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People Moves - Macquarie hires Shemara Wikramanayake CEO

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Latest Career News on Prominent Female Executives across Industry:

Australia’s biggest investment bank Macquarie Group appointed Shemara Wikramanayake as chief executive and managing director, to replace incumbent Nicholas Moore.

Ms Wikramanayake would be moving on from her role as boss of Macquarie’s $375 billion asset management arm, to become Macquarie Group's first female chief executive.

She, has been with the group for over 30 years and at 56, becomes one of just 14 female CEOs in the ASX200, and the only female CEO among Australia's 20 biggest companies by market value.

Ms Wickramanayake has highlighted the culture of meritocracy at the Australian investment bank being integral to her success, stating that she’s never faced discrimination because of her gender or ethnicity.

She does however, recognise the challenge the financial services sector faces in tackling systemic problems of gender equality – especially the lack of women in corporate leadership and boardroom positions.

Highlighting the challenge of attracting more women into the industry:

“We as an industry are not attracting enough females,” she said, noting that “maybe there’s unconscious bias in industry”.

A number of factors had resulted in the low representation of women, including the rate at which women are attracted to finance courses at university.

“So the first thing is to persuade girls what a good career this is and that there’s nothing that makes it more fitted to a male to do than a female,” she said.

As a mother of two who has had to balance her family and her career, she said she wanted to see companies provide both men and women more opportunity to work flexibly.

If men also had flexible work options this would allow women “to have more balance in their lives” and allow more female partners to step forward.

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