Ivan began his career as an accountant with KPMG, and quickly moved into the corporate finance sector. He has spent the last fifteen years at Macquarie Group, a successful and highly entrepreneurial Asia-Pacific investment bank. Ivan holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Technology, Sydney, and a Masters of Applied Finance from Macquarie University. He joined London Business School’s Sloan Masters in Leadership and Strategy in January 2013.
I’ve been extremely fortunate throughout my professional career, taking advantage of some amazing opportunities and working in great cities like Sydney and London. In over 15 years at Macquarie I was involved in plenty of deals and with businesses in lots of different places and industries, and very focused on ‘getting things done’. In recent years, I came to realise that to be truly effective, I needed to focus more on softer skills. If truth be told, I needed to be a little more human in how I thought about and reacted to situations.
I decided that I wanted to take a sabbatical. I wanted to develop these softer skills and learn more about some of the big changes happening in the world that I couldn’t explore whilst working full-time in investment banking. My goal was to find a demanding programme that would help me achieve these objectives alongside high-calibre people from a variety of cultural and professional backgrounds.
With four small children, it was also important that I stayed in London so my studies didn’t disrupt my family.
A friend recommended London Business School’s Sloan Fellowship; after speaking with several alumni, I realised that Sloan offered me academic rigour at an appropriate level and the chance to build a truly global network of interesting and dynamic people.
Investment banks have cultural diversity, but in reality there’s a pretty big ‘self-selection’ process involved in working there, so people can be quite similar in terms of background and motivation. Sloan introduced me to a raft of new people and experiences outside finance that I would never have otherwise encountered. It also changed my approach to leadership.
There were 23 countries represented in my cohort; I worked closely with a cardiologist from Texas, a scriptwriter from the UK, advertising executives from Japan and members of the military from various Asian countries. With so many different backgrounds and skills, the group projects and ventures we worked on provided a wonderful (and safe) testing ground for the softer skills I learnt in class. Sloan has definitely made me more versatile as an executive and I have a new toolkit to help me adapt my style to different situations.
Coming from a big organisation, I really enjoyed the opportunity to get involved in the London Business School entrepreneurship community. Exploring new ventures and testing out businesses with senior faculty like John Bates and Rupert Merson was particularly inspiring. Richard Jolly’s practical soft skills portfolio had a big impact on me – I work more collaboratively than before, and whilst it may be a cliché, I now think about leadership in terms of influence rather than power.
I’ve also experienced a real shift in the way I want to see businesses working in the community. I was Chair of Businesses for Islington Giving, a collection of businesses that contribute resources to create opportunities in the borough where I lived in London. It was a resounding success – mentoring students in schools, providing strategic advice to charities and social enterprises and raising money for different local causes. Sloan has helped me build a different perception of success; part of this means ensuring that I use my new skills to make a meaningful impact within my own community.
Finance and business has developed a bad reputation in the last decade, and some of this is certainly justified.
But I still believe that business is one of the great forces for good in society, and hope that I have played a small part in demonstrating this since finishing up my Sloan experience and moving back into the business world.