In the northern hemisphere, Australia is often a dreamy bucket list destination full of beaches, koalas and kangaroos. But for me and my colleagues around the world, the connection is more personal. Many of us make frequent visits or have taken long-term assignments there. For us, Australia is a favorite place and a home away from home.
Aussie accents are often heard in our offices, be they in the United States, Germany or Japan. TimTams regularly show up in the office kitchen – a gift from a visiting Australian coworker or a souvenir from someone’s trip to CSL’s head office in Melbourne, manufacturing sites in Parkville and Broadmeadows, or its research hub at the University of Melbourne’s BIO21 Institute.
In 1916, CSL was founded in Australia to protect human health. Today, as the world’s fifth largest biotech, we’re still delivering on that promise. CSL Behring, a global developer of treatments for rare and serious diseases, and Seqirus, a global leader in the prevention of influenza, are both businesses of CSL, which in 2019 celebrated 25 years on the Australian Securities Exchange.
The devastation of the ongoing bush fires has prompted all of us to reflect on the magnificent continent and send our hope for its swift recovery. Henry Trinh, Senior Business Associate in Strategic Sourcing at CSL Behring, recently spent four months on assignment in Australia and said he immediately understood why Melbourne ranks among the most livable cities in the world.
“Infrastructure is very good with free inner-city transportation, low road traffic at all times compared to the U.S., great food - world famous coffee and steaks, kind and relaxed people, hip art culture, beaches and amazing wildlife,” he said.
Trinh, who serves on CSL Behring’s sustainability committee in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, said he was shocked by the tragic fires and their impact on the natural world.
“Prior to going to Broadmeadows, I never really thought about going to Australia as I figured that it’s quite similar to the U.S.,” Trinh said. “Having gone, I understand how amazing the country is and recommend it to everyone.”
Micaela Costello, a New Zealander, lived in Australia for 12 years before coming to the United States on an international assignment. She is struck by the massive scale of the fires.
“It is a long road ahead and we cannot just forget Australia once the fires are put out. People’s lives are impacted for much more time to come. The full extent of the impact on wildlife and the environment is still an unknown,” said Costello, Head of Executive Compensation, Performance Management and Equity.
More than 2,500 miles (4,000+ kilometers) away, her home country is seeing the effects, too.
“We call New Zealand the land of the long white cloud. Currently, we are the land of the long pink cloud. Even our glaciers in the South Island have changed color – now covered in ash,” Costello said. But what is awesome is the support Kiwis are giving the Aussies – whether it is firefighters and military heading over or the sending of funds.”
In that spirit, CSL announced a $500,000 contribution to support the Australian Red Cross, state-based fire authorities and wildlife agencies. The company also plans to match employee donations. If you’re looking for other ways to assist, The New York Times recently published a guide.
As a frequent business visitor to Oz, which is literally on the other side of the world 17,000 kilometers from my home, my admiration near and afar of this beautiful country and its engaging people strengthen after each trip. Pride and resiliency seem to be inherently woven into every mate that you meet – whether it's business colleagues at Australia’s second largest company or the boisterous vendors at the world’s largest outside market, the “Queen Vic.”
Much of that stems from the country’s origins. In their heart of hearts, they deeply love their country and everything about it. Their strong will and beaming pride of being an Aussie – and unmatched witty humor – are genuinely second to none. Strong and vibrant they are. That’s why I know Australians will prevail. And that’s why Australia is on our minds.