Sydney is primed to be the next Silicon Valley: This is what Australian tech companies need to emerge as global tech leaders.

Silicon valley? Forget that. Sydney is on its way to be the next global tech city.

AfterPay, Canva, Zip, Atlassian, Prospa – all tech companies founded right here in Sydney. All companies that are growing, experiencing exponential success and earning Sydney a coveted spot in the tech hubs of the world.

So, what are the key drivers Sydney Startups need to evolve into a global technology hub and become the next Silicon Valley?

The NSW government is committed to backing up technology based initiatives on many fronts. In the green tech space, Dominic Perrottet and the NSW government has just signed off on Australia’s largest hydrogen strategy – a move that will see green hydrogen jobs in NSW outstrip those in the coal industry in the next couple of decades.

Just a couple of weeks ago, $1 billion in funding announcements for Australian startups was announced. The tech industry is growing at an unprecedented pace, and now is the time for Aussie founders to capitalise and bring their pioneering ideas to life.

Frasers Property Australia and Dexus are underway to bring to life Sydney’s new $2.5 billion Central Place Sydney development making Central Place Sydney a magnet for all aspiring founders from Asia Pacific, and arguably globally, along with local talent, to bring a new wave of tech-driven businesses and products to Australia.

Tech Central, announced by the NSW Government, will be home to the country’s most innovative and entrepreneurial tech companies, putting Sydney at the forefront of the industry, attracting talent and providing a hub from which to succeed.

Latest research by Accenture and the TechCouncil (PDF, 20.7 MB) shows that the Australian tech sector has become a critical part of the economy, contributing $167bn to GDP per year and 861,000 jobs. That makes technology the third largest contributor for the year behind mining and finance. If you look at the market capitalisation of the ASX information technology index grew over 120% between June 2019 and June 2021.

On the flipside, we know we have some challenges to tackle, especially as a young and fast-growing tech hub city. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2021 Report, only 20% of employees in Australia are “engaged”. There’s certainly a growing mismatch between the pace at which money is pouring into the sector, the growth and emergence of new tech companies, and that of the shortage of talent and engagement level of employees.

This gap is predicted to be the biggest challenge ahead of the sector especially with the forecasted “great resignation” early next year – a phase where a high percentage of great talent will be looking to exit their employments and look for new opportunities. So, if you’re a successful startup with solid products and backed by invaluable investors, there’s still challenges ahead of you.

And the answer is – your company culture. Workplace culture is a key determinant of employee satisfaction, motivation and overall productivity. As CEO and co-founder of Airbnb Brian Chesky says, “a company’s culture is the foundation for future innovation. An entrepreneur’s job is to build the foundation.”

What does good culture mean here?

It means authenticity. Company values lived and breathed.

Start-ups often begin with a problem in the world that needs fixing, whether a value-based one or a gap in the market that needs to be addressed. The innovative companies of today often have goals of contributing to the greater good in some capacity, values that need to be internalised as well as projected. Lest there be a situation where you lose the trust of your customers, leaving them feeling deceived and disenfranchised.

Good culture also means attracting good people.

Australia is facing a shortage of employees in the tech sector, hugely exacerbated by the pandemic which saw international borders closed and reduced our reliance on the shared global talent economy. Although the sector did generate tens of thousands of jobs during the pandemic, there are still just not enough people to do them. 

This is hugely risky to the growth and success of tech companies, because good people means good output. Good people want career growth. And one of the keys to attracting talent is the promise of good culture and valuable experiences within the company – which speaks directly to their career growth aspirations.

Think collaboration, proper reporting structures, healthy resolution discourse, flexible work arrangements, forward thinking health policies, unique experiences, innovative offices, employee incentives. 

Good culture also means good leadership.

Drive. Passion. Vision. Authenticity. And knowing your WHY. 

A leader who dreams big but stays grounded. A leader who is committed to the success of their company and the people within it.

Good culture also fosters growth.

It constructs an environment that encourages creativity, idea-sharing, and brainstorming, and leaves space for opinions and discourse.

Culture is a key driving factor in the ultimate success of Sydney as the next Silicon Valley, and if you can get that right, you will have a solid foundation from which to scale-up.

Who is The Culture Equation?

The Culture Equation, a boutique Sydney-based management consultancy that supports fast growing organisations developing high impact, healthy cultures. They sat down with a few x-factor candidates to understand what they look for in their next big company. Good culture was one of their biggest attractions, together with opportunity for growth and good leadership.

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