iTWire – Xero Chair calls on Aussie leaders to rethink approach to innovation

iTWire - Xero Chair calls on Aussie leaders to rethink approach to innovation

Australia’s digital readiness slipped last year (to 16th globally), presenting a major opportunity to strengthen capabilities, particularly among businesses, and prepare for change.  Ahead of the event, The Tax Summit 2023, hosted by The Tax Institute, David Thodey AO calls on budding innovators and changemakers to prepare for the evolving digital world.

One of Australia’s best-known business leaders, Thodey is currently Chair of cloud-based accounting software Xero and has previously led Telstra and IBM in the region, along with sitting on the boards of CSIRO and Ramsay Health Care. He is a passionate technologist and is well-regarded for his insights and global expertise in innovation, digital transformation and telecommunications.

As the world grapples with the hastening pace of change, Thodey reveals the following key insights for leaders to unlock a fresh approach to innovation:

1. Turn ideas into reality. Often, innovators and entrepreneurs have great ideas, however don’t give themselves enough time to explore them – so they never translate into reality. Australia scores in the world’s top 10% for our science and research but only rank #35 in our commercialisation. Simply give it a go to bring these ideas to fruition. It’s hard and risky, but the rewards are enormous.

2. Invest in your leadership journey. In corporate Australia, the traditional models of hierarchical leadership no longer work in a digital age where information flows quickly. To make decisions fast and create value for clients, people need to invest in their leadership journey. The first step is knowing what type of person you are and then embracing self-learning and vulnerability to continue to grow.

3. Embrace learning. Technology will only keep rapidly changing – lean in and embrace this opportunity.  Keep learning, keep driving forward and keep putting yourself in situations where you can be exposed to new ideas to progress yourself, such as conferences.

Thodey said, “Technology-enabled innovation will continue to radically change our society and economy. Realistically, we’re at best 35% through an enormous global transformation. Ultimately, it’s about the enablement of doing things differently, whether using technology to deliver a better product, service or something at a lower cost. Many accountants and tax professionals are at the leading digital edge for the industry, but we must ensure everyone comes along for the journey.

Speaking at The Tax Summit is an opportunity to connect with the industry on topics that are important for all Australians. Taxation is essential to support our quality of life and contributes to a great society. I want to see Australia grow and prosper to realise this potential.”

The Tax Institute’s President, and Chair of The Tax Summit Organising Committee, Marg Marshall, said, “We are thrilled to have one of Australia’s most respected business voices join us at this year’s event. Not only is David an experienced leader and technologist, he deeply understands the world of tax and accounting to help attendees navigate the digital frontier and beyond.

“At the event, attendees will hear expert insights on technology, leadership and the issues affecting the industry, as well as connect with peers in person to share their learnings. We’re coming together to ‘Spark Change’ as a whole.”

Thodey joins a compelling speaker lineup of the nation’s most forward-thinking minds, including Karen Payne, CTA, Inspector-General of Taxation and Taxation Ombudsman; Victoria Lanyon, Senior Associate at King & Wood Mallesons; Australian Sporting Legend Kevin Sheedy; and many more. Held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (MCEC), The Tax Summit 2023 brings together taxation specialists, lawyers, accountants, newcomer tax professionals and business leaders as well as anyone with an interest in the latest issues impacting businesses on a local and global scale.

The Tax Institute is the leading forum for the tax community in Australia. It is committed to furthering tax education, representing its members and continuously improving the tax system for the benefit of all.

Register now to hear more insights from Thodey at The Tax Summit. For more information on The Tax Summit and its line-up of more than 70 expert speakers, covering topics including economics, property, business, global tax developments and technology, please see the full program or get in touch.

About David Thodey AO

David Thodey is a compelling and content-rich speaker with a wealth of business wisdom.

David Thodey is Chair of Xero and a Director of Ramsay Health Care. Until recently, he was also Chair of the Commonwealth Science, Industry & Research Organisation (the national research organisation for Australia) and Tyro. In 2020 Mr Thodey was appointed Deputy Chair of the National COVID-19 Coordination Commission by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The commission is designed to better coordinate the efforts within and between the public and private sectors.

Mr Thodey was appointed to lead the Independent Review of the Australian Public Service in 2019 and also conducted a review of the Federal Financial Relationship between the Commonwealth and the State of NSW. David is also Chair of the Climate Leaders Coalition and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

About The Tax Institute

The Tax Institute is the leading forum for the tax community in Australia. Our reach includes membership of 10,000 tax professionals from commerce and industry, academia, government and public practice and 40,000 Australian business leaders, government employees and students. We are committed to representing our members, shaping the future of the tax profession and continuous improvement of the tax system for the benefit of all, through the advancement of knowledge, member support and advocacy. Read more at