It's time we reimagined what Australian made could look like because Australia's future success will not come from the same industries that made us successful in the past, Microsoft Australia, Managing Director, Pip Marlow told a CEDA audience in Adelaide.
"The marketplace has changed. What got us there 50 years ago wouldn't have got us where we are today and I predict it will not get us where we need to be in 50 years' time," she said.
"Things aren't in dire straits here, things are quite good, very liveable but that might not be the case in 50 years' time.
"I think we've got to have a plan because sometimes, just like at Microsoft, what got us here, won't get us there and sometimes we've got to walk away from the things that we've created, to create the next generation of what we might look like in our own company. And I think that applies definitely as a country as well.
"We live in an economy actually where 85 per cent of our GDP comes from services, it's not from manufacturing and mining yet so much of our conversation is around the other 15 per cent.
"We don't have a shortage of people, I think we have a shortage of people doing the things that can really differentiate the future for Australia."
Ms Marlow said the education sector is Australia's fourth largest export, with $14.9 billion worth of education exported each year.
"Education exports in this country are worth almost as much as all the gold we mine every year," she said.
"If you're already equal to the gold industry in this country, you've got to be doing something right.
"That's not to say that there won't be any manufacturing… I think there are areas of manufacturing and production that are going to be really important to us. But I think there's some rules we need to challenge ourselves on."
Ms Marlow spoke of Israel and Singapore which have placed people and innovation at the centre of their economy with great success.
"That's really what I think has made a huge difference for those economies, and I think it can certainly make a difference for our economy," she said.
Australia has the opportunity to think about how we embrace innovation, she said.
"The more we see Australia thinking about how we can embrace both a culture of innovation and the adoption of innovation, I think will poise us to be more competitive than ever. Not just now, but in 50 years' time," she said.
Ms Marlow said Australia is at a point of transformation and we need to be thinking and dialoguing in order to create a vision for Australia's future.
"It's not just up to the politicians and the business people of Australia to have a say in what Australia does and its future, I think it's all of our responsibility," she said.