with so many people over the years who have been generous with their time and in sharing their experiences and knowledge with me, from which I have learnt a great deal. Their constructive feedback and advice during the times I needed it was instrumental in me being where I am today. I have also been lucky enough to have some amazing teams working with me. I really believe that by empowering people and giving them accountability you can achieve so much more as a team and it is extremely rewarding to see the people around you develop and achieve their own potential. It also allows you to take on broader responsibility or new experiences.
Being able to think strategically and identify where change is required, and lead that change, has been a key factor in my career. It is important to embrace change rather than resisting it, especially in our rapidly changing digital world. There have been a number of times in my career when opportunities would have passed me by if I hadn’t embraced change.
My parents owned small businesses when I was young and I think the exposure that gave me to the importance of the customer has helped me in my approach to building relationships and using that to understand what stakeholders want. Lastly I think always being curious enough to challenge things and not take anything at face value has been important in my career development over the years."
What initiatives have you experienced within an organisation that you believe have helped you?
"The first is probably not so much an initiative, but rather working in an organisation that has an outcome focused culture and is also a meritocracy where people are rewarded for what they and their teams are able to achieve. I think the second is flexible working initiatives. I have four children and have worked flexibly for nearly 17 years now. There has never been any suggestion that I couldn’t do any of the roles I have held over the years part time, or that I wouldn’t progress in my career if I was working part time. I was always given the space and accountability to determine how I would deliver on my areas of responsibility. I think both these things have significantly contributed to me being able to perform to my highest ability, without being held back in any way."
Can you highlight any career defining moments?
"Most of my career-defining moments relate to times where I needed to adapt and evolve either what I did, or my teams did, and how we embraced that change and made the adjustments required to succeed. Change can be confronting and often takes us out of our comfort zone, but this is when we learn the most."
What advice would you share with females on how to progress their careers within Accounting & Finance?
"In the early years of your career focus on gaining experience across as broad a range of areas as possible, then start to build more depth in particular areas you think you enjoy and are good at. Be open to opportunities that will build your skills and experience, and make sure you are always being challenged and learning new things. Once you get comfortable in a role it is time to try something new or take on more responsibility. It is also important to remember that opportunities are not just something that is presented to you, for example as a job offer, you can actually go out and find the opportunities yourself.
I think my primary recommendation would be to make sure you are always developing your networks both internally and externally. Networks can help you find opportunities, help you generate ideas and help you solve problems. Finally always be true to yourself and what you want to achieve in both your personal and professional life. This is different for everyone, but you will be much happier if you give the right balance to both."