The Aspire Advantage
Aspire Advantage is a global management consultancy firm, specializing in Human Resource Development. The company’s portfolio includes the construction, manufacturing, maritime, energy, oil, telecommunications, airline, engineering, retail, insurance and banking industries as well as the government sector.
The expanding practice in Australia includes clients such as ANZ Bank, Caltex, Energy Australia Roads and Traffic Authority of New South Wales, Commonwealth Bank, National Bank, Alcan Australia, AMP, Woodside Offshore Petroleum and many public sector organizations.
Exporting crept up on Aspire Advantage, Managing Director, Valentina Stolar said, when an Australian client referred her to an overseas counterpart who was actually a competitor. “I spent a few years dabbling in the export market before taking it more seriously. We then started looking at it as a deliberate strategy and targeted industries similar to those working well for us in Australia,” she said. She said that visiting target markets was integral to her research. “You cannot beat face-to-face contact with people.”
Ms Stolar said that one of the biggest challenge or obstacle she faced was that extensive overseas work creates family challenges. “From a woman’s perspective it certainly disrupts your family life – it can be very difficult sometimes,” she said.
When asked what advice she had for new exporters, Ms Stolar said: “Build relationships with your clients, as they’re always a good referral base. If you’re going to export, make sure you’re in the niche market, and make sure you’re the best at what you do.”
Ms Stolar says that there are other issues that need to be considered when exporting, for example women face different issues when travelling overseas, particularly areas like the Middle East. “Always be diplomatic,” Ms Stolar said. “For any Australian wanting to export, success or otherwise depends on the quality of the product, tenacity, the ability to deal with uncertainty and the wherewithal to establish excellent working relationships across all cultures. In the export market you must be a business person of the world, not simply an Australian wanting to sell products or services.”
Ms Stolar didn’t know about Austrade when she first started exporting, so she did everything on her own. Since she discovered Austrade, she has used their services and found them invaluable, especially in keeping her up to date with trade shows and potential new markets. “When you’re travelling and things go wrong it’s reassuring to have Austrade there,” she said. “But Austrade aren’t there to develop your business – they’re there to provide assistance in any way they can.”
Today Aspire Advantage is regarded as one of the leaders in its field globally. As professional service providers, working overseas gives Aspire Advantage exposure to opportunities across a much broader market. “Not only does it increase our client base, it also brings different operating perspectives to clients at home and overseas,” Ms Stolar said. “This adds significant value to one’s professional expertise.”
“Exporting was a deliberate strategy, not only does it increase our client base, it also brings different operating perspectives to clients at home and overseas,” she explained. Today Aspire Advantage regularly conducts workshops in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, England, the Middle East as well as Australia.