Afterpay CEO believes Australia has an opportunity to be a tech talent exporter

The head honcho of Afterpay has described Australia's tech talent pool as "very strong".

Anthony Eisen, co-founder and CEO of Australia's buy now, pay later platform Afterpay, has told the audience of Macquarie Technology Summit that Australia has an opportunity to be an exporter of top tech talent.

"Australia is an incredibly attractive place where you can base global talent that doesn't have limitations anymore in terms of being able to do business globally, particularly if it's tech-based," he said on Thursday.

"I think there's a real opportunity to make this more of an export-style industry for our country. I think the government recognises that, and they're doing more and more to facilitate it."

He described Australia's tech talent pool as being "very strong" and something Afterpay has reaped the benefit of first-hand.

"We've seen Australian talent, when they have the opportunity to build globally scalable platforms, just shine very strongly, particularly as Australians in our company have moved internationally with our business," he said.

Recent statistics by Hays, however, indicate that Australia and New Zealand's tech sector has continued to suffer from a severe skills shortage, particularly as international borders remain shut.

For Eisen though, he believes distance should no longer be an excuse for why talent cannot be easily sourced.

"The tyranny of distance is lost with technology-based businesses. The most fabulous thing about the opportunity to build a platform that's scalable is that it does transcend borders, especially when you look at what we've been through with COVID," he said.  

He pointed out how Afterpay has continued to run its head office out of Australia, despite operating in countries including the United States, United Kingdom, and Asia.

"We haven't regionalised our business, we've globalised our business, and while we have global functions now, it's not about concentration in a geography ... and that's why I also say Australia can be a global head office in a lot of ways," he said. 

"The global leadership team is spread out ... [and] is split between Sydney, Melbourne, San Francisco, London, and we have a core group in Asia as well, so just approaching it that way I think is quite important and something we're trying to get better at as we grow." 

Besides exporting tech talent, being able to attract talent to Australia and see them establish companies locally is equally important, Eisen said. 

"I think as Australia gets more and more on the map, being able just to attract that experience onto our shores is really important to mix with the talent that we have here," he said.

"Australia has now produced a whole lot of pretty fantastic global startups that have become scale-ups, terrific companies … but the more and more companies from Australia that can grow in that fashion, I think it's really leading the light."

During his virtual Q&A, Eisen also took the opportunity to highlight that Afterpay would soon be launching Money By Afterpay, which Eisen described as where "customers will actually be able to deposit money and they'll have savings goals, and budgeting goals, and different services that go around our platform."

In March, Afterpay, together with Zip Co, agreed to a buy now, pay later code of practice that was developed by the Australian Finance Industry Association as a vow to be transparent and focus on the needs of the customer.

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