Supporting SME growth and resilience: lessons from Israel

19 July 2019

The Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce in partnership with NAB was delighted to host over 100 business executives at last week’s AICC Business Briefing on Innovation as a driver for Australian business growth and resilience.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are central to the health of Australia’s economy and community. In a period of weakening business confidence and conditions, and widespread disruption by technology and globalisation, it is timely to examine what further can be done to promote resilience and growth opportunities for Australian SMEs.

Israel consistently ranks as one of the top destinations for innovation and entrepreneurship in the world. Having recently returned from a trade mission, our panel will discuss how a culture and ecosystem of innovation can be used to drive growth and resilience in challenging circumstances. They will explore what lessons can be learnt from Israel across government, academia and the private sector to develop this ecosystem in Australia, and the action required to support business.

NAB has launched a white paper, Backing Business – Australia’s Growth Engine, at the event.


Simon Corah, CEO, Growth Mantra

Following the sale of M&C Saatchi to AIM on the UK stock exchange, Simon left in 2007, to start Growth Mantra. Growth Mantra is a boutique strategy consultancy focussed on growth. The agency forecasts markets to spot opportunities for growth, then develops and brings strategies to life. As an example of its work, Growth Mantra won an international pitch to re-invigorate McDonald’s and as a consequence, developed and implemented the ‘Create Your Taste’ campaign. Growth Mantra is also the brains behind the Woolworths Metro concept. The organisation has worked on other blue chip companies including: AGL, Bupa, Coca-Cola, Diageo, NAB, Optus, and Tabcorp.

Gina Cass-Gottlieb, Senior Partner, Gilbert+Tobin

Gina is consistently ranked as one of Australia’s leading competition and regulatory lawyers by Chambers Asia Pacific, Legal 500 Asia Pacific, International Who’s Who of Competition Lawyers and Best Lawyers. Since 2010 Gina has been ranked as a ‘Star Individual’ for Competition and Antitrust by Chambers Asia Pacific. Gina leads Gilbert + Tobin’s work in obtaining or opposing competition clearances for mergers and joint ventures in Australia and New Zealand. In addition to her expertise in all areas of competition law advice for major corporations, Gina specialises in economic regulatory advice and representing clients before the ACCC, NZCC, ASIC, ACMA and other regulators.

Paul Thompson, Managing Director, Select Harvests Limited

Paul was appointed the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Select Harvests Limited in July 2012. Paul has over 30 years of management experience. He was formerly President of SCA Australasia, part of the SCA Group, one of the world’s largest personal care and tissue products manufacturers. He is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and has formerly held positions as a Director of the Food and Grocery Council and councilor in the Australian Industry Group.

Dr Marcus Zipper, Director, CSIRO Challenges and Digital Transformation

For the past 20+ years, Dr Zipper has held senior leadership, commercial, business development and marketing roles primarily in scientific research organisations, including over 15 years in CSIRO. This includes previous roles in three CSIRO divisions, two Cooperative Research Centres, the polymer industry and a professional services firm. Currently Dr Zipper leads the recently formed CSIRO Challenges and Digital Transformation Office. Prior to that he was the Director for the CSIRO Services business unit which comprises CSIRO Education & Outreach, CSIRO Publishing, Infrastructure Technologies, SME Connect and CSIRO Futures. He has experience in business management, research management, science leadership, research portfolio management, strategic capability planning, business development and commercialisation experience in research organisations. Dr Zipper is also experienced in a range of research areas and sectors including chemicals, materials, mining and minerals processing, polymers/composites, metal production, manufacturing, service industries, packaging, aerospace and automotive. He has an academic background in materials science and engineering, with an emphasis on engineering materials, materials characterisation and materials processing. Dr Zipper has over 30 publications including national and international journal papers, conference papers, conference abstracts and chapters for books on materials science and engineering.

Rachel Slade, Chief Customer Experience Officer, NAB

Rachel was appointed to the role of Chief Customer Experience Officer in October 2018. Previously, Rachel was Executive General Manager Deposits and Transaction Services, leading the development of products and payments solutions for retail, business and corporate and institutional customers. Rachel joined NAB from Westpac at the start of 2017, where for more than 10 years she held a number of senior executive roles including leading the global transactional services business and the customer-led transformation in the retail and business bank. Prior to joining Westpac, Rachel worked as a financial services strategy consultant with Andersen Consulting. Throughout her career in both consulting and banking Rachel has focused on creating and executing successful strategies to drive business transformation. In addition to her role at NAB, Rachel serves as a director on the Board of Flourish Australia and the New Payments Platform.