Understand your identity as a leader

After completing his first leadership exercise with a healthy dose of honesty and a natural sense of intrigue, Phil Goldie recalled waiting for the word cloud to generate.

That headline moment designed to capture the very essence of you as an influential executive, a label which can offer insight and explanation in equal measure.

The word cloud generated… ‘calmness’ – more than 20 years of experience whittled down into eight letters.

“I remember being hugely disappointed,” Goldie admitted. “It’s not particularly dynamic and naturally, I wanted ‘dynamism’, ‘thought leader’ or something along those lines.”

Phil Goldie (Okta)

Injecting a refreshing sense of transparency into the conversation, Goldie quickly came to learn that was actually a positive, an invaluable attribute in such a turbulent market.

“That’s what people value of me,” he said. “In a chaotic environment, I can be calm. I’m not going to add value by not being that but if what you need is calm, then I can be calm.”

The flip side of that can be urgency however. Do measured leaders insert enough immediacy into situations when they have a natural inclination to remain cool-headed?

“Don’t confuse calmness for a lack of urgency,” Goldie clarified, speaking as Vice President and Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand (A/NZ) at Okta. “Being able to articulate your style and how people experience you is very important.”

Goldie comes out almost at the end of the extreme introvert scale on a Myers Briggs Assessment – the “most profound” learning he has experienced about how he processes information in over two decades of occupying executive leadership roles in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

“I’m a huge introvert,” he added. “I’ve learned a lot in my career about how I manage my time and my energy and one is that I tend to make decisions on my own.

“Not as in I decide on my own but I’ll usually consume a lot of information and discussion, then take that away and process it. Once I tapped into that, it became a very powerful thing to understand about myself.”

Translated into day-to-day work, that means Sydney-based Goldie has lots of conversations as a “big believer” in creating a shared understanding of a problem. Time is methodically spent ensuring teams understand the right problem – “and we understand it clearly” – to ensure the group holds the same view from the outset.

“We hire smart people who can fix pretty much anything but if we don’t understand the problem, we tend to make mistakes,” he advised. “That’s why wallowing more and being more patient in getting to a decision suits me better.”

In that context, Goldie’s preference is to network and have a range of discussions to pick up nuggets of information from colleagues, customers, partners or the industry in general. No agenda, rather a take on the current climate to help shape thinking on a particular issue.

“If we’re talking about trying to improve something, we’ll have that discussion but then I’ll spend time away talking, listening, reading and thinking around the issue,” he added. “That external perspective is also very important.”

Whether in life or in business, the lazy – and incorrect assumption – to make is that introverts are shy and submissive, often avoiding any form of social engagement or interaction. Bill Gates is an introvert, so is Warren Buffet, Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg.

On the flip side, extroverts are stereotypically defined as expressive – perhaps even aggressive – as well as outgoing and energetic. Bill Clinton is an extrovert, as was Steve Jobs and Muhammad Ali.

“This is less about confidence, rather where you get your energy from,” Goldie noted. “I’ve done the standing on stage addressing 2000 people many times and I’m perfectly comfortable doing that, it’s an important clarification to make.”

As an introvert leader, Goldie replenishes energy when alone unlike extroverts who thrive on having people around them as a source of fuel.

“I’m very comfortable in all-hands and conferences but what I’ve learned is that those environments are quite draining for me,” he acknowledged. “Not in a negative way, rather that once I’ve finished one of those sessions, I shouldn’t do a one-on-one with someone because my energy will be lower. That’s the classic introvert vs. extrovert definition.”

By that definition, Goldie can’t change who he is and nor should he – in the same way that extroverts should also embrace their own attributes.

“Being aware is one of the biggest learning moments in my career,” Goldie said. “Figuring out who I really am is one part, but then it was about figuring out how to operate very effectively as an introvert.”

Punch ‘what type of leader am I?’ into the search bar and Google will return 1.85 billion results within 0.32 seconds – an endless supply of tests and quizzes carrying various degrees of credibility.

There’s no shortage of leadership exercises taking place across the market on a daily basis but those character judgements don’t all convert into action.

This isn’t about which trait is right or wrong for leadership, rather the value in understanding who you are as a leader. But as Goldie attested, understanding your make-up is one thing, acting accordingly is another matter entirely.

“Be honest and open with the team about how they’ll experience you as a leader,” he said. “These tests helped me articulate those things to my team.”

New role, same identity

Joining Okta in May 2022 came with the remit of defining an emerging digital identity market on both sides of the Tasman, spearheaded by an expanding customer and partner base.

Prior to this, Goldie spent 12 years at Microsoft in a range of leadership roles spanning sales, partner and marketing – most recently as Director of Small, Medium and Corporate. This was in addition to six years at Nortel at the start of his career.

In stepping out of Microsoft – a behemoth in terms of market size and stature – Goldie is now exposed to a different level of scrutiny as commander-in-chief of a region.

“100% – I feel it every day,” Goldie said.

“In leaving a place like Microsoft where I’d worked for 12 years, I was 100% convinced that joining Okta was the right decision. There’s never been a day that I’ve looked back and questioned that.”

Phil Goldie (Okta)

Despite such conviction, Goldie accepted that it took a period of time between leaving Microsoft and joining Okta to fully grasp his value as a newly appointed country leader. The buck now stops with him.

“This will sound like a pun but yes, what’s actually my identity?” Goldie questioned. “How much of what I achieved was actually me? How much of that was being in the right place, at the right time, at a company like Microsoft?”

Goldie spent a lot of time pondering those core questions:

  • Will I succeed?
  • Do I have the capabilities?
  • Did I just ride the wave?
  • How successful will I be without the structure of a larger company?
  • What can I bring to the table in my new role?

“You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t wake up every day and have those questions in your mind,” Goldie shared. “Looking back some 20 months on from that, there’s now less questions in my mind because of the good amount of success that we’ve delivered as a team.”

For Goldie, joining Okta was never a case of “am I making the right decision?” rather “am I clear on my identity?”

Demonstrating this level of humility – and vulnerability – is rare in a market still moving away from archaic impressions of what leadership looks like. But Goldie has self-awareness in spades, backed by a steely resolve and understanding of what truly makes him tick as a high-performing executive.

“Did I feel a need to change my identity in this new role? Maybe a little but it wasn’t a case of, ‘we want this version of you, could you be that?’ instead,” Goldie clarified. “Leadership is all about authenticity and people follow people that they believe are genuine.”

And Goldie has the battle scars to prove it, having made this mistake “plenty of times” in his accomplished career so far.

“In the past when I’ve pivoted between sales, channel and marketing type roles, I’ve made the error of thinking, ‘okay, I’m moving into this position so I need to somehow be different’,” he shared. “You need different skills and you learn that along the way but who you are and how you show up has to be one of the most consistent things – the most valuable thing.”

Also, a natural point exists mentally when comparisons to previous employers and methods of working must stop.

“You do it because that’s your big reference point about how things should be done but you must lose the habit of verbalising that,” Goldie said. “Think about it, ‘at Microsoft this or at Microsoft that’ is not interesting or helpful to people.”

Instead, Goldie viewed this as tapping into information that would be useful in the moment and with context. The art of the transition is picking your moment, if a moment even exists.

“Okta is a fast growth company with less resource compared to Microsoft so it can be quite exhausting for people if you’re constantly demanding that things should be done in a previous way,” he outlined. “Sometimes my past experience is applicable, other times it isn’t.”

Making a career-defining decision

In long and deliberate discussions with Steven Worrall – Managing Director of A/NZ at Microsoft – about future aspirations, Goldie started the process of outlining his next career steps.

But that wasn’t an easy choice – “it’s not as if I was trying to get out of something that wasn’t enjoyable, that definitely wasn’t the case.”

Having joined the company in early 2010, Goldie’s timing was almost perfect. Arriving in the months after the Windows 7 launch, this was a vendor back on track and finding its groove – amplified by the appointment of Satya Nadella as CEO in 2014 and the transition to cloud.

“There was a lot of huge foundational shifts and before I even thought about leaving, it was important to reflect that I couldn’t have spent 12 years in a better place in terms of my own career and development,” Goldie said.

“It was a fantastic place to work and I say that working for a company that now competes with Microsoft. As a culture, a place to learn and an innovator – I believe it’s probably without parallel.”

That was the context in which Goldie was weighing up his options, which centred on three key considerations.

  1. Personal
  2. Impact
  3. Experience

Personal in the sense that relocating outside of Australia wasn’t an option for Goldie, his wife and three children. Having already moved to New Zealand for two years between 2017 and 2019, options existed to advance into Singapore or the US but that wasn’t a priority.

“I remember the day we talked about that because we’d kicked that can down the road for many years,” Goldie recalled. “But if I got a job offer tomorrow and we had to all jump on a plane and go, would we go? The answer was not right now.

“Some could look at that as limiting and discounting opportunity but we found it liberating as a family. That helped clarify what I really wanted to focus on.”

From an impact standpoint, this was based on learnings from Worrall as a passionate leader who cared about taking the capabilities and assets of a large technology company to help solve ongoing problems in Australia.

“How do we put our company to work?” Goldie said.

Yes, job one is to absolutely make the number and grow the business. But a “bigger and broader” purpose exists with regards to how a vendor can help a nation – whether that be Okta or Microsoft.

“Having an impact beyond just selling projects is important,” he noted. “As a migrant to this country 21 years ago, that grounded me back in Australia as a country.”

Phil Goldie (Okta)

Impact always comes with responsibility however. Looking back on a “very clear period” in his career at Microsoft, Goldie recalled having lots of ideas about what impact the business should be doing more broadly beyond the sales number.

“But I was accountable for that and we were missing the number,” he cautioned. “A mentor internally said, ‘all of that other stuff is only valued if you’re actually delivering the results’ and that’s why I’m very clear that job one is to drive success.

“I don’t see them as being mutually exclusive because the sales leadership component offers a starting point upon which to build.”

The third consideration was from a professional standpoint and what Goldie – who is more of a podcast listener than voracious reader – wanted to experience during the next phase of his career.

For a long time, careers have been viewed as linear professions moving towards bigger and better things, translating into more money, better job titles and increased responsibility.

“That has absolute value, of course,” Goldie said. “But I was 47 when I left Microsoft and I asked myself, do I want to do these types of roles for maybe 10 more years?”

Then a mentor injected… “change the way you think about this, don’t focus on 10 years as the same continuation and progression – that’s probably two or three jobs.”

That was when Goldie’s perspective switched. What two or three jobs do you want to spend the rest of your working life actually doing? When framed that way, the options look different.

“But don’t think of them as jobs, reframe it to projects and ways to have an impact,” Goldie expanded.

“It sounds a little high purpose but it was pretty profound and influenced my thinking. Do I really care about the titles those roles have or the perceived seniority? Versus the environments that would be interesting and deliver the outcomes that I want to deliver?”

So, if you only have three jobs left… write the three jobs down and go and find them. In addition to a Board Member role at the Children’s Medical Research Institute (CMRI), that translated into experience working in a:

  • High-growth, smaller technology company
  • Different size and shape company with very specific domain expertise
  • Company with a role that allowed career learnings to be applied and passed on

At this stage, it was less about jobs and companies.

“Okta is just good fun, that’s the word I use most consistently to describe it,” Goldie said. “Not every day and not every thing but in aggregate, it’s just good fun.”

This is a fast-paced business with less than 6,000 employees globally, creating gaps in-between roles in which positions can be extended and different avenues of interest pursued.

“Gaps are good,” Goldie added. “It’s not quite choose your own adventure but you can certainly take any role here and define how big that scope is and the impact you want to have. That’s proven to be true for my role.”

Advancing the digital identity conversation

A key part of the interview process was Goldie examining to what extent that Okta – as a market-leading digital identity platform for businesses – needed a sales leader or country manager?

“Those two roles are quite different,” he explained.

Certain companies seek certain qualities at certain times with Goldie under the sharp understanding that job number one was simple – drive a successful business. In addition to that however, a broader skill set and way of thinking was also valued.

“Okta was a good fit for that,” he said. “This is a unique opportunity given how huge digital identity is becoming in Australia”

According to recent Okta findings – Secure Sign-In Trends Report – the use of multi-factor authentication (MFA) has nearly doubled since 2020 with phishing-resistant authenticators considered the leading choice in terms of security and convenience for users.

In Australia, the government is currently exploring legislation in this area supported by work from Victor Dominello and the Tech Council of Australia among others.

“There’s a lot of industry focus which was part of the bet in joining Okta,” Goldie added. “This creates a business opportunity to sell into but also a platform to participate in that discussion.

“These are complex problems and as a vendor, we’re in a position to help solve those problems while providing a voice that can help steer the thinking about what should be done at a systems level across the country.”

Looking ahead, Goldie said Okta will continue to become “more vocal” in the local market around this issue – not as a public relations exercise but to apply the business in a way capable of supporting national efforts.

Building industry influence won’t start and stop with Goldie however, with the wider leadership team embarking on purposeful and subtle ways to drive the agenda forward.

“An example of our thinking is around bringing more interns into Okta,” Goldie detailed. “Many of the universities in this country are huge customers of Okta so we’re exploring those partnerships and linking conversations togethers.”

Whatever the outcome in 2024 and beyond, Goldie is guided by the key question of… “how do we put our company to work?”

“The infrastructure stage is a little slower than software,” smiled Carlo Malana, in reference to heightening digital infrastructure demand in the Philippines.

“Unfortunately, data centres can’t be built overnight and you have to be strategic because once you pour concrete in the ground, it’s very hard to remove.”

Speaking as CEO of STT GDC Philippines – Globe’s data centre joint venture partnership with ST Telemedia Global Data Centres (STT GDC) and parent Ayala Corporation – Malana is accelerating plans to lay digital foundations at pace in a country craving new technologies.

The aim? To supercharge business and accelerate economic activity… “we’re preparing for a future with digital as a driver, it’s not slowing down anytime soon.”

Carlo Malana (STT GDC Philippines)

Why the Philippines?

In assessing the market landscape across Asia, regional data centre hubs have traditionally been located in Singapore and Hong Kong.

Singapore is running on empty with the nation significantly short on capacity while Hong Kong is feeling the geopolitical impact on business due to ongoing tensions between the US and China.

“The two main suppliers of digital infrastructure in the region have those situations to deal with,” Malana observed.

“If you look at the next wave of expansion, Singapore is full and Hong Kong is challenging for Western companies. So when you start putting all of these factors together, it makes sense that at some point, the market will look at an alternative.”

But even if both industry leaders bow out of such a competitive race, Manila-based Malana acknowledged that the rest of Southeast Asia remains. From that standpoint, STT GDC Philippines is “very bullish” on being an integral part of major expansion sites across the region, alongside Malaysia, Indonesia and even Thailand.

“The Philippines is definitely throwing its hat in the ring,” Malana said. “All of these countries have not gone as far as some of the more evolved nations in terms of digitalisation – these are nascent markets and more is to come.”

This part of ASEAN is still reliant on paper processes and remains dictated by “very archaic” ways of doing business.

“As generations of leadership evolve – running government departments and enterprise organisations – they are naturally more digital savvy and there’s simply more demand,” Malana outlined. “There’s a willingness to embrace the cloud and to leverage technology to move away from less efficient ways of transacting business.”

Citing the meteoric rise of GCash – a Philippine mobile payments service owned and operated by Globe Fintech Innovations – Malana said that even manual cheques and cash is starting to “disappear” across the country.

This was partly due to an extended lockdown period stretching almost two years during COVID-19, with schools missing face-to-face classes for more than 18 months.

“The lockdowns were just so long,” Malana said. “That forced the whole country to look at digital as an alternative, whether for online shopping or digital currency.

“But as a country, Filipinos are addicted to their smartphones and always top social graphs of Spotify, Facebook and TikTok adoption – not only in terms of consumption but generation of content. Our internet usage is high.”

Don’t forget the benefits of scale as well.

“We’re the second most populous country in the region at 114 million, behind only Indonesia at 274 million,” Malana explained. “So we’re a little less than half but the other countries after us are smaller, such as Malaysia (34 million) and Thailand (72 million).

Social dynamics aside, increased investment is also underway in the submarine cable space with cables now being terminated and landed locally. For example, Globe activated the segment of the Philippine Domestic Submarine Cable Network (PDSCN) from Luzon to Mindanao in January 2024, billed as the longest underwater cable in the country.

“It’s starting to make sense,” Malana noted. “We’re also able to leverage the international and global perspective of STT GDC and our opinion is that it’s a matter of when and not if in the Philippines.”

Such intent was illustrated when the business unveiled plans to develop its largest and most interconnected carrier-neutral data centre in the Philippines in May 2023.

Under the banner of STT Fairview, the new data centre campus will comprise over 83,000 square metres of gross floor area across four buildings, offering a development potential of 124 megawatts (MW) of IT load capacity once fully built out.

Geographically speaking, the facility is “strategically positioned” within Quezon City with access to nearby substations, as well as critical telecommunications and transportation links plus logistics, business and industry hubs.

The new data centre campus will cater to both hyperscalers and enterprises, providing “flexible and scalable” low-latency colocation options that are also sustainably built and operated.

“This will be a matter of execution,” Malana stated. “It’s a well-known fact that one of the key risks in this market is the ability to execute plans due to a range of issues such as weather or government regulations.

“But we want to be known as the company that delivers what we promise. With STT Fairview, we took the industry by surprise by making the announcement at the ground-breaking – this wasn’t ceremonial it was an actual ground-breaking and the next day, the bulldozers were working on the campus.”

STT Fairview

For Malana, this was the strongest statement of intent that STT GDC Philippines could make in the local market. Because after all, talk is cheap.

“One of the press actually asked me at the time whether this was typical,” he recalled. “It was viewed as a ceremonial event then out of nowhere we doubled the country’s entire capacity, then backed it up and started working on the project.”

Scaling up to service increased market demand

Since the unveiling, capacity was also expanded by a total 5.2MW across three existing data centres in Makati, Cavite and Quezon City. This is in addition to the construction of a second facility at the data centre campus in Cavite, bringing the total number of data centres to seven in the Philippines.

According to Malana, this is in response to “high market demand” and the continuing desire to digitally transform daily and business operations across the country.

“We received indication from the market that it was time for even heavier investment,” Malana said.

“Do I see 124MW of contracted demand today? No. But that’s why we’re building this in phases and initially starting with 20MW which is sizeable in itself and pretty much doubles our portfolio in terms of capacity.”

Aligned to a strategy of progressively building capabilities as market demand increases, STT GDC Philippines is operating against the backdrop of enhanced hyperscaler interest locally, notably from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft and Google Cloud. Most start as a point of presence, then move into local zones and expand into full-blown regions.

“We’re probably 2-3 years away from full-blown regions but we’re seeing that demand already,” Malana outlined. “We’ve seen other countries follow similar curves so we’re learning from those experiences to plan and time our strategy accordingly.”

As a result, Malana expects STT Fairview to arrive “at just the right time” to service the demands of the hyperscaler community while also building a dedicated digital ecosystem nationally to enhance local skills.

“Yes, a rising tide approach will help the whole industry but remember, each of the major players also have their turf to protect,” Malana advised. “No player wants to give up any advantage in terms of being able to offer cloud regions in our country.”

Driving a growing digital economy

According to Access Partnership research, the Philippines stands to unlock a “vast economic potential” of up to PHP5 trillion ($101.3 billion in USB) by 2030 through the “full utilisation” of digital technologies.

As outlined in the research – The Growing Digital Economy in the Philippines – technology applications such as e-commerce and mobile have also been projected to generate an annual economic value of up to PHP3.5 trillion ($69.9 billion in USD), accounting for approximately 69% of the nation’s anticipated digital opportunity.

Within this context, Malana said digital infrastructure emerges as a “critical building block” in powering the nation’s transformation journey to stimulate economic growth and nurture innovation.

“Every enterprise seems to have a cloud-first strategy now,” Malana observed. “But as leaders start to trust cloud the question shifts to, where is your cloud?

“Businesses are definitely embracing cloud but they also want to stay local. A few years ago, the talk was about sending our data out of the country because there wasn’t enough digital infrastructure here.”

Accelerated by the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), Malana said organisations are starting to understand the compute power required to supercharge such technologies.

“Businesses are storing a lot of unstructured data,” he said. “Before it was only a few gigabytes here and there but now it’s terabytes and even petabytes of information. Are you going to put that in a cloud in Singapore? Does that really make sense as a business decision?”

Prior to STT GDC Philippines, Malana served as CIO of the Globe Group, a digital solutions platform housing more than 54 million mobile and 3.5 million home broadband customers.

With over 20 years experience in telecommunications across the US, Mexico, and the Philippines, Malana has led both technology and business organisations across strategy, program management, merger integration, retail, finance, customer operations and sales.

“We founded this business with the understanding of serving the customer best,” Malana said. “We’ve been operating data centres in the Philippines for over two decades so we definitely will leverage that, plus the global strengths and design principles of STT GDC.”

Ask any CEO and most will agree that it can be lonely at the top – that sole mountaineer nestled at the summit, exposed to the elements.

Only you have been afforded the privilege of climbing to the peak, taking in a view that is exclusive to observe. As each sun rises and each sun sets however, no one below can truly understand the day-to-day considerations of the commander-in-chief.

“It’s a very singular role,” shared Laurence Baynham, drawing on almost a decade of high-performance as a publicly-listed CEO in Australia.

Laurence Baynham

Enough market research and executive anecdotes exist to support that theory – just ask Tim Cook in business or even King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

  • Yes, you are the single point of focus
  • Yes, you have a different thinking process
  • Yes, the buck absolutely stops with you

Baynham speaks with authority on this subject having held the position of CEO and Managing Director at Data#3 – a Brisbane-based IT services and solutions provider – for almost 10 years.

“When things go great as a CEO, it’s the best job in the world,” he acknowledged. “But when things don’t go so well, you quickly become the focal point and have to work your way through it.”

In Baynham’s previous position as Group General Manager, he shared a lot of input as part of the executive team – a relied upon voice to help drive strategic decision making.

“All of that was a fantastic experience but ultimately, the buck didn’t stop with me,” he accepted. “As a team member, I had my input and I felt great about it but I wasn’t the single point of focus if something succeeded or failed.”

In transitioning out of the business on 1 March 2024 – handing over the baton to seasoned executive Brad Colledge during a long-standing succession plan – Baynham has called time on 29 years of company service.

For the record, the financial achievements of Baynham as CEO are outstanding. During his tenure…

  • Revenue has increased from $800 million to $2.6 billion
  • Profit has increased by 500%
  • Market capitalisation has increased tenfold from $100 million to $1 billion
  • Headcount has increased from 800 to 1,400

Armed with three decades of experience at the apex – this is a lesson in leadership from one of Australia’s most successful CEOs:

  1. Learn the CEO language – body, tone, market…
  2. Leverage a solid support structure – strong leaders, good board
  3. You don’t own the culture, everyone does
  4. Build on your successor, leave a great business behind

Learn the CEO language – body, tone, market…

Baynham’s first day as CEO in 2014 offered a mixture of emotions. Daunting because it was an Annual General Meeting (AGM) but manageable because it was a transition – an introduction to the executive who would replace John Grant as leader.

“It was a big day but strangely enough, I didn’t have a role in it,” Baynham said. “I was taking over with big shoes to fill but obviously, it was very well planned.”

Having spent the previous 10 years running either the revenue or profit divisions of Data#3 – in addition to attending every board meeting – Baynham referred to this as his “10-year apprenticeship” for the role.

“Tongue in cheek, of course,” he qualified, with a smile.

When Baynham took over as CEO, Grant remained as Managing Director for 12 months as part of a lengthly transition period designed to minimise impact. The message was “business as usual” to shareholders, employees and customers with the change initiated as seamlessly as possible.

“There was a gap between what I thought it was going to be and then what it actually was,” Baynham added. “Because of my apprenticeship, I expected it to be almost more of the same. Not in the sense of ‘I know it all’ but I’d already done the operational aspects and run the business.”

To borrow a phrase from Biz Stone as one of the co-creators of Twitter, “timing, perseverance and 10 years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success.”

Baynham had dutifully, methodically and successfully earned his stripes in a measured transition built upon concrete foundations. Despite the preparation however, this aspiring executive rapidly understood that the requirements of CEO were “very different”.

“There was a range of new skills that I needed to acquire to become a CEO,” he said.

One such skill was body language.

“It’s visible in many different ways,” he observed. “Not just in terms of what you’re doing but how you phrase things and the context in which you address an issue. Then it was body language with the investment market – what you’re saying, how you’re saying it, the terminology you’re using.”

Laurence Baynham inducted into the HP Hall of Fame in November 2023

Whether reporting a good or a bad result to the market, body language was mission-critical. CEOs can ill afford to portray the wrong information or message through conscious or unconscious movements and postures.

When analysing popular TED Talks for ‘leadership signals’, Carole Railton – a renowned body language expert – cited the performances of successful leaders such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Tony Robbins as examples of best practice.

They all use non-verbal cues – including hand gestures and facial expressions – to their advantage. But is simply pointing, gesturing, smiling and leaning enough?

“A lot of people say that it’s down to presentation skills but it’s actually much more than that,” Baynham clarified.

Although most presentation skills that executives excel at are focused on providing a service or a solution to a customer, with personnel at Data#3 no different to industry norms.

“That’s effectively a sales type presentation,” Baynham explained. “But as CEO, you get seen through very quickly if you’re providing sales type presentations.”

Authenticity is everything when presenting to shareholders as a publicly listed business on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). For most executives, this requires a different mindset to show genuine balance… ‘if we do this, there’s advantages here but downsides there’.

“Coming from a sales background, I would have to curb some of my enthusiasm and look at what I’m presenting more objectively to provide a balanced assessment,” Baynham said. “That’s a skill I had to not only learn but continually hone.”

As CEO of the largest homegrown technology provider in Australia, Baynham is well-versed in the jargon that fills day-to-day conversations within the IT sector. Whether it be three-letter acronyms or buzzword bingo detailing the latest technologies, vocabulary changes rapidly and the industry adapts accordingly.

Not so much in investor relations.

“It’s almost like learning a new language,” Baynham accepted. “Our language in IT is very different, equally when we talk to our customers and partners.”

Instead – under intense shareholder spotlight – the CEO of a public company must shine in a discussion based on P/E ratios, payout ratios and market capitalisation.

An obvious statement on the surface but know this, more than an understanding is required to command the room of an AGM. How does this all work together? What does it mean for shareholders?

“Most know the terminology but it’s a different language when you’re dealing with brokers and analysts that are covering the business,” Baynham said. “They are usually trying to understand the IT sector on the other side.”

Naturally, as the business grows so does its stature. Under the ASX code of ‘DTL’, the company was added to the S&P/ASX 200 Index in September 2023.

“It’s like going up a league table,” explained Baynham, a keen football fan and supporter of West Ham United.

Such a promotion opens up access to super funds and index funds, plus a range of compliance such as ESG (environmental, social and governance) obligations. But what isn’t often considered is the increased exposure on the business and by association, the CEO.

In the case of Data#3, the amount of interest has morphed from coverage by one or two analysts during the past decade to as many as 10 today. Whether this be Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan or UBS, all are now providing extensive coverage to gain competitive advantage and better understand the business.

“None of that is known to the IT market,” Baynham outlined. “Those skills need to be acquired and then once you’re at the ASX 200 level, you need a different set of skills again.”

Leverage a solid support structure – strong leaders, good board

For Baynham, having good people around you as a CEO is both important and fortunate. But it’s more than offering blind support, nor should it be at the extreme.

“If you’ve got a board that either doesn’t understand the business well or understands the business too well and becomes overly demanding, then both can become difficult,” he expanded.

Laurence Baynham

The sweet spot is a board that is supportive but also capable of assisting the business with expert skills and guidance.

“I’m fortunate that my board has been able to achieve that,” said Baynham, who will be taking a clean break from Data#3 to pursue non-executive roles in the future. “The CEO doesn’t always have all the skills to be able to deal with everything, yet everything comes to the CEO.”

Whether financial, legal or related to industrial relations – calling on trusted and knowledgeable figures of advice can be invaluable, usually in the form of non-executive directors on the board.

This level of support also extended to Grant during the apprenticeship and transition periods, alongside Brem Hill as long-time CFO. Hill – who retired after 32 years of service at the end of 2023 – had been with the business since the company listed in 1997.

“I was reliant on his knowledge of investor relations,” Baynham noted. “During investor briefings at the end of each half, it was more than doing one presentation and sharing the information.

“We’d have around 30 meetings over a three-day period with an audience of usually 200-300, physically and virtually. It was a reasonable deal every six months and in doing that with Brem, I was able to pick it up quickly.”

There’s nothing better than learning on the job, which also extended into Baynham’s evolving view of risk management.

“Being CEO is ‘risk reward’ at its highest level,” he shared. “The business makes decisions each day in terms of what is good business and at what level of profit and risk profile. All of that perspective shifts when you become CEO.”

You don’t own the culture, everyone does

Spanning 12 locations across Australia and Fiji, Data#3 houses more than 1,400 employees. This is a business that has evolved from a “relatively small” Brisbane-based company into an IT services giant in the local market.

Powering that is a “unique culture”.

“As we’ve grown into a natural business, part of the challenge was keeping the right elements of our culture,” Baynham said. “We always avoided being fragmented to ensure we ran the same businesses in Melbourne, Perth or Hobart. We’ve been able to keep our common values.”

The Data#3 culture is based on five core principles:

  1. Honesty
  2. Excellence
  3. Agility
  4. Respect
  5. Teamwork

“Take three in particular… honesty, respect and teamwork,” Baynham noted.

“They make a difference when you join Data#3 – no person works as an individual, you work as part of a team. You do things in the most ethical way possible and from a long-term perspective of doing right by customers.”

When asked if culture is difficult to control, enforce and police, Baynham’s response was unequivocal… “it’s not even mine to own.”

Keeping the heart of the business beating is aligned to Baynham’s strongly held belief that everyone owns company culture. This isn’t allocated to some individual, nor is it the responsibility of the CEO or board.

“There seems to be a movement currently to have a Chief Culture Officer but I’d hesitate to use the word culture in a role,” he explained. “Everyone should have the responsibility of culture embedded into their role.”

On occasions however, culture can be negatively impacted by the CEO or the board – despite the best of intentions.

While companies desperately attempt to avoid making the same mistake twice, this scenario is all too common in the technology sector. An IT services provider on-boards a new technology and over invests, before realising that market demand isn’t as strong as first anticipated – usually due to macro events.

“Then we’ve had to let go of good people within our business, which was very tough,” Baynham recalled.

Leaving a legacy behind at Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth

While Data#3 hasn’t gone down such a path in recent years, in the past, market forces have conspired against the company which in turn, triggered staff lay-offs.

“We do everything with the best of intent,” Baynham added. “People make career and life-changing decisions to join our business and for whatever reason – usually market related – if we’re unable to keep that role open, I would take that personally.

“I know I shouldn’t but I do because it affects people’s lives. It’s always a low and you just need to ensure you don’t do that again.”

Prior to Data#3, Baynham worked for multinationals in the US and UK. His observation is that they also have their own cultures, hire great people and want to do the right things. But then a spreadsheet decision made in New York, Silicon Valley, London or Tokyo filters down to Australia…

“Then people leave the organisation,” he sighed. “It happens nearly every year and runs in a cycle in terms of multinationals suddenly ramping up hiring and then very quickly, ramping down as well.”

For Baynham, that’s where Data#3’s competitive advantage lies from a talent perspective.

“It’s not great for our industry and I don’t know what we should do or can do to stop that continuing,” he cautioned. “But agility is one of our core values which allows us to compete as a small and nimble business capable of making decisions quickly.”

Build on your successor, leave a great business behind

The official appointment of Colledge as new CEO and Managing Director followed a planned four-month transition period.

With the business for 28 years, Colledge is a company success story having joined as an Account Executive in 1995 before creating and leading the Licensing Solutions division two years later – a position he held for 17 years before widening his scope to take control of the broader Software Solutions business in 2013.

Expansion continued in 2014 to include the Infrastructure Solutions business and most recently Services. At the time of his appointment as new leader, Colledge held the position of Executive General Manager of Software Solutions, Infrastructure Solutions and Services.

“The level of certainty that we had as a business when I took over is exactly the same with Brad,” Baynham said. “Brad has been essentially running the vast majority of the business for a good deal of time and he has all the skills necessary to succeed.”

Learnings exist on a daily basis for CEOs, most of which are honing and doing small things a little differently to achieve a better outcome. Baynham has no regrets on the large decisions ultimately made under his stewardship and remained guided by his one over-arching ambition.

“There’s only been three CEOs / Managing Directors in the last 30 years,” Baynham reminded. “The three of us very much view it as a time when you have the privilege to lead the business for a certain period.

“Then you hand over something which is a lot better than when you found it. But the timing has to be good also. The last thing I would want to do is to hand over the reins if things were on the slide or a crisis was approaching. That is very important.”

Coming from a non-technical background, Baynham has always felt more comfortable focusing on the outcomes provided to customers. Technology changes but that core focus of Data#3 hasn’t changed in decades.

For example, every visit to Western Australia is filled with an injection of pride looking back on the work achieved at Fiona Stanley Hospital.

“It was a new build and the first digital hospital in Australia,” he recited. “It was built with technology in mind with the latest cloud, collaboration and networking solutions – from the ground up rather than retrofitted. That technology helped clinicians access the best clinical applications possible which hopefully saved a lot of lives.”

Baynham’s final comment is a confirmation that Data#3 exists to offer more than equipment installation or service delivery – a connection must exist all the way through.

“Whether it’s hospitals, campuses or stadiums, hopefully our work is actually improving people’s lives,” he added.

Perhaps Natasha Bradshaw summarises business sentiment best, “there will be nervous executives all over Australia this week.”

On 27 February, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) will publish the gender pay gaps for every Australian employer with 100 or more employees.

The government agency will be publishing employer gender pay gaps by median as well as the gender composition and average remuneration per pay quartile. While the process will happen in stages – due to the way the legislation was designed – this represents a seismic shift in approach to tackling gender pay disparity in the country.

“The public naming and shaming that will begin will push accountability onto employers, holding them responsible for the conditions in their workplaces,” noted Bradshaw, speaking as Senior Associate at Grattan Institute.

The change is the result of amendments to the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012 passed by Federal Parliament in March 2023, with publishing employer gender pay gaps viewed as a “critical part” of legislative action.

In 2023, the WGEA average total remuneration gender pay gap was 21.7%. This means that women in Australia are earning, on average, $26,393 less than men a year. In other words, for every $1 on average a man makes, women earn 78c.

In response, WGEA labelled the gender pay gap as a “persistent and pervasive issue” that undermines women’s earnings across the country.

“Employers who do more, achieve more,” said Mary Wooldridge, CEO of WGEA. “When employers pursue a deliberate strategy of long-term, meaningful change they are achieving progress to close their gender pay gaps.”

Mary Wooldridge (WGEA)

Wooldridge said that international experience indicates publishing the individual gender pay gap results of companies will be an “important step” capable of accelerating change. For example, the UK introduced similar reforms in 2018 with the gender pay gap narrowing by one-fifth as a result.

“Industry averages can mask the true picture of progress,” she added. “Publishing employer gender pay gaps offers a deeper insight into industry performance and business performance that may have been hidden by averages in the past.

“This new roadmap can help companies look at their policies and develop actions to better inform their own pathway for improvement.”

How the process works

On 27 February, WGEA will publish the first set of private sector employer gender pay gaps. This will cover 1 April 2022 – 31 March 2023 reporting.

In recognition that private and public sector organisations follow different reporting timelines, the first release of government gender pay gaps will be published in late 2024 or early 2025. This data will be based on 1 January 2023 – 31 December 2023 reporting.

Employer gender pay gaps will be available on individual employer pages on WGEA’s Data Explorer. This tool offers deeper insights into gender equality performance and outcomes, in addition to comparing results across employers and industries.

Calculations will cover base salary and total remuneration gender pay gaps for employers – to ensure comparability, part-time and casual salaries are converted to full-time equivalent earnings. The total remuneration pay gap calculations include superannuation, bonuses and other additional payments.

In an effort to provide balance, each employer will have the opportunity to provide an employer statement that provides context to their gender pay gap results.

“While naming and shaming will help make this policy effective, we should be careful about rushing to judgement,” Bradshaw cautioned. “It is possible for an employer to be making serious efforts to improve while its gap remains large.”

As noted by Bradshaw, actions to improve the situation – such as implementing a gender quota on entry-level positions – can actually worsen a company’s apparent gender pay gap in the short-term by temporarily increasing the number of lowly-paid women.

“Also, there will be firms that have a low gender pay gap because they pay both men and women poorly,” Bradshaw clarified.

“We should instead look closely at whether the organisation has outlined clear steps it will take to improve, and how it compares to its competitors. In future years, we will be able to see how things have changed.”

For businesses that operate ‘same pay for the same role’ policies, an important distinction should also be considered. According to WGEA, the gender pay gap is the difference in average or median earnings between women and men in the workforce.

“It is not to be confused with women and men being paid the same for the same, or comparable, job – this is equal pay,” a statement read.

Striving for best practice

A deep divide currently exists within industry sectors between the best performing businesses – those that are making progress to close their gender pay gaps – and the worst performers.

Mining, manufacturing and retail trade as well as the professional, scientific and technical services sector are among the industry sectors where this difference is most pronounced.

That’s according to a recent report – Gender Equity Insights – published by Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) and WGEA, which examined the gender equality strategies of nearly 4,800 Australian employers.

Findings indicate employers that have taken “deliberate, long-term action” in their workplaces get results, highlighting the best performing Australian companies recorded a 5.3pp drop in their gender pay gaps in three years.

Report author, Alan Duncan – Director of Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) and Distinguished Professor – said the analysis used a new “maturity framework” to help organisations identify, measure and implement practical policies and actions that can drive improved workplace gender equality outcomes.

“Focusing on industry-wide changes to gender pay equality and women’s workforce representation can hide some significant differences in progress between businesses,” Professor Duncan noted.

For example, Professor Duncan said the most advanced businesses in the mining sector are 7X more likely to set targets to reduce gender pay gaps and 4X more likely to report pay equity metrics to senior executives compared to businesses that are early on in their journey towards workplace gender equity.

“While progress is being made, the reality is that closing the gender pay gap is still many years off for a large share of Australian businesses,” he acknowledged.

The report benchmarks the performance of organisations based on their approach to pay equity strategies, recruitment and retention and other policies and actions aimed at driving progress – this includes parental leave, family and caregiving and sex-based harassment.

“We found businesses that reach higher maturity levels in their approach to gender equality achieve far stronger results than organisations at lower levels of maturity,” Professor Duncan said.

“When organisations implement pay equity audits and report gender pay metrics to their senior leadership and governing boards, we see a greater pace of change.”

In addition, the best performing businesses have enhanced parental leave provision for secondary as well as primary carers, as well as reporting, training and accountability for flexible work.

Meanwhile, report co-author, Astghik Mavisakalyan – Associate Professor at BCEC – said consultation through employee surveys, advisory bodies and boards was also an “important enabler of progress” for businesses aspiring to reach higher levels of gender equity maturity.

“Businesses should plan for continual improvements, enhanced actions and higher standards of practice in gender equality policies as internal and external expectations develop,” Mavisakalyan advised.

“Business leaders need to be careful not to focus attention on one employee group at the expense of others.”

For example, Mavisakalyan said a commitment to progress gender equality for managers and executives should not diminish the attention given to improving gender equality outcomes among non-managerial occupations.

“Gender diversity in decision-making and on boards is a key driver of organisational change,” Mavisakalyan added. “While there’s been progress in the past three years, employers must keep up the pace to avoid leaving women under-represented in the boardroom for decades to come.”

It’s not always easy to understand the true intentions of reinvention – an action that is often articulated but seldom executed.

For some, it’s simply a line – dropped into media conversations, analyst presentations and shareholder briefings to demonstrate momentum. Just keep on moving.

But in the quiet corridors of power – away from market judgement – reinvention can be viewed as rather paradoxical. The concept of changing a winning formula that has delivered several years of success can be argued as senseless, not strategic.

Eventually however, even the most successful of organisations run out of room to grow. The key is to understand when to jump from the comfort of high maturity to the necessity of high growth – a defining skill of top-performing executives.

“CEOs in Australia generally have high expectations of revenue growth in the next three years, mostly from existing products and services,” observed Kevin Burrowes, CEO of PwC Australia. “In other words, most don’t think they have a burning platform for reinvention – yet.”

Kevin Burrowes (PwC Australia)

In 2024, Burrowes acknowledged that inflation and uncertainty about the Australian economy will continue to put pressure on CEOs to make “tough decisions” balancing their short and long-term priorities.

“There could also be another inhibitor to reinvention: thinking they have more time,” he added.

Citing Australian findings from PwC’s Global CEO Survey in 2024, Burrowes said executive leaders across the country are pursuing business model reinvention at a slower pace – and with less urgency – than their overseas counterparts.

Notably, 85% of Australian CEOs believe their business would exist “as is” in more than 10 years time, significantly at odds with the global trend of 53%.

“Innovation is essential for companies to keep a competitive advantage and remain viable,” Burrowes noted. “Businesses in Australia need to move at pace when it comes to reinvention and new value creation.”

According to PwC, local companies are still mainly relying on existing products and services for most of their revenue (74%) with a failure to embrace new sources of value at the same speed as companies globally.

Just over a quarter (26%) of organisations can attribute more than 20% of total sales from the past 12 months to new products or services introduced within the past three years.

During the past five years, the most common form of reinvention action in Australia has been the adoption of new technologies, followed by the formation of new strategic partnerships. This trend is expected to continue with technology viewed as the leading factor (48%) in how a company will “create, deliver or capture value” in the market.

“CEOs in Australia recognise the need for transformation and most are implementing new technologies to support that,” stated Ro Antao, Transformation Lead Partner at PwC Australia. “However they generally think they still have time to make changes before their revenue growth and viability would be seriously impacted.

“Is this thinking misguided? Is it also a result of having a smaller local market in Australia? The data indicates that CEOs in Australia are not moving fast enough to adjust their business models – and the operational resources that support them – to adapt to the reinvention imperative.”

When pressed, CEOs cited regulation and competing operational priorities as major barriers to business model change despite enjoying greater board buy-in and support from internal stakeholders compared to global counterparts.

PwC’s 27th Annual Global CEO Survey (Australian Insights)

Within this context, regulation is equally challenging from both internal and external business perspectives as organisations attempt to overcome ongoing hurdles related to compliance with current requirements (70%) and pending changes in regulation (59%).

Following that, the top internal barriers to reinvention are:

  • Workforce management: 59%
  • Technology implementation: 56%
  • Managing cyber security risks: 56%
  • Cost-reduction programs: 41%

“It is not surprising that CEOs perceive regulatory complexity as the biggest challenge to reinvention, given that the consequences of non-compliance have increased dramatically over past years,” acknowledged Corinne Best, Risk and Regulation Lead Partner at PwC Australia.

This is in addition to governments and regulatory bodies trying to keep pace with the global mega trends by implementing new rules and standards for businesses.

“Often, we observe that a change in regulatory requirements leads to a flurry of technology investment or activity to reinvent risk and compliance functions,” Best said.

“To reduce the delivered risk in change projects, companies should have clear transparency on their current compliance requirements and end-to-end risk and controls that can be readily leveraged or overlayed against new regulatory requirements.”

Difficult decisions will continue to be made against the backdrop of an underperforming local economy, with CEOs still considering inflation as a key threat to growth.

PwC’s 27th Annual Global CEO Survey (Australian Insights)

While official forecasts show declining gross domestic product (GDP) growth, local CEOs are more optimistic than 12 months earlier.

“This likely reflects a pull-back in the inflation rate and the view that the interest rate cycle is at or near the peak, with consequent hopes that interest rates will fall and consumer sentiment will pick up,” assessed Jeremy Thorpe, Insights and Economics Lead Partner at PwC Australia.

“The expectation of a net decrease in headcount is consistent with official forecasts of higher unemployment. This reflects continuing wages growth and low and patchy economic growth, coming off a historically low unemployment rate.”

Globally, CEOs are more optimistic about growth prospects, with concerns about inflation and macroeconomic volatility falling.

Around the world, the proportion of CEOs who believe economic growth will improve over the next 12-months has more than doubled year-on-year.

According to PwC – which interviewed 4,702 CEOs across 105 countries and territories – 38% of CEOs are optimistic about global economic growth prospects over the next 12-months, up from 18% in 2023. Despite ongoing conflicts, the proportion of CEOs who felt their company is “highly or extremely exposed” to geopolitical conflict risk fell seven percentage points (to 18%).

“There are actionable steps CEOs can take today to accelerate reinvention,” Burrowes shared.

“This includes business model transformation, managing the risks and opportunities presented by climate change, investing in people, and embedding technology such as generative AI [GenAI]. Now is the time for companies in Australia to speed up their business model reinvention.”

Examining the AI opportunity

From a solutions standpoint, Australian CEOs overwhelmingly view GenAI as a “catalyst for reinvention” capable of powering “efficiency, innovation and transformational change”.

Specifically, 60% of local leaders accept that this technology will “significantly change” the way their company “creates, delivers and captures value” during the next three years.

PwC’s 27th Annual Global CEO Survey (Australian Insights)

Enthusiasm for AI isn’t blind however. Australian CEOs remain wary of the associated cyber security risks (78%) and the spread of misinformation (63%), as well as the legal and reputational considerations (44%) and customer or employee bias (19%).

“GenAI has the potential to unlock a new wave of value from automation, however it is still early in its business adoption cycle,” noted Tom Pagram, AI Leader at PwC Australia. “Most are yet to move beyond experimentation and small-scale pilots.”

In the current economic environment, Pagram said organisations are primarily focused on using GenAI to drive efficiency and cost-savings but “significant opportunities” also remain for companies to leverage this technology for top-line growth.

“This can transform business models, differentiate products and services, improve customer and employee experience and drive an uplift in quality, safety and risk management,” Pagram added.

Under the banner of ‘Building Our Shared Future Together’, Budget 2024 was delivered amid heightened market interest by Lawrence Wong, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance.

This address on 16 February kicked off the first instalment of the ‘Forward Singapore’ program which was first introduced to the public in October 2023. The aim is to emphasise opportunities, provide assurances and outline collective responsibilities to keep the nation “united” in times of change and uncertainty.

In that context, Budget 2024 was designed to serve as a comprehensive roadmap capable of guiding the city-state through the complexities of a challenging global landscape while promoting inclusive growth and resilience across all sectors of society.

With a wide range of initiatives covering economic resilience, social support and environmental sustainability, one notable inclusion stood out from a technology standpoint.

At least $1 billion in SGD will be invested over the next five years to develop artificial intelligence (AI) compute infrastructure, talent and industry development under the National AI Strategy 2.0, which launched last year.

This investment aims to attract AI talent and develop capabilities within the community, strengthening the country’s competitive advantage to be a global AI hub by raising the quality of AI creators and practitioners.

“Budget 2024 transcends investments in growth areas such as AI, productivity, and energy transition, to address social needs like healthcare, education, and build a vibrant arts and sports scene,” said Lim Kexin, a PwC Partner specialising in Entrepreneurial and Private Business Tax in Singapore.

“Bringing vision to action, these measures reflect the Government’s commitment to Forward Singapore’s collective hope for a shared future, while energising Singapore Inc 2.0.”

L-R CW: Lim Kexin, Ching Ne Tan, Greg Unsworth and Charles Loh (PwC Singapore)

According to Kexin, while the world is still deliberating how to best navigate the opportunities and risks of AI, the government has made a “decisive move”.

A commitment to increase investment for critical advanced AI chips amid plans to quickly anchor a community of AI centres of excellence is “especially laudable”. This is in addition to the government’s previously announced ambition of tripling Singapore-based AI practitioners to 15,000.

“It is bold and holistic moves like these, which will put Singapore ahead in the new economy and provide a further boost for our next phase of economic growth,” Kexin added.

For Greg Unsworth – Digital Business and Risk Services Leader at PwC Singapore – the investment further reflects the potential that AI holds in transforming the nation’s economy in the near future.

“This investment will help to realise the National AI Strategy 2.0’s outcomes of developing AI talent, industry and infrastructure,” Unsworth noted.

“All of which need to be underpinned by a trusted environment for AI, where businesses, the government and the broader Singaporean society can continue to experiment with AI, scale it and eventually realise its promise.”

Additional spending on AI came within the context of a further $3 billion investment under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 Plan that was launched in 2020. The Plan invests in areas of national priority such as advanced manufacturing, sustainability, healthcare and the digital economy.

“Innovation sandboxes were established in 2023 to enable businesses to build production-ready generative AI solutions and develop evaluation benchmarks for trusted generative AI (GenAI),” stated Ching Ne Tan, Partner and Corporate Tax Leader at PwC Singapore.

Announced in early February, Ching Ne SMEs are able to receive a grant from IMDA to trial one of the GenAI solutions curated with industry and technical experts from Institutes of Higher Learning in use cases involving customer engagement, marketing and sales.

“The winning formula for this year’s budget is to act now,” Ching Ne added.

According to PwC, such investments “exemplify” Singapore’s proactive approach towards embracing emerging technologies to achieve sustainable progress and build up the competitiveness of local enterprises and people.

“This will certainly propel AI-enabled digital transformation efforts for businesses and allow them to realise their fullest potential,” outlined Charles Loh, Consulting Leader at PwC Singapore.

“In addition, the partnerships with leading organisations to establish their AI ecosystems in Singapore will be a key thrust in building a deeper pipeline of AI talent, spurring innovation and ultimately building stronger and sustainable businesses across every sector.”

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