The Commonwealth Bank team reflects on 31 years with the Australian Export Awards program. The Bank shares 5 important questions that drive innovation for Aussie business. 

22 Nov 2021

With more than 15 million customers, 870,000 shareholders and 50,000 staff, the Commonwealth Bank knows a thing or two about business. The finance industry leader has also supported the Australian Export Awards program for a whopping 31 years. 

‘We have an obligation to build a future for all Australians. And that’s why we partner with great programs like the Australian Export Awards,’ says Andrew Speers, CommBank’s General Manager, Working Capital. ‘We see so many good exporters and business in Australia. We want to help them be recognised around the world.’ 

Three decades on: an expanding export landscape 

So, what’s changed for the Australian Export Awards in 31 years of partnership? Most notably, the breadth of support for our export community, says Speers.

‘As the Australian economy has grown and developed, so too has the Australian Export Awards;’ he says. ‘They’ve moved with Australia’s new, intelligent society. In the 1960s we were working with manufacturing, material exporters and miners. Today, we’ve expanded to include higher IP areas, like advanced materials and professional services.’ 

Speers has also noticed a change in the awards’ recognition of value-added services. These are features added to a core product to improve user experience. He says that ‘more businesses are exporting a value-added service, rather than the good itself.’ 

It’s a changing export landscape driven by Aussie passion, innovation and good old-fashioned hard work. As Speers notes, ‘We’re seen around the world as creative and critical thinkers who solve problems. And our products and services carry a premium value against that brand.’ 

How Aussie businesses can stay innovative

It’s no secret that innovation is critical to success. But how can Aussie businesses live up to their innovation reputation? Speers says businesses shouldn’t dwell too much on asking if they are innovative. 

Instead, businesses should ask different sorts of questions, such as:

  1. How can I be a more efficient business?
  2. Am I thinking about what’s next for my business and its broader stakeholders?
  3. What am I doing about offsetting carbon?
  4. What am I doing about sustainable social goals?
  5. How am I going to remain relevant to my customer base for the next 20 years? 

‘It’s this kind of critical thinking that will drive innovation and future success,’ says Speers. 

The future is regional 

Looking forward to the next 3 decades CommBank sees a bright future for Australian exports. Speers says to watch out for regional Australia.

‘Given our new hybrid working environments, I think we’ll see a lot of our advanced engineering, manufacturing and service businesses moving regionally,’ says Speers. ‘So, I would expect to see a big uplift in regional representation at future Australian Export Awards.’ 

As a proud regional Aussie himself, Speers urges businesses looking to the regions to make the move.

‘Australia’s success is built on the back of the regions, be it agriculture, mining, or other services. There is a lot of intelligent and capable people here!’ 

Speers’ final call to action for Aussie businesses? ‘Just have a go. That’s what we do.’ Here’s to another exciting 31 years.

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