It was the lure of new places and faces, and the challenge of fending for himself that encouraged Mark Dalton to leave Ireland in 2001. He tried but wasn’t convinced by life in the US so he dipped his toe into Australian waters instead. As an outdoorsy type, he found the lifestyle there suited him a lot better.
A chance meeting with an Australian backpacker while on holiday in Vietnam sealed the deal. Dalton, his wife Sophie, and their two young children now live in the Sydney suburb of Seaforth near the northern beaches.
Dalton is an associate director with Macquarie Group which is part of the Australian-owned global financial services group. His project team of 12 sits within compliance and risk management but its work is varied and cross-functional and there is a mix of skill sets within the team covering areas such as project and change management, technology and business analysis.
Dalton spent three years with Deloitte before moving to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and into his first job in project management in risk
Dalton has built up a breadth of business experience since moving down under, having worked for GE Money, Qantas and the AICD which is the Australian equivalent of the Institute of Directors in Ireland. His primary degree is a BSc in management but his first job (with Microsoft in Dublin) was as a software tester and the early part of his career, which also included stints with Eircom and Bank of Ireland before he left home, was in this field.
It was the move to the AICD that gave Dalton his first real taste of project management and set him on a new career path. “I had joined the AICD in a software testing role, but I got the opportunity to do some project management and found it really appealed to me,” he says. “I started studying for a qualification in project management and subsequently moved to Deloitte in a project management role. Deloitte was a very good experience in terms of training in this area and I learned a lot while I was there.”
Dalton spent three years with Deloitte before moving to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and into his first job in project management in risk. From there he joined Macquarie in 2020 as a senior manager and was promoted to associate director in May last year.
“I’ve been lucky with my career progression, but there were some tough times especially during the global financial crisis when there were a lot of lay-offs and life became very precarious if you were working as a contractor,” he says.
One of the things Dalton likes most about working in Australia is the diversity and multicultural environment.
“When I worked in Bank of Ireland — and I know it was a long time ago now and things have changed — everyone was more or less the same in terms of background so it meant that we all came to things with much the same perspective. Here, you could have 10 different nationalities and perspectives represented in the room and that’s stimulating and very refreshing.”
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Like most other countries, Australia is getting to grips with what the world of work looks like post-Covid and Dalton says there is a move to get people back into the office for at least three days a week. He’s on that page.
“I generally go into the office four days a week largely because I think it’s very hard to collaborate when everyone is working remotely. It’s much easier face to face,” he says. “However, my work involves different time zones so I can work flexible hours too when needed to accommodate the fact that I’m taking calls at night. Macquarie is quite a difficult organisation to get into and I find the calibre of the people I’m working with very motivating so it’s good to be in their company.”
When I first came to Sydney, I lived in Manly and really enjoyed the fact that sport is such a big part of life here. People were very active in a way they weren’t at home at the time— Mark Dalton
The Daltons first got on to the property ladder in Australia with a “doer-upper” apartment which they subsequently sold to buy a house with a garden when the children arrived. “We’re very happy where we are now and it’s great to be able to get up and go running on the beach first thing in the morning. There are just so many more opportunities because of the weather.
“When I first came to Sydney, I lived in Manly and really enjoyed the fact that sport is such a big part of life here. People were very active in a way they weren’t at home at the time.
“I used to play tennis but when the kids came along it was too time-consuming, so I took up running and do regular half marathons and the occasional marathon instead. There are great facilities here for young kids. There is literally a playground on every corner. When I was home last summer, I was struck by how few playgrounds there are in Dublin.
“Sydney is like a home from home for me as the shape of Sophie’s family mirrors mine — I’ve one sister and one brother and so has she. Her parents and her brothers live locally and her family are very similar to my family in terms of values and their approach to life,” Dalton adds.
“I don’t miss anything about Dublin as a place, but I do miss my family and friends. That said, I’m so long here it feels completely natural and I definitely appreciate the outdoor lifestyle and the good weather.”