From high school economics to expert
Cassandra Winzenried, Chief Economist – Export Finance Australia
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke to Cassandra Winzenried, Export Finance Australia’s Chief Economist.
Cassandra has risen through the ranks, starting her career as an economic analyst. She is now responsible for providing country risk assessments to support transactions and undertaking broader analysis on global political, economic and regulatory developments affecting Australian exporters.
Tell us about yourself and how you’ve come to your current role.
I am Export Finance Australia’s Chief Economist, primarily responsible for providing economic and political insights for Australian businesses transacting overseas. I’ve wanted to become an economist ever since Mr Freeman’s Year 10 Economics class. I was sold on the use of mathematical tools and analytical frameworks which, when effectively implemented, can dramatically boost people’s wellbeing. I came to Export Finance Australia via Commonwealth Treasury and private sector consulting. But as a travel bug (I’ve clocked around 90 countries so far) I particularly love the international aspect of Export Finance Australia.
What is the greatest challenge you have faced in your career and how have you overcome this?
As an inherently analytical and shy personality, the transition to Chief Economist has been a challenge. I am happiest crunching data and interpreting macroeconomic trends, less so engaging with media and presenting a public face. But through practice my comfort zone is slowly expanding. While I study and emulate the oratory skills of economists I admire, I’m also learning to own my own style. And I thoroughly appreciate the opportunity to personally engage with some incredible Australian businesses that are achieving mega success on the international stage.
What is the greatest opportunity for Australian businesses looking to expand overseas?
The long forecast economic upswing has finally come to fruition. This reflects stronger industrial activity and global trade, coupled with better business and consumer confidence, which is driving a recovery in global investment. While China’s slowing economy bucks the global trend, the country’s 6.9% expansion in 2017 was still about the size of the entire Canadian economy in PPP (purchasing power parity) terms. Between 2015 and 2030, China’s middle-class consumption is expected to more than triple to US$14.3 trillion. All of which bodes well for Australia’s exports to emerging Asia, in particular, those involved in offshore supply chains. Further, free trade agreements and an upsurge in online purchases will see offshore consumers increasingly accessible.
What advice do you have for other women about how to succeed in business?
Utilise the plethora of government agencies designed to help Australian exports. For instance, Australia’s International Business Survey 2017 found that 40% of companies, which sought additional finance for international business, were unsuccessful. Overwhelmingly, the findings indicated this owed to inadequate cash flow and high security requirements—that is, the limited risk tolerance of lenders. However, Export Finance Australia’s six decades of experience in evaluating country risk allows us to profitably facilitate Australian export opportunities that commercial banks pass up.