Posted: 18 Nov. 2021 5 min. read

Celebrating the bold ambitions of the best

Andrew Culley was recently featured in The Australian where he discussed the characteristics of this year's Best Managed Companies winners. Read his thoughts below. 


What does it take to be the best? Tenacity, determination, passion, a focus on the long term, and perhaps even a little luck, all come to mind.

It’s no different for Australia’s private business sector. The heartbeat of our economy, private companies are often disrupters, bold in their ideas and strategy.

In 2019, Deloitte launched its Best Managed Companies program in Australia, and recognised the efforts and success of eight businesses towards the end of that inaugural year. And then came Covid.

Perhaps no other crisis in modern history has had as great an impact on daily human existence. No part of the world – and certainly no business – has been untouched.

Australia’s private businesses have been challenged like never before, and particularly with so many operating in hardest hit sectors. But we’ve found that many also used the crisis as a catalyst, accelerating change across strategy and operations.

Many stepped up their digital transformation through greater technology investment and deployment.

In-progress initiatives were pushed towards completion, while those that were on the drawing board came to life. They sought out new partnerships and alliances. They pursued new opportunities to strengthen their supply networks and grow markets. They increased efforts to understand their purpose beyond profits, seeking new ways to grow sustainably and strengthen trust with their employees, customers, and other key stakeholders. They also embraced new possibilities in how and where work gets done.

It’s very clear that they aren’t resting on any laurels – instead they are looking for the next opportunity, and growth via the likes of acquisitions, expansion into new markets or diversifying into new business ventures.

Their success is defined across four key pillars – strategy, culture and commitment, capabilities and innovation, and governance and financials. Our best managed companies apply a formal methodology for strategy development, they have the right capabilities and metrics in place, and they clearly and consistently communicate the strategy to all levels. They build a strong, inclusive and consistent corporate culture and legacy, actively develop their people and leadership team, and provide a holistic compensation system. They develop valuable capabilities and resources, are highly execution oriented, are focused on productivity and innovation, and are thoughtful about hiring the right people to execute their business model and strategy.

And they install strong governance structures, maintain a strong balance sheet, and apply the financial discipline required to drive revenue growth, improve operating margins, and increase asset efficiency.

Their leaders balance deliberate decisions with a long-term lens about what the future may hold and make multi-year investments in preparation for it while also consciously being agile in the short term. They have the resources and culture to pivot during volatile times.

They understand the importance of staying relevant and unique in their value proposition, while also staying true to their purpose. 

They are increasingly embracing ESG principles as key to their brand and value overall, ensuring elements around sustainability and their carbon footprint are key considerations in their investment decisions.

They have pursued an incremental shift in their focus on their people and their wellbeing. During Covid, they have done everything possible to protect their workforces. And while this came at a financial cost, benefit has been realised in terms of culture and engagement, and a retention of skills that are important to their recovery.

And with their innovative mindset and investment in digital capability, they have been able to both swiftly adapt to hybrid ways of working and enhance the use of data.

Our best managed companies have demonstrated the importance of resilience and agility. They have responded to Covid, they are recovering, and they have positioned themselves to thrive.

They’ve not just handled this crisis, they are ready to face all the other competitive threats and disruptions that are inseparable from doing business.

Our future prosperity depends, in part, on them, and Deloitte is proud to support their bold ambitions and celebrate their success.

Learn more about our winners on the Best Managed Companies page.

More on Best Managed Companies from The Australian:

More about the author

Andrew Culley

Andrew Culley

Global Family Enterprise Leader

Andrew is the Global Family Enterprise leader. He also serves as the Australia Deloitte Private leader. He has led Deloitte Private in Australia for four years and has overseen the growth in services across all Business Units, reflecting the diverse and emerging demand from all aspects of the Private market. Andrew has served on the Australian National Executive and Board of Partners as well as leading Technology Strategy teams in both Adelaide and Sydney. He specialises in the alignment of Business and IT Strategy, understanding the impact of Technology Disruption on organisations and how to maintain trust through good conduct. His career spans across the manufacturing and industrial sectors and his portfolio of clients has included private and family owned businesses through to large corporations and government entities.   Andrew specialises in reviewing businesses from both a commercial and operational perspective, and has a proven track record in developing and implementing information solutions that help businesses to compete in demanding and changing marketplaces. Over the last 3 years, he has focused on assisting B2C organisations understand the impact of Customer empowerment on technology strategy and the challenge of responding to the often-competing priorities of disruption and regulation. He also leads teams to work with clients on defining and embedding good conduct, as well as restoring and galvanising trust through remediation and has managed large scale, complex remediation projects. He was the co-author of Deloitte’s influential reports on SA “Make it Adelaide” and is a passionate advocate for advancement of the South Australian Economy.   Andrew has also previously held management responsibilities for supply chain management, sales and marketing, customer service, information technology and financial performance.