While panellist David Merson, the Bali-based founder of Australian software company Mincom, views Australia's geographic and cultural positioning as a trading advantage, the tyranny of distance has also been charged with producing a penchant for travel among Australians.
Noble is one example of an Australian-born engineer who took his entrepreneurial activity to the U.S. for about 14 years, before recently returning to Australia to work at Google. A graduate of the University of Adelaide, Noble recalls how initial feelings of homesickness faded away with time. For Australian businesses, he said this meant that opportunities had to be created to draw expatriate talent back home.
"At some point, you stop thinking about Australia," he said. "By and large, we in the industry have to create opportunities for people to come back."
Merson agreed: "I think it is fantastic that there are expatriates overseas, in terms of the knowledge they gain. I think if we build the jobs and the opportunities then they will come [home], because it's [Australia] a great place to live and bring up kids."
Noble and Merson said that it is predominantly the industry's responsibility to create opportunities for returning expatriates. Auran's Edelson highlighted training initiatives put in place by the Singapore and Chinese governments that involved sending students overseas for fixed-term work placements to ensure their return with the advantages of an expatriate experience.
Edelson described a proposal from the Singapore Government, which he said has offered to partly fund Auran's hiring of Singaporean entry-level staff on two-year contracts. The deal is expected to provide Auran with a low-cost staffing option, while assisting the Singapore Government with up-skilling its workforce.
"I wish our government would do things like that, because we are desperate for knowledge," Edelson said.