Drawing on 30 years of international banking experience, Australian Export Awards judge and Export Finance Australia’s Managing Director and CEO Swati Dave shares her insights on business success.

22 Nov 2021

With a CV like hers, we were thrilled when Swati Dave joined the Australian Export Awards judging panel.

Dave brings more than 30 years of experience to the task, having led banking businesses across Australia, the UK, Hong Kong and Singapore. She’s currently Managing Director & CEO at Export Finance Australia, the Australian Government’s export credit agency supporting export businesses with commercial financing.

She’s also the Deputy Chair for Asia Society Australia; on the Advisory Board of the National Foundation for Australia-China Relations; the New South Wales Government superannuation fund State Super; and the QIC Global Infrastructure Investment Committee.

Clearly, Dave is someone who can rise to a challenge or two. ‘I choose roles that are diverse and challenging,’ she confirms. ‘I thrive on that challenge and look for opportunities to create value.’

A passion for growth

In all her roles and experiences, Dave remains passionate about transforming and growing businesses. ‘I believe that if you can grow a business, then you can create opportunities for people to grow with that business,’ she says.

‘Through my roles, I’ve had the opportunity to see how so many SME businesses are pivoting in the current global landscape. The ability of these businesses to adapt and change is always inspiring.’

It’s this celebration of creativity and diversity that Dave enjoys most about being an Australian Export Awards judge.

‘It’s a privilege to look closely at how so many Australian exporters are doing really well on the international stage. It’s been great to celebrate their resilience, how they're approaching different challenges and new markets, and what kind of creativity and innovation they’re bringing.’

Dave sees great value in the Australian Export Awards process.

‘I think it’s a good validation of what a business is doing to succeed. It also helps create visibility more broadly, because not everyone may know what the business is doing.’

Advice for applicants

When it comes to crafting a compelling application, Dave suggests considering the following elements when responding to the judging criteria to help separate you from the pack:

  1. A clear value proposition: ‘What's the problem that you’re solving? For me, that’s got to come through very easily.’
  2. Ambition: ‘I like to see that they’ve been bold, have ambition and aren’t limiting themselves. That’s what drives people to keep going.’
  3. Innovation: ‘There are always going to be challenges, and this is where creativity and innovation can be really important for exporters.’
  4. A community mindset: ‘While a business can be doing great things, it must also do great things for its people and its community. This is really important to me.’

The secrets to success

Dave’s advice for creating a successful export business goes back to the basics.

‘You need to understand the market, the risks and the opportunities. You need to know what unique skill, product or capability you bring. Then factor this into your business plan; your approach, your timing and your financing.’

Dave also points to leveraging the community around you.

‘There's a lot of great experience within Australia,’ she advises. ‘Many exporters are incredibly generous with their time and their advice. So, I’d encourage all exporters to tap into their networks and communities.’

Organisations like Austrade and the Export Council of Australia, as well as various state and federal agencies, can also be great guides.

‘And of course, Export Finance Australia! There are so many talented people and innovative businesses in Australia. We‘re here to back them, and it’s important that these businesses also back themselves.’

Swati Dave, MD and CEO, Export Finance Australia
The Export Finance Australia Business Development Team, Adam and Jana
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