• Caterina Sullivan

The Australian's Strategic Forum in Partnership with BHP




Wednesday November 18 and Thursday November 19 last week saw the Strategic Forum run by The Australian in partnership with BHP move to an online format during the COVID-19 pandemic.


The conversation, naturally, centred around COVID-19 and the need to rebuild strategically in a post-pandemic world.


There was also a lot of talk about China and the ongoing trade disputes and how we can move beyond these disagreements as well as the current political climate in the United States.


There was a lot of praise for Australia's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, while recognising some of the mistakes which were incredibly costly - not only financially but more importantly resulted in the loss of human lives.


Australia's low comparative debt, the government's fiscal policy decisions and the Reserve Bank's monetary decisions showed leadership not only in the region but around the world. This was an incredibly important point when discussing Australia as the little sibling of the United States of America and how Australia was actually a leader out of the two nations when it came to the government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


We also heard a very interesting conversation about cyber-security, especially in light of the pandemic. This comes a matter of weeks after Australia's Cyber-Security week. At SSC, we are incredibly passionate about making the cyber-security conversation accessible for small businesses and small business owners. An interesting suggestion was made by Alana Maurushat, Professor of Cybersecurity and Behaviour, Western Sydney University, to give third- and fourth-year university students studying cyber-security real-world experience by training them on small businesses, in the same way that legal aid works in the law profession.


Pip Marlow, CEO of Salesforce Australia and New Zealand, provided some insight into the working from home trend and where she sees the future of the office and leadership heading in 2021. Ms Marlow brought up improved accountability thanks to the working from home trend as it removed a large part of the personal relationship bias from performance reviews. She also discussed how transitioning from office work to working from home highlighted the fact that, when needed, executives can make very quick decisions without having to take the idea to a trial phase, gathering research and discussing the benefits and drawbacks. At SSC, we believe this is good learning to take on moving forward. Processes that can take months of deliberation and planning can actually be shortened by just diving in, maybe with a smaller portion of the business in order to be efficient and effective.


There were further discussions about the future of our relationship with trading partners in the Indo-Pacific region and the opening of borders and businesses. In short, it is difficult to predict with any certainty what 2021 will look like. SSC would like to recommend all businesses be flexible to whatever change may come in the new year and remain resilient as we continue through an uncertain and unprecedented era.