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Leadership & Culture

5 leadership and business lessons from Australia’s biggest tech firm

Atlassian’s success on the global stage is no accident.


Through a combination of perseverance and people, its founders and teams have been able to scale what was a bootstrapped Aussie local tech start-up in 2002 into a global NASDAQ-listed success story through a range of innovative approaches to leadership, business, technology and work.


What can we learn from that journey?


Our CEO Marc Washbourne recently sat down with Atlassian’s Global Director of Public Policy, David Masters. Here’s a few things education and training providers can take from that conversation, that could lead them to break boundaries, grow into new markets, and make a difference in community.


Going remote means going bigger


Atlassian has been moving towards remote work for some time - a move accelerated by Covid-19. Now employees will only go into the office four days a year. Atlassian has clearly reached the conclusion going remote has more positives than negatives for a tech player in a global world.


But why? Going remote gave (and could give other businesses) access to a larger talent pool than might exist in their local area. For Atlassian, that means flying in global tech talent from markets like the US. For educators, it could mean hiring online teaching talent in other areas of Australia.


Great talent breeds great work


Atlassian’s teams have learned how to operate a tech company at scale by recruiting the best talent from global markets and forming teams around them in Australia. Through allowing them to teach best practice, it has fostered great work onshore, including Atlassian alumni starting new companies.


This is worth thinking about in education and training. If you want to create a great teaching culture, should you be looking to hire some of the best, most passionate practitioners, even at a slightly higher price tag? Could their love of teaching best practice inspire your staff to greater things?


Success at scale = grit + culture


Atlassian’s trajectory was partially a result of perseverance. Through what Masters describes as the indomitable will of founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, the tech start-up was able to remain focused on its ultimate vision despite the many challenges they encountered along the way.


The other key player was culture. With the realisation they needed a culture that could be replicated even when they were not the ones hiring new recruits, Atlassian has been able to coalesce its team around a series of no-nonsense values to keep employees purposeful, fulfilled and committed.


True virtue comes with action


Atlassian is known for taking a public stand on social issues like climate change. With a survey showing 69% of employees expect companies to be engaged on social issues, Atlassian is shaking up what is usually expected of business leadership in Australia by fronting up and speaking out.


But it’s also backing words with action, rather than ‘virtue signalling’. For example, Atlassian has committed to net zero emissions across its operations by 2050, and reached its goal of reaching 100 per cent renewable power in the fiscal year 2020, five years ahead of its original 2025 goal.


Don’t forget to remember your legacy


Legacy is not something a lot of businesses think about – at least in their earlier years. With ambition and growth goals dominating the horizon, the impact they will have on the community and society at large, while a consideration, is rarely front-and-centre, especially in larger organisations.


Atlassian has turned that assumption on its head. With the goal of ensuring it will be overtaken as Australia’s leading tech company in the future, the company is a strong advocate of creating a local tech and innovation ecosystem and is working with governments to influence that outcome.