It was a gathering of the brightest lights in Australia’s tech sector, mingling with politicians and media alike at Old Parliament House in Canberra last night to celebrate the Tech Council of Australia’s mission to address the country’s glaring skills shortage in the industry.
And Women Love Tech was excited to be invited to attend the event and share some of the memorable moments.
Emceed by The Australian’s Helen Trinca, the speakers included Didier Elzinga, Tech Council of Australia (TCA) Board Director and Founder & CEO Culture Amp, Mina Radhakrishnan from :Different, Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon Ed Husic; the Hon Paul Fletcher, the Shadow Minister for Science and the Arts and TCA CEO Kate Pounder.
The Tech Council of Australia CEO Kate Pounder shared the TCA’s goal to increase the number of people in the tech industry by 1.2 million people as well as advocate for the conditions tech companies need to grow, attract investment, and create jobs across a range of critical Australian industries.
Minister for Industry and Science, the Hon Ed Husic, who this week launched the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, one of the largest peacetime industry investments, said: “We want to make sure that we support the power of your ideas and when you want that support and you are ready to grow that you never have to feel like you have to go off shore.”
The Hon Paul Fletcher, the Shadow Minister for Science and the Arts, said that while the tech sector had suffered a difficult year, there were plenty of reasons to be buoyant about the future.
“It’s been a year when the NASDAQ has been down 30 per cent, crypto business FTX collapsed – that’s $32 billion vaporised, bitcoin started the year at $65,000 AU now $24,000 AU, Canva’s market value peaked at $40 billion US and is now $26 billion but the Tech Council is undaunted and the tech sector is undaunted – and so it should be,” he said. “Why should the sector be undaunted by these troubling financial metrics? There is nothing new about the fact that we are seeing a downturn in the tech sector. There are some people here who will remember the dot com bubble and the crash in the 2000’s.
“We’ve been here before and the sector has got through it. Notwithstanding the financial ups and downs, we’ve seen a profound digital transformations. We’ve seen whole categories that didn’t exist 25 years ago. Whether it’s streaming video or MRI vaccines, or low orbiting satellites and I’ve seen Michelle Simmons is here and she’s doing great work on quantum computing and I was talking to Larry Marshall from CSIRO and we know there is a lot more coming out of the labs. And we know there is very profound social behaviour thanks to the tech sector. Look at Black Friday, that wasn’t a thing ten years ago, and what about influencers – how could we live without them?”
The tech industry contributes $167 billion to the Australian economy annually and employs 861,000 people. This makes the tech sector Australia’s third-largest industry, behind mining and banking, and Australia’s seventh-largest employing sector.
Sharing his passion for the sector, Didier Elzinga, Tech Council Board Director and Founder and CEO, Culture Amp, said he swapped his glittering career in Hollywood working on films including Harry Potter, Batman and Lord of the Rings for a future in tech because he wanted to make an impact.
“I decided that as good as Hollywood was, I wasn’t going to make a dent in the universe,” he said. “What I cared about was bringing people together and an organisation that could do new things. Today we have all those things at Culture Amp and we have 1,000 people – over half of that living here in Australia.”
But Didier also commented that we can all do more to create better work environments.
“For better or for worse, work has been the way we create identity for ourselves and it’s become a very important thing for people and it’s become something we need to be better at,” she said. “That was really the idea behind the company which we started ten years ago.”
He also encouraged more people to join the tech sector because it’s not only well paid and boasts flexible working hours but it’s an exciting industry to work in.
About the Tech Council of Australia
The Tech Council of Australia is Australia’s peak industry body for the tech sector. Its members include leading and early-stage Australian tech companies, the Australian offices of multinational companies, and Australia’s most prominent venture capital and investment advisory firms.