Pip Marlow

CEO Customer Marketplace,
Suncorp Group Ltd

"Small businesses are the engine room of the Australian economy and the more they thrive, the more the country thrives."

Pip Marlow


(Gentle piano music)

DESCRIPTION:  Text - Australian Government Small Business Digital Taskforce. Pip Marlow. A woman with blonde hair, wearing a business jacket, seated in front of a bright office window with a view of other glass buildings.

PIP MARLOW: Hi, I'm Pip Marlow. I'm the CEO of the Customer Marketplace at Suncorp, one of Australia's largest financial services institution. Although I'm pretty new into financial services, just a year. The last 21 years, I have been at Microsoft. I grew up in the tech industry, including being at a start-up, which is one of the most exciting small businesses that you can be in, I think. I'm also really passionate about giving back to the community. I've spent time in not-for-profit, I'm a member of Chief Executive Women and also sit proudly on the Board of the Australian Rugby Union.

I remember the day Mark Bouris called me to ask me to be on the Small Business Taskforce and I said to him, "Mark, are you serious about this? Is it going to be a token report? Are we really gonna put some energy into this to say, 'How do we help small and medium businesses,' who are the engine room of this economy, you know, 'get digital, grow their businesses, do the things they care about?'" And he was like, "Yes, we are doing this." I said, "OK, I want to be part of that".

And I wanted to be a part of that because I grew up in a very working-class family and my mum was a small business owner. I saw how hard she worked to do what she did in order to help take care of us and our family, and I knew there were some really unique challenges that existed for her. And I thought, wouldn't it be great to help other mums, other dads, other families, really make a difference in their lives? Because as I said, small and medium businesses, they're the engine room of the Australian economy. And the more they thrive, the more this country thrives.

I have an interesting perspective of thinking about digitisation and small businesses. I spent my life in technology, in the last 21 years at Microsoft. So I've seen how technology has evolved and the difference it can make. Most people don't get up and get excited about a copy of Office, but what people get up and get excited about is, how can technology help a business grow their business? How can it help them connect with their customers better? How can it help them get more time back? And we all know time is just priceless.

But it's not always easy. It can seem scary. It can seem distant. People don't know who to talk to. So really finding ways to help make it more normal, make it more accessible, taking away the fear so that you can actually use it to make a real difference. That is changing. And the more it can change, I think the more it helps our small businesses and big businesses.

It's really great to see the rise of women in small businesses. They are becoming entrepreneurs and inventors, and their use of digital is just outstanding. It's also really allowing us to remove the bias in small business, creating websites, ways to connect with customers. It's really saying it doesn't matter who's behind the business, man or woman, your products, your services stand on their own in a digital footprint.

Got to be honest, technology has made such a big difference in my life. I am a mother of two, two teenage girls, both in high school, and very different to my dad. I remember my dad leaving every morning and coming home every day, and it was like clockwork. And the lines between work and home were really strong at that point.

Now those lines are blurred. And there's good things about that, and also there's challenges that come with that. Technology has helped me manage those challenges. So often I need to be on a conference call and I want to be there for my team and for my customers, but also I might have parent-teacher or something at school.

It's not a surprise to find me in the car park at my kids' school, having a conference call on Skype before I rock into a classroom to talk about how my children are doing. But using technology has allowed me to navigate those lines better, and it allows me to still be a mum, which I'm really proud to be, but also still be a contributor here at the office. I don't think I could manage them both as well if technology wasn't involved.

(Piano and orchestral music ends with a flourish)

DESCRIPTION:  Text - Small Business Digital Taskforce. Join the conversation, #smalldigbiz.